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2016: a year in photographs

It’s been emotional

“May you live in interesting times” is a famous curse. We may disagree on whether 2016 was a good year or if it deserves to be cast into the garbage fires of history, but at the very least we can’t deny that it was interesting. The photos that we took over this last year only prove that point. We photographed an incredible array of subjects: from Michelle Obama to the director of Warcraft; from the best live music performances of Panorama to the classic performance cars of the Goodwood Festival of Speed; from tiny lizards to small dogs to Hollywood legends, we shot them all. And of course, we captured umpteen pictures of every conceivable gadget under the sun. We also got really good at arranging things neatly.

The following collection of photographs have not been selected because they’re necessarily the best of the year, but because they’re our favorites. We have edited out a number of great pictures — including many taken by some of the talented freelance photographers who have worked for us this year. Instead, we chose to focus on those pictures that mean the most to us, for whatever reason. We’d love to hear from you about those pictures you think we should have included. Trust me, we’re still arguing about that ourselves. —James Bareham

The photographs below are arranged chronologically by the date they were first published.


JANUARY

Neon Boneyard

The Verge team spends much of CES trapped inside the Las Vegas Convention Center. But to test out Polaroids Snap camera, I sought out relics of old Las Vegas. The entrance to the Neon Museum's Boneyard is a 1960’s sign from Jerry’s Nugget casino, which looked amazing against a post-sunset sky. —Amelia Holowaty Krales


FEBRUARY

Laura Poitras

Laura Poitras is best known for her documentary, Citizenfour about the classified documents she received from Edward Snowden. Visitors to her show Astro Noise at the Whitney Museum were able to view those documents; interact with surveillance technology; and watch interrogation and drone video feeds in the most intimate ways, like these wall cut-outs in a pitch black room. —Amelia Holowaty Krales

Manus X Machina at the Met

Manus X Machina, held at the Fashion Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, was a huge exhibition showcasing the intersection of fashion and technology. Everything from incredibly intricate embroidery to 3D-printed dresses were on display. It was an amazing collection of wearable art. —Amelia Holowaty Krales

Nextbit Robin

The Nextbit Robin wasn’t only the first review I shot after joining The Verge. It was also the first time I combined my passions for Knolling — arranging things really neatly — and sketching into one single photograph. —James Bareham

Samsung MWC

I knew from the beginning of Samsung’s Mobile World Congress press event that they were going to want everyone in the audience to wear the VR headsets that had been placed under their seats. So when the time came, I stood up and shot as much and as fast as I could. It’s not often you get a chance to shoot a room full of a few thousand people all wearing VR headsets — though I was so focused on getting my shot that I totally missed Zuck coming down the aisle across the room. I don’t think I could have gotten in position quickly enough to have captured this dystopian photo of the Facebook CEO we all now know and love, but it would’ve been close. —Sean O’Kane

Sick Lambo

One of more than 400 photos I shot of an ultra exclusive Lamborghini Centenario. The irony of it was that each of the 40 examples of this car that were produced had already been sold by the time of the Geneva Motor Show 2016. So, all we could really do was soak in the sights, emotionally and digitally. —Vlad Savov


MARCH

FLOTUS

Photographing Michelle Obama at the White House is not only a highlight of this year, it is one of the highlights of my entire career. The first lady was gracious, charming, patient, trusting, and, most importantly, completely at ease with my direction. And she never once seem annoyed by me constantly shouting “Fantastic!” This is my favorite photo from the entire session because it shows that we did actually take our own Verge orange seamless backdrop to the White House. —James Bareham

Avegant Glyph

The Avegant Glyph was a fairly nondescript piece of technology that seemed to pose more questions than it answered. But what it did do very well was shine bright light into Dieter’s pale blue eyes and make him look like a White Walker from Game of Thrones. —James Bareham

SXSW On the Street

On the last night of SXSW, Jamieson Cox and I decided we wanted to make a portrait of the event. So we set up a mini studio on 6th Street — one of the main arteries of Austin — that had been closed off for the event. It was packed with people, and music poured out of bars and venues that lined the street. As soon as we saw Billboard Goldie’s mohawk we just had to stop her and take her picture. —Amelia Holowaty Krales

iPad Pro 9.7

One of the key features of the iPad Pro 9.7 is the “True Tone” screen. It automatically adjusts the tone of the screen (making it either warmer or cooler) to compensate for the color temperature of the surrounding ambient light. This feature also proved to be an ideal visual theme for the product shoot, as well as a cool (pun intended) way of differentiating this model of iPad from the many that have gone before. —James Bareham


APRIL

Ford CEO

When Ford CEO Mark Fields was in the city to attend the New York Motor Show, he told us he would be more than happy to drop by for a chat and photo shoot. After wracking my brain to think of a suitable backdrop for the portraits, it suddenly dawned upon me that as Mark Fields was making the effort to come by The Verge office, I should photograph him in The Verge office. —James Bareham

LG-G5

The defining design element of the LG G5 is its modular parts. After some brainstorming with the editorial and video teams, we decided the best way to illustrate the idea was the most modular toy in the world: Lego! I spent more time arranging the Lego around the phone and its various attachments than I care to remember; even “scattering” the Lego to the edge of the frame took ages. Taking the shot itself took a fraction of the time! —Amelia Holowaty Krales

HTC 10

The most striking feature of the HTC 10 is the beautifully designed aluminum body. So I decided to use the removable side from an old Mac Pro as the background and decorated it with various memory modules from the Mac arranged very neatly. Amelia used the same electronic elements in her detail shots. We both wondered how long it would take someone to identify the parts once the HTC 10 review went live. The answer was about six minutes. —James Bareham

Prosthetic Limbs

One of the first features I shot after joining The Verge was about the technological advances in medicine, specifically adjustable and modular prosthetic sockets. We met Robert Spotswood, a car accident survivor who lost his right leg in the crash. With this new adjustable socket, he can play sports for an extended period of time. We spent a few days with him as he went rock climbing and golfing in San Francisco’s Presidio. I was hoping to get an outdoors portrait of Robert that day, but the sun was just way too bright, so I had to look for the next best thing. —Vjeran Pavic

Launch of Circuit Breaker

The launch of Circuit Breaker, “The World's Greatest Gadget Blog,” was an important milestone for The Verge in 2016. As Circuit Breaker is all about gadgets, the only logical creative direction for the lead image was to take a shot of as many gadgets as we could possibly find. I think that we emptied our entire reviews closet in the making of this photograph. —James Bareham


MAY

IMAX Spin Class

Though Dami Lee reported this IMAX spin class was less than exciting, I left the shoot with this picture, which made the day a huge success in my book. And as James commented, “There is literally no caption that can do this photo justice. Just know that this man is out there being awesome.” —Amelia Holowaty Krales

Dodge Viper

We spent a sunny day at the Monticello Motor Club in New York filming Jason Harper driving a violently yellow Dodge Viper at great speed. I had two principle roles that day: to drive the minivan video chase car as smoothly as possible without crashing, and secondly, to take a turn in the back of the van to shoot some stills. Shooting out of moving vehicle wearing a harness is always fun. I leaned out as far and as low as I could to shoot the Viper on a wide angle lens (which meant it had to get close) and used the slowest shutter speed possible to blur the track but keep the car sharp. — James Bareham

Meal Delivery

Kaitlyn Tiffany had decided to review a number of different “ready-to-make” meals that were shipped directly to her. For about a month, I photographed her making (and eating) those meals. But we needed a single image that could sum up the whole experience, and the suggestion was to create a scene of “kitchen chaos.” So I dragged almost the entire contents of my kitchen into the studio — there was literally not a single frying pan or spatula left behind. Even my pot rack was rigged up to the ceiling. All that was missing were a few colleagues to throw flour and peas in the air on cue.—Amelia Holowaty Krales


JUNE

GoPro

For Sean O’Kane’s in-depth feature on GoPro, I wanted to deconstruct their iconic camera and shoot the different stages of disassembly all the way down to the bare chassis. As we were preparing the shoot, features editor Michael Zelenko posed the question: “Can we also cut it half?” The answer was of course yes. All we needed was a water-jet saw. —James Bareham

GoPro CEO

GoPro CEO Nick Woodman is a charmer. But he’s also the head of a big company that just went through its most troubling year. GoPro’s success is all about Woodman going forward. Its future depends on his ability to sooth the worries of investors, and the success (or failure) of his biggest bets, like the Karma drone. It’s hard to capture a portrait that reflects all that in the waning minutes of an hour-long interview, so I just went straightforward with it, snapping a few photos of the man in his office — the place where he calls those shots. —Sean O’Kane

Duncan Jones and Warcraft

The interior design of Bowery Hotel in New York’s Lower East Side can best be described as a fusion of Harry Potter and Game of Thrones, which basically meant it was the perfect location to shoot the very charming, surprisingly relaxed Duncan Jones, director of the film Warcraft. James Bareham

Acura NSX

I have plenty of shots from our Acura NSX shoot of the car in motion, but my favorite part about that day was dropping the $160,000 supercar in the middle of a tiny town along the Connecticut / New York border. We parked it in front of a diner for some beauty shots and watched patrons ogle it mid-bite, food practically falling from their mouths. The thing was, between shots, we were drooling, too. —Sean O’Kane

E-Waste

The lead image for our e-waste feature turned into one of the most unexpected creative highlights of 2016. The idea was fairly simple: make a real model of the New York subway map out of some of the actual e-waste this city recycles by the ton on a daily basis. All we needed was a water-jet saw we’d used to slice the GoPro, some wood, and a lot of patience. After weeks of work researching and building the model, taking the pictures took about 10 minutes. You can read more about the making of this photo here. —James Bareham

Aquaponics

When I heard about an indoor aquaponic farm that grows basil in water and is fertilized with the poop of Tilapia fish, I had to check it out. Alessandra Potenza and I visited Verticulture Farms at the top floor of the former Pfizer building in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn. It was fascinating to see how the system works. Verticulture and other outfits like it are hoping to redefine the concept of “local” produce. —Amelia Holowaty Krales

The Goodwood Hill in a Ferrari

This summer I returned to the Goodwood Festival of Speed for the first time in over 15 years. I interviewed the founder of the event, Lord Charles March, and I strolled through the paddocks marveling at eclectic collection of cars dating from the earliest years of the 20th century to the present day. But the highlight by far was a riding up the famous hill in a Ferrari 488 GTB driven by one of Ferrari’s chief instructors. The hill was treacherous, wet from days of rain, muddy in places. As we approached the start line — passing by a long line of some of the most exotic cars in the world, including the new Bugatti Chiron, a very rare Ferrari FXX-K, and an even rarer Aston Martin Vulcan — the sun briefly peered through the clouds. It glinted off the soaking road as we approached the start line.

With the unmistakable howl of the 660 hp V8, we launched toward the first corner. The deft confidence of the driver was extraordinary. The Ferrari twitched in that first slippery, tight turn but he compensated instantly, adjusting the suspension settings as we went. His light, gentle touch on the steering wheel starkly contrasted the violence of acceleration, late breaking and staggering amounts of grip. At one stage, we passed so close to some of the treacherous flint walls on the hill that I thought we’d lose the wing mirror. My driver drove so fast we caught the car that had started ahead of us, forcing us to slow down and practically coast across the finish line. The drive was over in just a few minutes. —James Bareham

The Classic Cars of Goodwood

Being a Serious Journalist, I had an early morning meeting on my first day at Goodwood. But my route there delayed me greatly, as it was through a paddock of utterly gorgeous retro and modern racing cars, all in operational condition. Smartphone photos snatched en route turned into a vast gallery with my pro camera. Practically impossible to pick a favorite from the bunch, and the experience of walking through the exhibition area was a visual feast worthy of attending the Goodwood Festival of Speed just on its lonesome. —Vlad Savov

Visceral Recess by Future Wife

Summer of 2016 marked the first ever Panorama Music Festival co-presented by The Verge. The three-day event on Randall’s Island also hosted The Lab, a tech / art exhibit located on the festival grounds. In the months leading up to the event we visited each of the selected artists in their studios to see their works in progress. Beau Burroughs is the creative mind behind Future Wife and interactive work Visceral Recess, a sort of adult bouncy castle with a modern design sensibility. The structure was outfitted with sensors that, when triggered by movement, changed the colored lights that were strung inside it. I was at least eight months pregnant at the time and can vouch for how comfortable it was. —Amelia Holowaty Krales

Gabriel Pulecio

Brooklyn-based artist Gabriel Pulecio was the first of the Panorama artists we visited to check out his work, Infinite Wall — a piece you have to experience to feel its full effect. We documented the space and the prototype; the full-size piece was about to be fabricated. The combination of responsive LED lights and mirror panels were exciting to see and provided a taste of what he would present at The Lab at Panorama. —Amelia Holowaty Krales


JULY

Ghostbusters VR

I photographed senior reporter Adi Robertson and business editor Ben Popper decked-out with headsets, backpacks, and “blasters” moments before they entered The Void’s Ghostbusters experience at Madame Tussaud’s in Times Square. The ghosts were successfully vanquished. —James Bareham

Iris Scans

To illustrate a story about the FBI collecting iris scans, I wrangled a bunch of co-workers to sit for a brief, though slightly painful portraits of their eyes. Using a ring light strobe (you can see the lights reflection) and a macro lens I got as close as possible. The individual photos were then composited together into this single image. —Amelia Holowaty Krales

Manhattanhenge

The thing about getting a photo of “Manhattanhenge” is positioning: you need a good spot. Alessandra Potenza and I left the office to watch the sunset line up perfectly between the buildings along a street that runs east to west of Manhattan. We chose 42nd street because of a raised roadway by Grand Central station where we could get a full view of the sunset and be safely above the congestion of cars and people below. Even though the road is strictly for vehicles, we were not the first ones there on foot. Even at 5PM we struggled to find a spot for the sunset happening about two hours later. To make matters worse, a police officer soon dispersed the group. Undeterred, we walked further east and joined a crowd that had taken over the street, stopping at each red light to capture the scene, phones in the air. —Amelia Holowaty Krales

Moto Z

I was having trouble shooting a keeper main image for the Moto Z review, and late into the night at The Verge’s NYC office, this is what I settled on: putting the phone and MotoMods on a green couch and snapping a shot from above. The green fabric worked well for Android. Sometimes simplicity wins. —Chris Welch

Panorama: Kendrick Lamar

Kendrick Lamar was one of the headline acts at this year’s Panorama festival. When it became clear that it was going to be impossible to get near the stage to photograph his set, I decided to go into the crowd to shoot their view of his show instead. At one point Kendrick asked the crowd to turn on the flashes and hold their phones aloft. They instantly obeyed. This photo summed up the entire festival for me. —James Bareham

Panorama: Grace Potter

I could (and have) spent hours combing through the photos I took at Panorama, but this was one of my favorite moments of one of my favorite sets. This is Grace Potter putting everything she had into a mid-day set like it was a headlining slot at Reading and Leads. We’ve reached a total saturation point when it comes to music festivals, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find wonderful moments from killer artists like Potter. —Sean O’Kane

Werner Herzog

This wonderful portrait of Werner Herzog was shot for The Verge by Mike Piscitelli — the only freelance photographer whose work we have included in this review. Mike’s photograph beautifully captures this famous and enigmatic director, whose question about Pokémon Go became one of the best quotes of the year: “When two persons in search of a pokémon clash at the corner of Sunset and San Vicente is there violence? Is there murder?” —James Bareham


AUGUST

Scott Kelly

This is a portrait of the astronaut Scott Kelly on the deck of the USS Intrepid, standing in front of a WWII fighter. There’s literally nothing more to add. —James Bareham

Galaxy Note 7

Taking photos for The Verge’s review of the Galaxy Note 7 was in itself uneventful. But looking back, this shot of the Samsung’s infamous premier phablet lying upside down in a pool of water like a drowned corpse became vaguely prophetic. —James Bareham

Hero Headphones

This was my first attempt at creating a conceptual image for a review — something more than just a neatly arranged photograph. The original shot didn’t have a perfect circle, the white paper surrounding the red was distinctly gray and crinkled, and the desired effect was not evident. But then Photoshop came to the rescue, salvaging reality with a pleasing dose of fabricated clarity and precision. —Vlad Savov

Nerf Gun

For some reason, I just really like this shot of a nerf gun taken for our “Back to School” gift guide. It’s just so bold, bright, colorful and well... Nerf-y. —James Bareham


SEPTEMBER

iPhone 7

The review of the iPhone 7 was, without a doubt, the hardest shoot of the year. First of all, it’s the new iPhone, so it had to be really good. Second, the turn-around time between getting our hands on the new phone and the embargoed publish date was just four days during which Nilay had to review the phone and we had to shoot both stills and video — then edit, retouch, and publish. To top it all I decided, for some inexplicable reason, to surround the iPhone with 25 lenses, each of which had to have all the dust and awkward reflections cleaned up in Photoshop. I spent over seven hours retouching the final set of images. But I like to think that it was worth it. —James Bareham

Facebook Data Center

One of my favorite trips this year was to Prineville, Oregon. Home to about 9,000 people it’s also where you can find many tech giants’ data centers — including Facebook. Getting this shot was a bit more challenging than it might seem. There were a lot of people on the tour, so getting a photo without anyone else in it was tricky. Added to that, the room was very dark and I really wanted to keep everything in focus, so a tripod was a must. We also had three more buildings to go see, so I had to move fast. —Vjeran Pavic

Robot Wars

I consider myself a piss-poor photographer, and can’t for the life of me keep straight the difference between aperture, ISO, and f-stop. But I knew that The Verge’s first trip to China would provide some amazing opportunities to capture things we had never seen before. So I brought along a camera. This shot was taken the morning before the launch of DJI’s Robomasters competition. The stadium was empty and the battlefield wasn’t cluttered with dueling robots yet. The production team was testing out lighting effects and graphics packages for the big screen. It was a still moment just before the action commenced, and somehow it captured the epic nature of the tournament that would ensue. —Ben Popper


OCTOBER

Year of VR: Sony PlayStation

2016 has been the year of virtual reality. Few reporters know more about VR than The Verge’s Adi Robertson, and so over the course of this past year, I photographed her wearing a variety of VR headsets: the Oculus Rift; the HTC Vive; Playstation VR; and the Google Daydream. Playstation VR was unique amongst the four as it was the only headset that provided its own lighting. Very Stranger Things. —James Bareham

BMW Art Cars

I’m not much of a car person, I have never cared too much about driving or even shooting them. There are only a few cars I find truly beautiful on today’s market. But once you stand in front of BMW’s Art Cars, you just can’t help but feel inspired. Pictured above is the 1975 BMW CSL, designed by Alexander Calder. —Vjeran Pavic

Google Pixel

I don’t shoot too many produced lead images — that’s why we hired James, after all, and his work speaks for itself in this piece. But I knew right away that I wanted to create something familiar when I got the call to shoot the Pixel review. We planned to set it in a diner, but had to fake our way with a bar instead. I think it was important that the lead (and the rest of the shoot) help echo that familiar tone, because Google’s “first” phone feels like it’s been around for years. —Sean O’Kane


NOVEMBER

DeRay McKesson

It took almost a month and over 20,000 air miles flying between the East and West Coasts of the US to photograph the nine portraits for Verge 2021. So it’s somewhat ironic that one of my favorites from the entire series was shot in our own Verge studio. DeRay McKesson’s genuine optimism was nothing short of inspiring. —James Bareham

DJI Mavic

There was lots of drone news this year, and I am not a drone expert, but there’s something about the design of this little device that I love. Mostly because when you fold up it’s arms it looks like a dead bug. —Amelia Holowaty Krales

MacBook Pro Touch Bar

For our initial review of the new 13-inch MacBook Pro, Vjeran Pavic photographed a top-down shot of Vlad Savov using the laptop to edit a photograph in Photoshop. When it came to shooting the 13-inch Macbook Pro with the added Touch Bar, I attempted to shoot the most meta photograph possible by featuring both laptops in one single image. —James Bareham

Snapchat Spectacles

Everyone in the office was very excited about the Snapchat Spectacles so it was fun when I finally got to see them up close when I photographed Sean O’Kane for his review. The theme was spending a day out and about snapping videos in different situations. This whimsical image was my favorite from the shoot: we were up on the High Line (a raised former railway turned park on the west side of Manhattan), the leaves were in full of fall color and I noticed how the yellow details on the glasses matched the broad leaves of the trees lining the walkway. —Amelia Holowaty Krales


DECEMBER

Cracking the Elaborate Code

This machine isn’t some kind of zened-out space station, nor is it some kind of Seven Days-inspired time machine. It is, however, the first step into a new future for both robotics and virtual reality. In this photograph, projectors lining the top of a geodesic dome are firing out a mapping pattern. This allows the researchers at Carnegie Mellon University to pinpoint the exact location of 500 cameras surrounding The Verge’s business editor Ben Popper. Their goal is to capture 3D models of our body language so that one day they can help endow machines with the capacity to understand the elaborate code of nonverbal communication. —Tom Connors

HP Spectre

I ended 2016 as I began, combining my love of Knolling and sketching to shoot the most impressive Windows laptop of the year: the HP Spectre x360. Having drawn a detail of the beautifully designed hinge, I arranged the sketchbook, aluminum propelling pencils (one of which I bought years ago from Tokyu Hands in Japan), note pads (with obligatory Verge sticker) and marker pens as neatly as humanly possible. —James Bareham

Beats Solo 3

It was a cold day, but I was determined to get out of the office and photograph these Beats headphones in the world where they would mostly be used. I am lucky enough to have co-workers who don’t mind doubling as models so I begged for an hour of Mariya’s time. There is an interesting wall of ivy not far from the office that I had kept in mind for a shoot and I think the texture worked nicely against the fur lining of Mariya’s coat. —Amelia Holowaty Krales


Photography by James Bareham, Tom Connors, Amelia Holowaty Krales, Sean O’Kane, Vjeran Pavic, Mike Piscitelli, Ben Popper, Vlad Savov, and Chris Welch.

Retouching (from September onwards) by Rosy Warren.

Edited by Megan Farokhmanesh, Kaitlyn Tiffany.

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