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2019: A year in photographs on The Verge

Storm chasers, a rocket launch, and a melting ice cream cake

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The Verge photo team took thousands of photographs in 2019 — from a rocket launch in Florida and cloud chasing in Córdoba, Argentina, to the Pixel 4 and science stop-motion videos. We talked with content moderators, climate activists, authors, presidential candidates, and influencers, and got them all on camera.

We aimed to keep the selection small this year, since there’s so much else on Instagram and the site itself. For this piece, we only picked images that meant something to us, whether because the photo captured a moment in a powerful story, showcased the skill and creativeness of our team, or it was just a great photograph.

To take a look at more work from The Verge, follow us on Instagram @verge and @thevergeart. Also head over to 2019: A year in illustrations on The Verge to see the best of our non-photographic art from this year.


Microsoft HoloLens 2
Photos by Vjeran Pavic / The Verge

When Microsoft’s HoloLens was initially released in 2016, it held enormous promise. Three years later, the mixed reality headset got a significant upgrade which makes me trust in this technology just a little bit more.


What’s in your bag, Marlon James?
Stop Motion by Michele Doying / The Verge

When Marlon James stopped by the studio to shoot his portrait and stop-motion for What’s in your Bag, I bet he didn’t think we’d be throwing around his pens. We didn’t either — until we found out how important these pens are for his work.


Fearing for his life 
Photos by Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge

Ramsey Orta has been in prison since October 2016, after filming the killing of his friend Eric Garner by NYPD officers. Here, Orta poses for a portrait at the Groveland Correctional Facility visitation room in Sonyea, New York.

Who’s to blame for the neurotoxin that’s poisoning the Pacific?
Photo by Vjeran Pavic / The Verge

Getting this shot meant waking up at 4AM and spending about 12 hours on a fishing boat fighting motion sickness. Easily one of my favorite shoots at The Verge.


Art Club logo
Stop Motion by Michele Doying / The Verge

Can you believe Art Club isn’t even a year old yet? It seems like it’s been here forever! We tossed out the idea of using cut-up magazine letters as a half-joke, half-serious idea — but it ended up capturing the spirit of the series perfectly. After spending hours flipping through magazines and cutting out various fonts, each member of Art Club was invited to put together their own arrangement.

During the photography, I discovered that I really liked the juxtaposition of a complete letter on one side and cut-up imagery on the back. And being a stop-motion lover, I went ahead and created a few arrangements. We ended up choosing this one, and I replaced the original magazine images with our own original Verge photography and artwork.

In the Making: How one product can spawn hundreds of knockoffs
Photo by Vjeran Pavic / The Verge

Max Gunawan created Lumio, a decorative lamp in the shape of a book that’s struggling with copycats. It made perfect sense to use his product as a main source of light for this portrait.

Sarah Sitkin’s Bodysuits presents the human form as it really is
Photo by Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge

This close-up captures both the strangeness and the familiarity of Sitkin’s project, which lends itself unusually well to photography.

Andrew Yang is the candidate for the end of the world
Photo by Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge

Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang sits for a portrait at his campaign office in New York City. The campaign was building out a new office when we visited, so we ended up shooting Yang in the unused space.

Game Boy

The Game Boy’s 30th anniversary: a celebration in photos
Photo Illustration by Vjeran Pavic / The Verge

Usually the photo team doesn’t venture out into creating a lot of photo composites, but for Game Boy’s 25th anniversary, I wanted to do something more playful.

Instagram needs stars, and it’s built a team to find them
Photo by Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge

Dancer Susie Meoww uses one of Instagram’s in-house studios at the Los Angeles headquarters. Shooting the equipment in use this way, you get a sense of how much work goes into maintaining a star’s image.


Where The Bodies Are Buried
Photo by Ximena Natera for The Verge

Mexico’s drug war has left tens of thousands of casualties in secret graves. Now, the mothers of the missing are digging them up, armed with iron rods and quadcopter drones. We took portraits of three of those mothers, who are facing down real danger to find out the truth.


The technology, sweat, and anxiety that goes into shooting a Falcon Heavy rocket launch
Photo by Loren Grush / The Verge

There’s nothing quite like standing next to a launching rocket. We tried to capture that physical feeling with this long exposure, which shows the exact moment the Falcon Heavy’s main engines shut off and the parabolic arc that follows.

One year after Trump’s Foxconn groundbreaking, there is almost nothing to show for it
Time-lapse by Amelia Holowaty Krales and Michele Doying / The Verge

We decided to throw a party for Foxconn’s first birthday, but since it wasn’t much of a celebration, we let the cake melt. Having the photo split up in strips and dissipate was just the icing on the cake.

Bodies in seats
Photo by Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge

This year, The Verge visited Facebook’s worst-performing content moderation site in North America — located in Tampa, Florida — and spoke to former employees about their experiences and the effects the job has had on their mental health. This portrait shows Shawn Speagle in his home; Speagle worked at Cognizant for about six months, where he mostly dealt with graphic violence and hate speech.


Road-tripping with the Amazon nomads
Photo by Ross Mantle for The Verge

Chris Anderson moves through a Target’s clearance racks in search of items that would be profitable to sell on Amazon. That search is the essence of the story we were trying to tell about merchants traveling the backroads of America in search of rare soap and coveted toys, so we wanted a photo that did it justice.


Back to school guide 2019
Stop Motion by Michele Doying / The Verge

Every time we do a gift guide, we try to fit in as many of the items in the lede image as we can — and then we convert that lede image into a GIF. And it’s a fun balance trying to keep the gift guides recognizable while also making sure they are each unique and can hold their own.

Back to school guide Top 8
Stop Motion by Michele Doying / The Verge

If I had to choose a favorite stop-motion from this year’s back to school guide, it would be this one. I loved the integration of the objects, the title of the breakout (Top 8), and the magic of it all working together. I think I could easily watch this for hours, especially the kettle pouring out the 8!

This Tesla-powered Porsche 912 is the new face of vintage restorations
Photo by Vjeran Pavic / The Verge

We spent a whole day with a 1960s Porsche that had been retrofitted with a Tesla electric motor, but my favorite photo came at the very end of the night.


Photos by Amelia Holowaty Krales

Clouds hold the key to forecasting climate change, but they’re extremely difficult to understand, let alone measure. These photos captured a sensor site, various radar gear, and one of the storm chasers themselves. Put together, you feel both the scrappiness and the possibilities of the project.

Monsta X and Steve Aoki: How K-pop took over Youtube
Photos by Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge

We caught up with Steve Aoki during a show at Summerfest in Milwaukee, Wisconsin — and got a surprise photo of a fan who’d just been “caked.”

Apple Watch Series 5 review: the best smartwatch
Photo by Vjeran Pavic / The Verge

I’ll be honest: getting this set of photos to look the way I wanted took longer than expected. But closing yourself in a studio for a few hours to play with mirrors and LED strips usually yields success.


Maangchi, the internet’s Korean mom
Photo by Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge

Where do you shoot the internet’s most famous Korean home chef? A supermarket, of course!

Protestors douse Wall Street bull with fake blood
Photos by Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge

There was so much happening during this Extinction Rebellion protest that it was hard to get a clear shot — but the crowded composition drives home the energy we felt at the event.

The Google Pixel 4 leaning against a small structure outdoors

Google Pixel 4 and 4 XL review: more than the sum of its sensors
Photo by Vjeran Pavic / The Verge

For a lot of people, this smartphone was a big disappointment, but the orange design makes it a perfect gadget to photograph (and also take photos with, but read our review for more on that).


The Last Stand
Photo by Greta Rybus for The Verge

Gabriel Frey harvests ash trees from the Maine forest as part of a broader fight against invasive insects. The more I learned about his work, the more I wanted to know about the physical craft of it — and his workshop was the first place I wanted to see.

Outside the wire
Photo by Lena Mucha for The Verge

When the US entered Afghanistan, local DJs were hired to help with the war effort, only to be abandoned when the American military pulled out. This was the most humane piece in our Pirate Radio series, and had some of the most striking portrait photography we did all year.

Experience, experience, experience!
Photo by Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge

This half-built installation at Color Factory’s newest location in Houston, Texas tells the whole story in one image. It’s dazzling upfront — but doesn’t look quite as magical from behind the scenes.

Microsoft Surface Pro X
Photo by Vjeran Pavic / The Verge

Despite the bad reviews for this ARM-based laptop, it was still one of the best pieces of hardware I photographed this year. And it was hard to pick my favorite photo, but I eventually picked the one we used for the thumbnail where the unfolded Surface Pro X forms an “X” silhouette.

Snap Spectacles 3
Photo by Vjeran Pavic / The Verge

This almost forgotten wearable from Snap actually looks more like a fashion accessory than a gadget, so a stylized product photo shoot felt like the perfect approach.


The Verge Holiday Gift Guide 2019
Photo by Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge

We made eight gift guides this year, but the Holiday Gift Guide was by far the biggest and most collaborative. The amazing results are the product of hard work from Amelia Holowaty Krales’ photography, Michele Doying’s stop-motion, and Michael Moore’s organizational skills.

The Terror Queue
Photo by Greg Kahn for The Verge

The third installment of The Verge’s content moderators series looked at former Google employee Daisy Soderberg-Rivkin, showing that even directly employed moderators can face harrowing conditions.