By Ted Anthony
The mission of photojournalism is to capture moments that represent — and, at their best, truly reveal — the endless spectrum of the human experience. Associated Press photographers across the world have spent 2023 doing exactly that — sometimes at great risk or personal exertion, always with ethics and compassion and quality, and with an eye forever trained toward the memorable.
When those photographers encounter the world, though — from Israel and Gaza to Brazil, from Mongolia to the American heartland and beyond — often they have no idea what they'll find until it is upon them.
Here is some of what they found in 2023, in all its contradictions:
Conflict. Ambition. Anger. Injustice. Striving. Merriment. Poverty. Blood. The quest for excellence, no matter the arena. The human body, in glorious and panicked motion and, too often, sadly stilled. Struggle — to protect loved ones, to navigate a warming planet, to escape strife and oppression, to survive nature's capriciousness.
Death, life and more death — in all its unwelcome permutations. Bursts of joy in unexpected places. Tears upon tears upon tears. Wars that have just begun, wars that continue, wars already almost forgotten. The gamut of human existence.
News photographers in the 21st century find astonishingly different ways to show the world to us — ways we might not even notice consciously but, to them, are carefully calibrated storytelling tools.
These photos, taken together, are a catalog of an entire year. They are a mosaic of news that darted across our stage, astonished us, repulsed us, interested us and — in the best cases — made us care, if only for a few seconds, about a year that passed this way once and will never come again.
Pamela Cerruti carries clothing from Pajaro Coin Laundry in Pajaro, Calif., as floodwaters surround machines on March 14, 2023. “We lost it all. That’s half a million dollars of equipment,” said Pamela. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)
A helicopter transports the 2023 Challenger SRT Demon 170 during an event to unveil the car on March 20, 2023, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Former President Donald Trump is escorted to a courtroom in New York on April 4, 2023, to appear on charges related to falsifying business records in a hush money investigation. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
Smoke that drifted south from Canadian wildfires creates a thick haze over New York Harbor as the Staten Island Ferry passes the Statue of Liberty on June 7, 2023. (AP Photo/Yuki Iwamura)
Members of the Vegas Golden Knights celebrate after defeating the Florida Panthers to win the Stanley Cup in Game 5 of the NHL hockey Stanley Cup Finals in Las Vegas on June 13, 2023. (AP Photo/Abbie Parr)
Sunlight bursts through a cloud over the wreckage of a wildfire in Lahaina, Hawaii, Aug. 10, 2023. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)
The Tidal Basin in Washington overflows its banks following heavy rain from Tropical Storm Ophelia on Sept. 23, 2023. (AP Photo/J. David Ake)
Javon Love, right, performs with Baby Angel, doing the splits, during “Mimosas & Heels Drag Brunch” at the Public House in Norfolk, Va., Sunday, March 5, 2023. The drag bunch was hosted by Harpy Daniels and Javon Love. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)