National Geographic Reveals its 2022 Pictures of the Year

National Geographic Pictures of the Year

National Geographic has published its 2022 Pictures of the Year. The headline story of its December issue, these selections are the result of reviewing more than two million photos that were captured in the field this year.

The photos are a selection of images captured by National Geographic photographers from around the world. The publication says that they offer breathtaking glimpses of a shared human journey and serve to remind viewers of the unique elements of the planet.

“From the discovery of the shipwreck Endurance and the impact of climate change on endangered species to the first summit of Mount Everest by an all-Black team of explorers as well as emotional and striking shots of Ukrainian refugees standing in solidarity, National Geographic captures it all in Pictures of the Year 2022,” the publication writes.

This past year, 132 photographers were sent on assignments to 60 countries and National Geographic says they shipped a total of 4,000 pounds of gear into the field. Together, these photographers filed an astounding 2,238,899 images from 120-degree temperatures in Pakistan’s Sindh and Balochistan provinces to days reaching 49 degrees below zero in Canada’s Northwest Territories. National Geographic says that in the process, nearly every continent was covered, resulting in “a robust and diverse look at life across the globe.”

Below are just a few of the images PetaPixel selected from the full list of photos that are featured both in National Geographic’s December print edition and on its website. Many of them may be new to viewers while some might be familiar, such as the photo of Native American Quannah Rose Chasinghorse or the day-to-night photo of the Grand Canyon thanks to lengthy features on each that PetaPixel featured earlier this year.

Istanbul-based photographer Rena Effendi traveled to Armenia and Azerbaijan in search of Satyrus effendi, a rare and endemic butterfly named after her father, the late Soviet Azerbaijani entomologist Rustam Effendi. While Effendi hasn’t yet spotted the butterfly in the wild, she did photograph a preserved one in the specimen-packed cabin of her father’s protégé Parkev Kazarian, a taxidermist in the mountainous town of Gyumri, Armenia. “I loved that it was still beautiful, even dead,” she says. | Photo by Rena Effendi/National Geographic
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, launched from Cape Canaveral in the early hours of June 19, streaks above a stand of bald cypress trees. This was the second time in less than a year that a SpaceX rocket unexpectedly made its way into photographer Mac Stone’s frame while he was shooting at night in a remote swamp. Stone says that the increased frequency of launches without fanfare “suggests that we have crossed over into a new era where cosmic missions are simply business as usual.” | Photo by Mac Stone
Draped in morning mist, NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) looms over Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Complex 39B in March as the rocket awaits testing. The 322-foot- tall vehicle is the linchpin of NASA’s Artemis program, a stepping stone to Mars that also aims to land the first woman and the first person of color on the moon. With two boosters and four main engines, SLS can fling
a crew capsule moon- ward with 8.8 million pounds of thrust—15 percent more oomph than the Apollo program’s Saturn V rocket. Each SLS will be used only once. After this rocket’s launch during an uncrewed test flight planned for this year, its pieces are expected to either fall into the ocean or enter orbit around the sun. | Photo by Dan Winters/National Geographic
A small refinery on the roof of a laboratory at ETH Zurich pulls carbon dioxide and water directly from the air and feeds them into a reactor that concentrates solar radiation, generating extreme heat. That splits the molecules, creating a mixture that ultimately can be processed into kerosene or methanol. Researchers hope this system eventually can produce market-ready, carbon-neutral jet fuel. One Swiss airline has already announced plans to use the fuel. | Photo by Davide Monteleone/National Geographic
Visitors ascend the spiraling 150-foot- high boardwalk in the yellowing autumn at Denmark’s Camp Adventure to gain a new perspective on the forest southwest of Copenhagen—and, perhaps, on life itself. “Forest bathing,” among the woods’ most powerful and least tangible benefits, has been shown to reduce stress, improving mental and physical well-being.| Photo by Orsolya Haarberg/National Geographic
Around Vostok and other southern Line Islands, in the remote central Pacific, abundant small reef fish support a thriving population of top predators. Here a gray reef shark swims over Montipora corals in a sea of fusilier damselfish and Bartlett’s anthias. Enric Sala, a National Geographic Explorer in Residence, visited the area in 2009 for his Pristine Seas project, which conducted the first scientific surveys of marine life around the islands and recommended protection. Now the sea around the islands is a reserve, which may have helped it recover from a dramatic coral die-off in the wake of a 2015-16
El Niño warming event. On this more recent trip, Sala captured the reefs restored to their former glory. | Photo by Enric Sala/National Geographic
Wearing a protective suit, Armando Salazar steps carefully across sizzling rock, carrying a chunk of glowing lava on a pitchfork. It’s just another day on the job for Salazar, a member of the Spanish military, as he helped scientists collect samples during a 2021 eruption at La Palma’s Cumbre Vieja volcanic ridge. Scientists and others also ventured across fresh flows to monitor gases, record earthquakes, and more, hoping to better understand the event, which lasted for almost 86 days. Their findings can help them determine Cumbre Vieja’s potential for future blasts. | Photo by Arturo Rodriguez
With its Artemis I mission, NASA is kicking off an ambitious plan to return humans to the moon. For the scheduled launch, this uncrewed trip’s commander would be the “moonikin” Campos, named after a NASA engineer who helped save the lives of the Apollo 13 crew. During a trip around the moon slated to last more than a month, Campos is sitting in for crew in the Orion capsule. Sensors in Campos’s headrest and behind its seat track vibration and acceleration, expected to reach four times that of Earth’s gravity. Campos wears radiation sensors and the survival suit that future missions’ flesh-and-blood passengers will use during launch, reentry, and other critical moments. NASA hopes a crew of four will make the next trek aboard Orion as early as May 2024, as part of Artemis II. | Photo by Dan Winters/National Geographic
Vitale showcased these six- month-old cubs snacking and playing as part of her long-term focus on giant panda conservation. | Photo by Ami Vitale/National Geographic
Quannah Rose Chasinghorse uses her visibility to advocate for concerns of Indigenous peoples. “We are still here,” the model and activist says, but “our voices, experiences, stories, cultures, and traditions aren’t recognized the way they should be. We carry so much knowledge, strength, and power, not just trauma and pain. And we are so much more than those harmful stereotypes.” Chasinghorse is Hän Gwich’in and Sičangu/Oglala Lakota, but was born on Diné (Navajo) land in Arizona. Here, she stands in Tse’Bii’Ndzisgaii (Monument Valley), a park the Diné administer. | Photo by Kiliii Yuyan/National Geographic

National Geographic shared a few interesting statistics regarding the Pictures of the Year:

  • The photos in the issue are the top 118 photos from the field. This includes 44 photographers who completed their first National Geographic assignment and the 4000 pounds of gear that Nat Geo staff photo engineer Tom O’Brien shipped into the field
  • 29,032 feet of elevation was attained by Photographer Evan Green as part of the first all-Black team to summit Everest
  • 9,869 feet in depth of the Endurance shipwreck, whose discovery was documented by Photographer Esther Horvath
  • 9 Remote cameras were used by photographer Dan Winters, who had them pointed at Artemis I on Sept. 27 – until its launch was halted as Hurricane Ian formed
  • 4 types of transport, including a powered paraglider that photographer Ben Depp used to document Louisiana’s coast
  • 1 Tripod taken by a hyena when Jen Guyton was photographing hyenas in Kenya

NatGeo Pictures of the Year by the numbers

Along with these photos, National Geographic has also launched its first photo contest in years to support the issue. From now until the end of December, the publication is inviting people to submit their favorite picture for a chance to be included in National Geographic Magazine, as well as get featured on Nat Geo’s Your Shot Instagram page. The details of the contest can be found on

Full coverage of National Geographic’s Pictures of the Year can also be found on

Image credits: All photos are individually credited and provided courtesy of National Geographic.