The Best Photos of the Year
Time Magazine Canadian Edition, December 19 2005
Scientists tell us that eysight works this way: light enters the eye through the pupil, where it's collected on the retina, then transmitted to the visual cortex, an area at the back of the brainwhere it's somehow translated in our minds into an image. What no one has entirely explained is how these weightless images - the things we see - can affect us so deeply. All we know for sure is that they defy the laws of physics. No matter how big you are, they can move you.
That is what makes photographs like the ones we at TIME have chosen as the best of the year- pictures of natural disasters and war and even peace - a force to be reckoned with. Photos condense our already considerable powers of perception within a confined space and a frozen moment of time. In which case, is it any wonder that they set feelings in motion so effectively? And so long as you keep in mind that feelings are no substitute for understanding, that is a good thing. As a rule, judgments require more information than even the best pictures can provide, but feelings help judgements gather force. Susan Sontag, the invaluable American writer who died last year, spent decades mulling over the pros and cons of universe of images we live within today. Toward the end of her life, she tilted in favor of the work they do. "Narrative can make us understand," she wrote. "Photographs do something else: they haunt us."
The pictures on the pages that follow are ones we wre huanted by this year. The paper they are printed on will deteriorats someday, but we're betting the images won't. Because it's a funny thing about photographs and the way they get inscribed in our memory. It's with invisible ink, but it's indelible all the same.
Toronto's Close Call
Passengers flee an Air France Airbus that burst into flames after it skidded to a stop 200m beyond the runway. The crew tried to land during an August thunderstom. All 309 aboard survived. Photograph by Eddie Ho -- Toronto Star/Zuma Press