2020: Remarkable Moments from Shutterstock’s Editorial Collection

Let’s take a look at the remarkable moments that shaped 2020, curated from Shutterstock’s Editorial Collection of over 50 million images.

Towards the end of each year, we embark on the process of creating our Editorial Year Review collection, rediscovering some of the very best pictures from throughout the year (as well as some we’ve never seen before).

Where to Begin?

We have to decide on the content we want to feature. We know we want to share the most stunning and impactful images from the year, but that’s an ambiguous ask. With such a broad customer base, this roundup must cater to all of their needs––whether that’s a customer wanting the best, most comprehensive sports content or a publication wanting an edit of the very best ten editorial images of the year, regardless of genre.

How Is the Content Arranged? 

Rather than compiling the most remarkable images in one page, we set about breaking down the specific content we want to feature in detail.

Here, we have attempted to cater to as many audiences as possible by offering curations across Entertainment, News, Sports, Fashion, Obituaries, Quirky, and Royal. But the craziness that was 2020 prompted us to offer event-specific curations on the stories that dominated the headlines— including the novel coronavirus, the Black Lives Matter Movement, the U.S. Presidential Election, and one we always feature, although it feels like a lifetime ago, Awards Season. 

These genre-specific images are further broken down by month, and we also feature a monthly roundup of all genres grouped together.

Summarizing this year is no easy feat. However, we’ve curated the Editorial Year in Review collection to highlight the very best images of the year, regardless of the genre. Explore the Top 200, Top 50, and Top 10 stand-out moments of 2020. 

Here’s our 2020 review in ninety seconds:

Let’s see how we approached our Editorial Collection of the Year.

Keywords and Editors’ Picks

Editors’ Picks” is a category used to showcase the top editorial photography on the Shutterstock Editorial platform. We ask each of the editors to apply this term to images that they feel are of exceptional quality. This is highly useful since the Editor’s Picks selection forms the backbone of our Editorial Year in Review. 

Images featuring this phrase highlight the richness of Shutterstock’s Editorial content, with editors selecting noteworthy imagery from current events and cultural moments. 

Some of our key partners, such as EPA and AP, curate their own premium content by using a similar keyword phrase.  

Pre-made curations 

Throughout the year, our editorial team produces daily curations for our customers. We house these curations in a central document and use them to augment our Editors’ Picks selection.

Contributors and Editorial Team 

We ask our highly-skilled Editorial team for their favorite images of the year. On top of this, we asked our Staff Photographers and some key contributors for their personal favorites.

Once all this content is gathered, we start to break it down and split it into genres, events, and months.

For this year’s review, we have featured seventy-six galleries of images. These galleries are then individually assessed: How thorough is it? Is it lacking key material? Is it too heavy in one specific topic/genre? 

Our Editorial team has been invaluable in the creation of this page. It’s reassuring to be able to ask any of them to find “the best entertainment pictures from June” or “the most interesting images from the BAFTA Film Awards,” and know that it’ll be done to the exact standard we require.

Once the content is primed and ready, we start producing the web page.

Best Of’s 

The 2020 Year Review page features over 11,300 images, and by the end of December, it may reach 12,500. All of these images are ones we consider to be above average. From this selection, we produced a Top 200, and from there selected a Top 50, then a Top 10.

This year has been dominated by major news stories––we could have chosen 200 images alone from the nights of protests that followed the death of George Floyd. Each of the images from those nights could be considered “better” than the selected image of a worker laying out rows and rows of incense sticks (below), however, we wanted to feature a breadth of image type and genre. 

What Makes a Great Picture?  

A great image could be outstanding for many reasons, including relevance and topicality, technical quality, subject matter, and emotional impact.

An image will resonate differently depending on who’s looking at it. If a person can define why they think an image is great, for whatever reason, then we’re not one to argue.

For our Top 10 images of the year, we took into account the year as a whole, selecting images that were considered significant. You could say that significant images are those that are timeless, make you feel something, and for some reason, you can’t stop looking at.

Burning buildings in Minneapolis, the celebrating cast of Parasite, emotion etched on the faces of the nurses during the “applause for essential workers,” the simplicity of the message “I Can’t Breath[e]” on the mask of a protester, and the new normal of socially distanced circles––here are the images that tell the story of 2020. 

Remarkable Moments in 2020

Let’s take a look at the moments that will stay in our memories when this year is over:

The Cast of ParasiteSong Kang-Ho, Bong Joon-Ho, So-dam Park, Jeong-eun Lee, Sun-kyun Lee, and Woo-shik Choi win Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture for Parasite at the 26th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards in Los Angeles, California, Jan. 19, 2020. Image via David Fisher/​Shutterstock.

Ariana GrandeAriana Grande at the 62nd Annual Grammy Awards in Los Angeles, California, Jan. 26, 2020. Image via David Fisher/​Shutterstock.

25th National Television AwardsCaitlyn Jenner (center) with Anthony McPartlin (left) and Declan Donnelly (right) at the 25th National Television Awards show in London, UK, Jan. 28, 2020. Image via David Fisher/​Shutterstock.

Renée Zellweger Renée Zellweger wins Leading Actress for the film Judy at the 92nd Annual Academy Awards in Los Angeles, California, Feb. 9, 2020. Image via David Fisher/​Shutterstock.

Words at the Window: Self Isolation and the CoronavirusJohn and Stephanie Stislow and daughters Mira and Nona pose for “Words at the Window: Self Isolation and the Coronavirus,” a portrait series by Shutterstock staff photographer Stephen Lovekin, shot around the Ditmas Park neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York, Mar. 23, 2020. Image via Stephen Lovekin/​Shutterstock.

Medical Workers During Coronavirus PandemicMedical workers are seen outside Lenox Health Greenwich Village, New York, as people applaud at 7pm to show their gratitude to medical staff and essential workers on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic, Apr. 28, 2020. Image via Nina Westervelt/​Shutterstock.

Social Distancing Circles in San FranciscoCircles designed to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus by encouraging social distancing line San Francisco’s Dolores Park on May 21, 2020. Image via Noah Berger/​AP/​Shutterstock.

Incense FactoryBunches of incense sticks create a beautiful display of color as they are laid out to dry. A worker carefully laid out dozens of the vibrant bundles on the ground closely together. Aerial shots of the incense factory in Quang Phu Cau, Hanoi, Vietnam, show the sticks creating a sea of color, May 21, 2020. Image via Khanh Phan/​Solent News/​Shutterstock.

George Floyd ProtestsA protester carries the American flag upside down next to a burning building in Minneapolis, Minn. Protests over the death of George Floyd, a black man who died in police custody, broke out in Minneapolis for a third straight night (May 28, 2020). Image via Julio Cortez/​AP/​Shutterstock.

Black Lives Matter ProtestA girl wears a face mask during a Black Lives Matter rally on June 6, 2020 in Parliament Square, in London, as they protest against the killing of George Floyd by police officers. Image via Frank Augstein/​AP/​Shutterstock.

Black Lives Matter ProtestA policewoman falls off a horse as police try to clear a Black Lives Matter demonstration on Whitehall, in London, on June 6, 2020. Image via James Veysey/​Shutterstock.

George Floyd ProtestA man takes part in a Black Lives Matter protest on Vauxhall Bridge Road, in London, on June 6, 2020. Image via James Veysey/​Shutterstock.

Black Lives Matter ProtestA man is carried to safety after being attacked, as protesters from an anti-racist demonstration pass through Waterloo, London on June 13, 2020. Image via James Veysey/​Shutterstock.

George Floyd Protest on JuneteenthA protester sits atop a statue holding a picture of George Floyd near Grand Army Plaza as part of a celebration of Juneteenth in New York City, June 19, 2020. Image via Stephen Lovekin/​Shutterstock.

Drive-In CinemaA Luna Cinema screening of Back to the Future at Blenheim Palace, Oxfordshire, UK on July 6, 2020. Image via James Veysey/​Shutterstock.

Tilda SwintonTilda Swinton attends The Ties premiere and opening ceremony at the 77th Venice International Film Festival in Italy on Sep. 2, 2020. Image via David Fisher/​Shutterstock.

Royal Mail PostboxA Royal Mail postbox painted as part of Black History Month in October, in Brixton, London, on Sept. 30, 2020. Image via James Veysey/​Shutterstock.

Presidential Election 2020Two young women embrace in the fountain in Washington Square Park in New York City to celebrate the election of Joe Biden as the 46th President of the United States on Nov. 7, 2020. Image via Stephen Lovekin/​Shutterstock.

In conclusion, 2020 has been a year like no other. We have documented it well within our editorial image collection. Browse by genres, editors’ selection, month, and stories of interest.

Cover image via Khanh Phan/​Solent News/​Shutterstock.

Find even more of the people and events that inspired us this year:

6 Women Whose Little-Known Research Led the Way in STEMUnforgettable Photographic Moments: 2020’s “Big Four” Fashion Weeks2020 Election Day: Look Back at History’s Most Astonishing Election Cycle7 Legendary Activists to Celebrate on World AIDS DayPhotojournalist Josh Edelson on Images of Wildfires and Climate Change

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