As a kid, I spent most of my time entranced by the natural world. There were the anthills I’d find on miniature backyard safaris and the newts I’d scoop up from the stream behind my elementary school. There were the fish at the aquarium, and the hours-upon-hours of Discovery Channel and Animal Planet content I absorbed. I had an illustrated encyclopedia of life on Earth, and I could flip to any page to meet a new friend.
But as an adult, it’s rare to look at anything in awe. Most of the news published about our planet isn’t good, and usually focuses on what’s gone wrong: Climate change, species extinctions, plastic pollution, environmental injustice. All of that is undeniably important. But sometimes, taking a break from the crises and appreciating what we still have is important, too. After all, it’s hard to keep up the good fight if you can’t remember what you’re fighting for.
These images, all finalists and winners from the 2022 Big Picture News: World Photography Competition, serve as a nice reminder. Take a deep breath, take a minute to slow down, and take a look at some incredible pictures of our planet and its inhabitants.
This gallery was originally published in bioGraphic, an independent magazine about nature and conservation powered by the California Academy of Sciences, and media partner of the BigPicture Natural World Photography Competition.