What your 2020 looked like in photos, part 5

From hundreds of submissions, here is a selection of our favourite images.

by Ryan White
31 December 2020, 8:00am

Normally at this time of year, we reach out to a handful of photographers and regular contributors and ask them to submit a selection of photos under the heading: My Year in Photos. It’s a chance for the artist to look back and remember their year via images from their archive that may have otherwise gone unseen. (If you’ve never checked out the series before, find it here).

But 2020, of course, has felt very different to the years that came before it, and with that in mind, we wanted to honour this dramatic shift with a different perspective on the last 12 months. So we opened up submissions to everyone and asked i-D followers — be it a professional, amateur, or rarely-ever photographer — to submit a single image that attempts to encapsulate their 2020, if such a thing was possible.

There were hundreds of responses, from all over the world, and – sadly – too many to publish altogether. But we’ve narrowed it down to 100, 25 per day for the final five days of 2020. There’s tears, laughter, embraces, isolation, protests and moments of peace, that, without wanting to fall too deep into cliché, speak to a shared experience felt from Tanzania to Taiwan, Wuhan to the West Country.

topless couple lying on a bed

Vernay Erika, 30, Paraná, Entre Ríos, Argentina

“The weirdest year of our lives, seen through a cell phone screen.”

a man after swimming in a lake

Joshua Sneade, 25, Telford, England

"During this turbulent year, myself and a group of friends took to wild swimming as a valuable source of equanimity."

black lives matter protest

Luke Lentes, 30, London

“This photograph sums up my year because it is an illustration of the fact that my generation have been forced to step up to the front line on global issues this year and make our voices heard in whatever way we can.”

man lying in bed

Lex, 18, Puerto Rico

“Either sleeping or attending Zoom university.”

a woman in a car with a face mask hanging from the door handle

Beatrice Mai, 19, New York

“COVID restrictions gave our nature a chance to breathe, reducing global nitrogen dioxide concentration by nearly 20%; 2020 is the year I realised how much I cherish and long for nature.”

a mean screaming covered in cling film

Jack Dione, 19, Orange County, California

“My frustration and stagnancy exude in muffled cries, repeating with meticulous accuracy.”

a woman on a bus with a face mask and the reflection of a public bathroom sign

Rodrigo Pires, 23, Sao Paulo, Brazil

“2020 in Brazil was marked by the deepening of social inequality and lack of significant action by the government against the coronavirus. People could not stop going out because they had to work to keep themselves and their families alive. We have not yet reached a second wave per se, for the first one never ceased.”

a man sitting on a fence

Moriah, 18, Chicago

“He was the only other visible person for blocks and I felt like I was looking in the mirror.”


Félix Bruneau, 24, France

 "Holding on to life."

the moon

Anmol, 24, India

“Unbelievable, orb, traveller, night light for the world — good companion. Long nights and long days, window cuddles and moon kisses.”

a man sat on his bed with headphones on

Samuel, 24, Toronto

"The realisation of things, how lonely you feel, unlearning and relearning things."

a girl in an astronaut uniform

Tobias, Germany

“The astronaut is my symbol for excitement, danger, and a lot of changes and loneliness this year. It’s also my symbol for looking forward, to keep on going and for having new fantastic times and adventures in the future. You never know what’s gonna happen today, it’s like going to space.”

a man sat next to a rail of clothing

Kamyiis, 23, New York

“This image embodies my 2020, for me as a young entrepreneur and how slow business was for me and every other entrepreneur.”

blurry polaroid of a woman

Cansu Koca, 21, Tilburg, The Netherlands

“This represents my 2020, since I am trying to hold on to the concept of control of my life. However, I have acknowledged that I have lost a part of agency due to unforeseeable circumstances.”

a girl painting a shoe

Rachel, 18, Bucks County, Pennsylvania

“We all spent this year trying to create something new out of something old.”

a sign reading where are we now

Shane, 22, London 

“An image I have been returning to throughout the year.”


Julie Benatar, 17, New York

“2020 has been an illuminating year in terms of getting to know myself and realising what is important to me in life.”

a man in the shadows

Gabriel Lopez, 18, Los Angeles

“The serene and stagnant process of learning how to heal.”

a long hospital corridor

Maria Francisca Neves, 21, Porto, Portugal

"Ahead, light behind a line that separates the battles, the pain, the distance, the darkness of the unknown, in a hospital that fights for people, for life, for time.”

two men lying on a rock by a river

Jason Turner, 18, Harlem 

“This photograph I took of my friends speaks to how as young black men in 2020, we must continue to live and keep our heads lifted as our brothers and sisters die around us.”


All images courtesy the artist

my year in a photo