Unforgettable global photos of 2023: Drone pix, a disappearing island, happiness

Ten-month-old Ahmin Esas, who was born with clubfoot, shares a moment with his mother and brother in the family's home

A ten-month-old girl, with a first flush of silky black hair and bathed in warm light, giggles as her cackling big brother gives her a hug. Her mother, Pho Sok, hoists the happy baby and beams at both children.

The little girl in this photo, taken near Battambang, Cambodia, was born with clubfoot. Pho Sok had first believed her daughter would never walk on her own. Once she learned the condition could be treated she immediately made it her mission. Pho Sok’s hope, her son’s joy and her daughter’s radiance are all unmistakable in this image, captured by photographer Tommy Trenchard.

That depth and emotion shine through in so many of the photos we publish on Goats and Soda. This year we’ve showcased images from Sierra Leone to Haiti, from Bangladesh to Peru – and each one tells an unforgettable story. Here are some of our most memorable photo pieces from 2023.

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Drone Photo Award winners capture the extraordinary beauty of the ordinary

A rice field, a playground, piles of garbage — cameras from above cast a lens at earthly images with surprising, even dazzling results. Here are some of the winners from the 2023 Drone Photo Awards. Published July 2, 2023

How do you take a picture of happiness? We asked photographers to surprise us

For this year’s International Day of Happiness (March 20, as proclaimed by the United Nations), the themes were gratitude and kindness. We gave photographers across the world an assignment: Bring us images that convey those feelings, however you interpret them. They certainly delivered. Published March 19, 2023

A disappearing island: ‘The water is destroying us, one house at a time’

The island of Nyangai off the coast of Sierra Leone is on the front line of climate change. More frequent and intense weather has eroded Nyangai down to a nubbin, and the residents who remain are fearful for its future. Published November 19, 2023

‘It’s not for the faint-hearted’ — the story of India’s intrepid women seaweed divers

In goggles and flip flops, they dive to harvest seaweed. It’s risky work. They’ll earn $3 to $6 a day. Now climate change and environmental rules are making it harder to pursue the traditional profession. Published May 7, 2023

Waiting for water: It’s everywhere in this Colombian city — except in the pipes

The country is rich in water resources. Yet many people in the city of Santa Marta struggle to get enough to meet daily needs. They improvise, strategize — and rely on a tangle of 1-inch pipes. Published December 3, 2023

Global heat hacks, from jazzy umbrellas in DRC to ice beans in Singapore

We asked photographers around the globe to make pictures of how the locals cope with this year’s record heat. They created some really cool images. Published August 19, 2023

A dance of hope by children who scavenge coal

Kids in India illegally collect bits of coal to sell so they can help their families. To give them a chance for a brighter future, a local educator gives them lessons in academics and the arts. Published February 18, 2023

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