The world is full of noises. Even as we seek silence, it's hard to quiet the chatter in our brains—the remnants of a Twitter feed may invade our mental landscape; a shadow of a blue Facebook box pops into a subconscious mental slide show as we finally submit to sleep. We talk so much these days, even when it's not out loud. We debate the big issues and the small—we passionately expound on gun violence one day and Instagram's terms of service agreement the next. We discuss furthering the Occupy movement; we show each other our brunches. Through social media, we have become so tight-knit, so technologically close, yet every moment experienced there—our words and ideas—have become that much more fleeting.
It's become hard to keep up with the world that we, ourselves, have created. That's exactly why this year's Photo Issue has taken on new meaning for me.
A photo makes no sound; it writes no words. It hovers in quiet stillness. Perhaps most importantly, a photo makes that moment stay.
The year 2012 saw big moments: the Arab Spring and Pussy Riot, Hurricane Sandy and Sandy Hook. We held our breath for Obama to get reelected and some states got the right to exhale a celebratory bong hit.
But there were also tiny moments from our daily lives—and those didn't go unnoticed. As I sifted through the hundreds of submissions for our sixth annual Photo Issue, I got to inhabit those moments. Mark Hetzel captured life and death in the same moment at the Garfield Park Conservatory. Paul Moody exposed the quiet solitude of a man sitting alone at Millennium Park on a chilly April day. Ashley Marchi offered a shred of hope for times when we feel like the whole world has gone mad.
The following pages pay homage to the tiny moments that our readers found artful, soulful, ephemeral, or, for whatever reason, worthy of preserving. Enjoy the silence. —Andrea Bauer
Readers chimed in and voted for their favorite submissions to our Photo Issue contest on Facebook and Instagram. Congratulations to our winners: Bill Guerriero (Facebook) and Carey Lundin (Instagram).