A Year of Photographers in the Picture

3 minute read

A little shy of a year ago—with the world’s attention focused on a change of power in North Korea—a photo of Kim Jung Il’s funeral, released by KCNA (North Korean Central News Agency), sparked controversy. The image had been manipulated—less for overt political ends, more for visual harmony. The photo’s offending elements, photoshopped from the image, were not political adversaries or top secret information, but a group of photographers who had disturbed the aesthetic order of the highly orchestrated and meticulously planned occasion.

In an age where seemingly every occasion is documented through photography from every conceivable angle—an estimated 380 billion photographs will be taken this year alone—it’s not only North Korean bureaucrats who are wrestling to keep hoards of other photographers out of their pictures.

Photographers frequently appear in news photographs made by others. Banks of cameras greet celebrities and public figures at every event; cell phones held high by admirers become a tribute in lights, but a distraction to the viewer. Amateurs and professionals, alike, appear in backgrounds and in foregrounds of images made at both orchestrated events and in more candid moments. The once-invisible professional photographer’s process has been laid bare.

On occasion, photographers even purposefully make their fellow photographers the subject of their pictures. The most difficult picture to take, it seems, is one without the presence of another photographer either explicitly or implicitly in the frame.

Everyone wants to record their own version of reality—ironically, it turns out, because by distracting oneself with a camera, it’s easy to miss the true experience of a moment. At a recent Jack White concert, the guitarist requested that audience members stop trying to take their own photos. “The bigger idea,” his label noted in a statement, “is for people to experience the event with their own eyes and not watch an entire show through a tiny screen in their hand. We have every show photographed professionally and the pictures are available from Jack White’s website shortly after to download for free.”

The abundance of camera phones and inexpensive digital cameras has changed the photographic landscape in countless and still-incompletely understood ways, and it’s not just the North Korean government trying to find ways around the hoards of photographers making their way into everyone else’s shots. Here, TIME looks back on the past year to highlight an increasingly common phenomenon: the photographer in the picture.

June 26, 2012. Members of the audience take pictures as U.S. President Barack Obama steps to the podium at a fundraising event in Atlanta, Ga.David Goldman—AP
Sept. 15, 2012. Pope Benedict XVI waves as he arrives on his popemobile for a meeting with youths at Bkerke in Harissa, near Beirut.Stefan Rellandini—Reuters
June 19, 2012. Egyptian supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood celebrate a premature victory for their presidential candidate, Mohamed Morsi, in Tahrir Square.Yuri Kozyrev—NOOR for TIME
Sept. 28, 2012. Entertainer Jay-Z performs on stage at the newly built Barclays Center in the Brooklyn borough of New York City.Carlo Allegri—Reuters
Feb. 11, 2012. Syracuse University photographer Michael Okoniewski takes a picture through the roof of the Carrier Dome before the start of a NCAA men's basketball game between Syracuse Orange and Connecticut Huskies in Syracuse, New York.Adam Fenster—Reuters
Feb. 27, 2012. Former supermodel Naomi Campbell presents a creation from Roberto Cavalli's 2012 Autumn/Winter collection during Milan Fashion Week.Alessandro Garofalo—Reuters
Jan. 29, 2012. Restaurant worker try to look from behind a window at Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney as he meets with voters at Casa Marin restaurant in Hialeah, Fla.Emmanuel Dunand—AFP/Getty Images
May 6, 2012. Socialist Party (PS) candidate Francois Hollande greets people during a visit in a village in Tulle, southwestern France.Fred Dufour—AFP/Getty Images
Oct. 23, 2012. Members of the media photograph the Soyuz rocket as it launches with Expedition 33/34 crew members to the International Space Station from Baikonur, Kazakhstan.Bill Ingalls—NASA via Getty Images
Mar. 26, 2012. A Tibetan exile man, identified as Jampa Yeshi, runs engulfed in flames after self-immolating during a demonstration in New Delhi, India.Manish Swarup—AP
May 3, 2012. Reporters at the site of the demolished compound of Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in northern Abbottabad, Pakistan one year and one day after he was killed.Zhang Yong—Xinhua/LANDOV
A group of journalists walk down a road in front of North Korea's Unha-3 rocket at Sohae Satellite Station in Tongchang-ri, North Korea on April 8, 2012.David Guttenfelder—AP
Jan. 17, 2012. Cameramen film the stricken cruise liner Costa Concordia off the Italian island, Isola del Giglio.Fliippo Monteforte—AFP/Getty Images
Jan. 13, 2012. Palestinian protesters run to seek cover from tear gas fired by Israeli troops during a weekly protest against the Jewish settlement of Qadomem, near Nablus, the West Bank.Alaa Badarneh—EPA
Feb. 24, 2012. A video journalist films an Israeli soldier firing tear gas towards Palestinian protesters demanding the reopening of a key street in the West Bank city of Hebron.Hazem Bader—AFP/Getty Images
April 4, 2012. An anti-government protester throws a molotov cocktail at riot police during a march in Sanabis, west of Manama, demanding the release of Abdulhadi al-Khawaja, who is in prison serving a life term for leading a pro-democracy uprising in Bahrain last year.Hamad I Mohammed—Reuters
Mar. 13, 2012. A Palestinian fires in the air during the funeral of a militant in Gaza City.Hatem Moussa—AP
April 7, 2012. Photojournalists protesting in solidarity with citizens attacked by riot police in Thessaloniki, Greece.Konstantinos Tsakalidis—Demotix/Corbis
Sept. 10, 2012. Alcoa Inc's workers throw plastic bottles as they protest against their dismissals from employment in front of the Ministry of Employment building in Rome.Tony Gentile—Reuters
June 24, 2012. Egyptians celebrate the election of their new president Mohamad Morsi in Tahrir Square in Cairo, Egypt.Daniel Berehulak—Getty Images
June 24, 2012. Egyptians celebrate the election of their new president Mohamad Morsi in Cairo, Egypt.Daniel Berehulak—Getty Images
Feb. 17, 2012. U.S. President Barack Obama walks down the stairs of a Boeing 787 Dreamliner before giving a speech on the Dreamliner assembly line in Everett, Washington.Stephen Brashear—Getty Images
Mar. 1, 2012. US President Barack Obama greets people after arriving in the snow at Manchester-Boston Regional Airport in Manchester, New Hampshire.Susan Walsh—AP
April 10, 2012. President Barack Obama greets residents as he arrives for a campaign event in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida.Carolyn Kaster—AP
July 10, 2012. People record first lady Michelle Obama as she greets supporters and volunteers at the Barbara Goleman High School in Miami Lakes, Florida.Joe Raedle—Getty Images
Sept. 2, 2012. A girl takes a photo with an iPad as police keep watch over the March on Wall Street South protest in Charlotte, NC.Brendan Hoffman
Jan. 11, 2012. An audience members takes a photo of US President Barack Obama as he speaks during a campaign event at the University of Illinois at Chicago.Haraz N. Ghanbari—AP
July 13, 2012. Kingston Stillwell Thomas, 9, listens to U.S. President Barack Obama as he holds a picture for him to sign during a campaign rally at Phoebus High School in Hampton, Virginia.Jason Reed—Reuters
May 11, 2012. Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney talks with Senator Richard Burr, R-N.C., before a campaign stop at Charlotte Pipe and Foundry Company in Charlotte, N.C.Jae C. Hong—AP
Mar. 30, 2012. Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney campaigns at a fish fry at American Serb Hall in Milwaukee.Eric Thayer—The New York Times via Redux
Jan. 21, 2012. Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney climbs over a table at a campaign event at Tommy's Ham House in Greenville, South Carolina.Eric Thayer—Reuters
April 18, 2012. Linda Jones takes a photo with her phone while former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney speaks at Roof With A View in Charlotte, North Carolina.John Adkisson—The New York Times via Redux
Feb. 17, 2012. People take photos and wave as US President Barack Obama's motorcade departs San Francisco en route to Everett, Washington to visit the Boeing Everett Production Facility.Stephen Crowley—The New York Times via Redux
June 15, 2012. Republican Presidential candidate, Mitt Romney, takes a photograph with a supporter as he and his wife Ann Romney scoop ice cream for people during a campaign event in Milford, New Hampshire.Joe Raedle—Getty Images
Nov. 29, 2012. US singer-songwriter Taylor Swift with fans on her arrival for the 26th ARIA Awards at the Sydney Entertainment Centre, in Sydney, Australia.Tracey Nearmy—EPA
Oct. 30, 2012. Cast member Daniel Craig takes a photograph of himself with fans as he arrives for the German premiere for the film "Skyfall" in Berlin.Tobias Schwarz—Reuters
Feb. 26, 2012. Actress Angelina Jolie arrives at the 84th Annual Academy Awards held at the Hollywood Highland Center in Hollywood, Calif.Frazer Harrison—Getty Images
Sept. 9, 2012. Spectators at the Olympic Stadium during the closing ceremony of the London 2012 Paralympic Games.Tal Cohen—EPA
June 25, 2012. Members of the media take pictures and videos of the home of Chief Executive-elect Leung Chun-ying in Hong Kong.Vincent Yu—AP
Oct. 13, 2012. People take photos as the Space Shuttle Endeavour is moved to the California Science Center in Los Angeles, USA.Lucy Nicholson—EPA
Oct. 13, 2012. A man takes a photo as Space Shuttle Endeavour travels to the California Science Center in Inglewood, Los Angeles.Rick Loomis—Reuters
Feb. 21, 2012. A photographer takes a photo of a copy of the "Mona Lisa," on display in Spain's Prado Museum in Madrid.Paul White—AP
Feb. 20, 2012. Dancers of Vila Isabel samba school parade during Carnival celebrations at the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.Felipe Dana—AP
July 1, 2012. People throw confetti from their windows during the Gay Pride parade in Toronto.Mark Blinch—Reuters
Feb. 17, 2012. Libyans wave Kingdom of Libya flags as they celebrate the first anniversary of the uprising that toppled Muammar Gaddafi, along a street in Benghazi.Esam Al-Fetori—Reuters
June 22, 2012. Kashmiri Muslims pray as an unseen custodian displays a holy relic, believed to be a hair from the Prophet Muhammad's beard, at Kashmir's main Hazratbal Shrine in Srinagar on during the last Friday of celebrations for Miraj-Ul-Alam.Tauseef Mustafa—AFP/Getty Images
April 12, 2012. Palestinian bride Mhaha Salam, pinned with paper money, which is traditionally given as a wedding gift, walks down the street on her wedding day in the West Bank village of Deir Estia.Jaafar Ashtiyeh—AFP/Getty Images
May 31, 2012. Fifteen Chinese couples who already got married in China, travelled to Germany to repeat their promise of marriage at Neuschwanstein Castle in Fuessen, Gerymany.Michael Dalder—Reuters
Jan. 15, 2012. Photographers climb on a traffic pole to take pictures as an overcrowded train leaves from the outskirts of Dhaka.Andrew Biraj—Reuters
April 20, 2012. People look out of their windows as a giant deep sea diver puppet, part of a street theater production "Sea Odyssey," walks through Liverpool streets in in northwest England.Paul Ellis—AFP/Getty Images
July 19, 2012. Saudis use a telescope to monitor the new moon of Ramadan as astronomers and scholars of Islam debate when the holy Muslim month of Ramadan begins, in the Saudi city of Taif.Amer Hilabi—AFP/Getty Images
April 6, 2012. Shutter-happy cherry blossom viewers take pictures of cats on a branch at Ueno Park in Tokyo, Japan.Natsuki Sakai—Nippon News/ABACAUSA.com
Aug. 18, 2012. A humpback whales lunges out of the water to feed near a gathering of spectators just off a beach at San Luis Obispo, California.Bill Bouton—AP
Mar. 6, 2012. A 30-foot replica of Michelangelo's David by Turkish conceptual artist Serkan Ozkaya titled is parked in front of the Storefront for Art and Architecture in the Soho area of New York City.Stan Honda—AFP/Getty Images
Feb. 25, 2012. Members of the audience react as they watch a mixed martial arts match at a fight night in Mumbai.Danish Siddiqui—Reuters
Mar. 4, 2012. Lazio's Hernanes celebrates after scoring against AS Roma during a match at the Olympic stadium in Rome.Alessandro Bianchi—Reuters
Aug. 16, 2012. Riders fall as their horses crash during the Palio race in Siena.Alessandro Bianchi—Reuters
Aug. 3, 2012. Britain's Jessica Ennis competes in her women's heptathlon shot put Group A event at the London 2012 Olympic Games.Eddie Keogh—Reuters
May 3, 2012. German Formula One racing driver Sebastian Vettel at the FIA Formula One World Championship in Mugello, Italy.Hoch Zwei—DPA/ZUMAPRESS.com
Feb. 22, 2012. Tiger Woods hits a left-handed shot out of the rough on the second fairway during the first round of the Match Play Championship golf tournament in Marana, Arizona.Julie Jacobson—AP
Jan. 17, 2012. The peleton rides past spectators in bathtubs during Stage 1 of the 2012 Tour Down Under in Clare, South Australia.Mark Gunter—AFP/Getty Images
May 9, 2012. Spyridon Gianniotis, Greece's world champion of swimming, carries the flame during a dress rehearsal for the torch lighting ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games at the site of ancient Olympia in Greece.Kevin Coombs—Reuters
Jan. 29, 2012. Novak Djokovic celebrates winning the singles title in the Australian Open at Melbourne Park, claiming the longest Grand Slam final in historyAction Press/ZUMAPRESS.com
Oct. 29, 2012. Russia's Maria Sharapova reacts to a television camera during an exhibition tennis match against Czech Republic's Petra Kvitova and Lucie Safarova.David W. Cerny—Reuters
Sept. 12, 2012. Audience members watch a model during the J. Mendel Spring/Summer 2013 show at New York Fashion Week.Andrew Burton—Reuters
Sept. 27, 2012. A model has her hair done backstage prior to the show of French designer Barbara Bui at the Paris Fashion Week Ready-to-Wear Spring/Summer 2013.Yoan Valat—EPA
Jan. 23, 2012. A model presents a creation by French designer Alexis Mabille as part of his Haute Couture Spring-Summer 2012 fashion show in Paris.Charles Platiau—Reuters
Sept. 6, 2012. A woman takes photographs of models as they present creations from the Katie Gallagher Spring/Summer 2013 collection during New York Fashion Week.Lucas Jackson—Reuters
May 10, 2012. Photographers take pictures of cast member Rihanna as she arrives at the American premiere of the Universal Pictures film "Battleship" in Los Angeles.Danny Moloshok—Reuters
Mar. 8, 2012. Britain's Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, is greeted by members of the public as she arrives at Leicester station, in central England.Paul Hackett—Reuters
Jan. 18, 2012. Myanmar democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi waves to supporters as she leaves the Thanlyin township election commission office after she registered to run as a candidate in upcoming by-elections, on the outskirts of Yangon.Soe Than Win—AFP/Getty Images
Mar. 22, 2012. Rev. Al Sharpton departs a rally for slain teenager Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Florida.Mario Tama—Getty Images
Feb. 24, 2012. People take photographs with their cell phones as Gaza's Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh gives a speech after Friday prayer at Al Azhar mosque in Cairo, Egypt.Khalil Hamra—AP
April 15, 2012. North Korea's leader Kim Jong-Un waves at the end of a major military parade to mark 100 years since the birth of his grandfather, the country's founder, Kim Il-Sung, in Pyongyang.Pedro Ugarte—AFP/Getty Images
May 26, 2012. Presidential candidate Hamdeen Sabahi greets a crowd of supporters outside his campaign headquarters after a news conference, in Cairo.Asmaa Waguih—Reuters
May 7, 2012. President-elect Francois Hollande waves from the balcony of the Socialist Party headquarters in Paris.Michel Spingler—AP
Nicolas Sarkozy at Vaucouleurs during the celebration of the 600th anniversary of the birth of Joan of Arc.Guillaume Binet—MYOP
Feb. 20, 2012. Pope Benedict XVI greets the new Cardinals, along with their relatives and friends at Paolo VI Hall in Vatican City, Vatican.Maurizio Brambatti—EPA
April 1, 2012. Pope Benedict XVI leaves after celebrating the Palm Sunday mass in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican.Vincenzo Pinto—AFP/Getty Images
Mar. 25, 2012. People wave to Pope Benedict XVI outside Nuestra Senora de La Luz (Our Lady of Light) Cathedral, where he went for a mass with Latin American Archbishops in Leon, Mexico.Ronaldo Schemidt—AFP/Getty Images
Sept. 14, 2012. A Bishop take pictures as Pope Benedict XVI (not pictured) leads a ceremony at the Saint Paul cathedral in Harissa village east Beirut, Lebanon.Wael Hamzeh—EPA
June 10, 2012. Former U.S. President George W. Bush looks on as his father George H.W. Bush arrives in the hanger bay of the USS George H.W. Bush aircraft carrier off the coast of Maine.U.S. Navy / Reuters
Jan. 25, 2012. A one year old leopard is carried by zoological park officials in Lokhora area in Guwahati, Assam, India.Strdel/AFP/Getty Images
Mar. 28, 2012. A Tibetan exile is detained by police during a protest against the visit of Chinese President Hu Jintao to India, outside the hotel where Hu is staying, in New Delhi.Adnan Abidi—Reuters
Feb. 8, 2012. Police officers inspect the body of a man killed during a shooting at a crime scene in Salvador, Brazil.Felipe Dana—AP
Relatives of inmates awaiting outside the perimeter fence throw stones at soldiers and policemen on guard, who fire warning shots into the air, at the National Prison compound in Comayagua, Honduras, on February 15, 2012, where at least 272 prisioners were killed and scores injured when a fire overnight tore through the prison in central Honduras, the Central American country's prisons director said. The prison held around 850 prisoners. Orlando Sierra—AFP/Getty Images
April 22, 2012. A Pakistani police officer uses his mobile phone to take photos of the site where a Bhoja Air Boeing 737 passenger plane crashed, killing all 127 people on board, on the outskirts of Islamabad, Pakistan.Muhammed Muheisen—AP
April 5, 2012. People carry the body of men, whom activists say were killed by the Syrian government army, in Taftanaz village, east of Idlib city.Shaam News Network/Reuters
Sept. 6, 2012. Palestinians carry the body of a militant at a hospital in the Gaza Strip after he was killed allegedly trying to launch short-range rockets into Israel.Ali Jadallah—Demotix/Corbis
Aug. 24, 2012. A girl takes photos of Malta's former Prime Minister Dom Mintoff lying in state at the Presidential Palace in Valletta.Darrin Zammit Lupi—Reuters
Aug. 23, 2012. Ethiopian Orthodox take photos of the casket bearing the remains of Patriarch of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, Abune Paulos, during his funeral on at the St Selassie Orthodox church in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.Simon Maina—AFP/Getty Images
Jan. 20, 2012. Family, friends and admirers of Air Force Lt. Col. Luke Weathers, Jr., one of the original Tuskegee airmen, attend his burial ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia.Chip Somodevilla—Getty Images
Sept. 13, 2012. Russian soldiers bury the mortal remains of 33 German soldiers who were killed during World War II at the military cemetery in Halbe, Germany.Patrick Pleul—EPA
April 2, 2012. Argentinean president Cristina Fernández throws flowers in the Beagle Channel, in Ushuaia, Argentina.Leo La Valle—EPA
Sept. 11, 2012. A soldier takes a photo as members of Japan's Self-Defence Force's honour guard prepare for a ceremony for Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda at the Defense Ministry in Tokyo.Issei Kato—Reuters
May 10, 2012. A student takes a picture of a sculpture, titled "He," of the late al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden by artists Alberto Lorente, Manolo Castro and Julio Lorente, on display at the Superior Institute of Arts during the 11th Havana Biennial contemporary art exhibition in Cuba.Javier Galeano—AP
Sept. 9, 2012. One World Trade Center stands tall on the skyline of New York's Lower Manhattan as a man takes a picture from a pier in Hoboken, New Jersey.Gary Hershorn—Reuters
Nov. 17, 2012. US President Barack Obama greets Australian troops and US Marines at RAAF Base Darwin in Darwin, Northern Territory, Australia.Jim Watson—AFP/Getty Images
Sept. 17, 2012. US President Barack Obama greets supporters after speaking at a campaign event at Eden Park in Cincinnati, Ohio.Brendan Smialowski—AFP/Getty Images
Nov. 7, 2012. President Barack Obama speaks at his election night party in Chicago.M. Spencer Green—AP
Jan. 17, 2012. A security camera afixed to a light pole looks into the studio of dissident Chinese artist Ai Weiwei in Beijing.David Gray—Reuters
Nov. 11, 2012. Security cameras are attached to a pole in front of the giant portrait of former Chinese Chairman Mao Zedong in Beijing's Tiananmen Square.David Gray—Reuters
Mar. 25, 2012. Security cameras look out towards North Korea's propaganda showcase village of Gijeongdong from the South's Observation Post Ouellette in the Joint Security Area of the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) near Panmunjom on the border between North and South Korea during a visit by US President Barack Obama.Saul Loeb—AFP/Getty Images
April 15, 2012. North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un applauds during a military parade in honor of the 100th birthday of the late North Korean leader Kim Il-Sung in Pyongyang.Ed Jones—AFP/Getty Images

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