Featured photographers include Martin Schoeller, Mitch Dobrowner, Lynn Johnson, Aaron Huey (2),Stephanie Sinclair, Karla Gachet and Ivan Kashinsky, Paolo Pellegrin, Paul Nicklen, Michael “Nick” Nichols
Emperor penguins can bolt away for any number of reasons, as photographer Paul Nicklen discovered when he spooked this group. "A tenth of a second after I took this picture, all I could see were bubbles."
Six-year-old Johanna Gill puts a protective hand on her sister, Eva. The twins both have mild autism, a disorder linked to genetic inheritance.
A dying tornado like this one is said to be in the "roping out" phase.
Watch Editor in Chief Chris Johns discuss his picks in a video from the December digital edition of National Geographic.
Aidyng Kyrgys caresses his newborn baby girl, whom he refers to using a Tuvan term of endearment: anayim, or "my little goat." There are only 235,000 Tuvan speakers in Russia
Stanley Good Voice Elk, a heyoka on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota, burns sage to ritually purify his surroundings. In Oglala spirituality, heyokas are recipients of sacred visions who employ clownish speech and behavior to provoke spiritual awareness and "keep balance," says Good Voice Elk. Through his mask, he channels the power of an inherited spirit, which transforms him into Spider Respects Nothing.
A passenger barely has room for the journey home as a car is loaded with used clothing donated by a Colorado-based Native American charity. Contrary to popular myth, Native Americans do not automatically receive a monthly federal check and are not exempt from taxes. The Oglala Lakota and other Sioux tribes have refused a monetary settlement for the U.S.'s illegal seizure of the Black Hills, their spiritual home.
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