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Photograph by Marco Grob for TIME

Behind TIME’s portrait of the Dalai Lama. See more here

Pictured: Scott Newkirk installation (partial), 2011 by Dietmar Busse

It’s rare to encounter a body of work as wholly original as Dietmar Busse’s extraordinary series, Fauna and Flora. An amalgamation of photography and painting, the pieces in the series manifest a beauty that occasionally veers into dark, dreamlike realms. See more on LightBox.

TIME presents the top 10 photographs of the year — the images that moved us most in 2012, along with the backstories from the photographers who shot the now iconic frames.

RJ Sangosti. Denver, Colo. July 27, 2012:
I, like most of my community, was still trying to make sense of why a gunman would walk into a crowded Aurora movie theater and fire randomly. Twelve people were killed and 58 wounded. It was hard for me to imagine a crime of this magnitude in a movie theater — a place that I myself go to escape life for a moment. One of the lives lost that night was of Jonathan Blunk, a five-year U.S. Navy veteran, who left behind a wife and two children. In this photograph, Chantel Blunk, Jonathan’s wife, paused on the tarmac at Denver International Airport before boarding the same plane as her husband’s body. The plane was bound for their home in Reno, Nev., where a full military funeral would take place. As this was occurring, a faint rainbow appeared over the hearse.

In a moment of sorrow, a glimpse of Chantel’s innocence and youth appeared despite the overwhelming process of military tradition and personal chaos she was trapped in.”

Nov. 28, 2012. Cairo, Egypt. A protester finds cover behind a destroyed vehicle at the scene of clashes with Egyptian police near Tahrir Square. (Photo: Moises Saman—Magnum for TIME)

Throughout 2012, TIME’s unparalleled photojournalists were there. At a time when so much hangs in the balance, bearing witness can be the most essential act — and that’s what we do. Here’s the best of our commissioned photojournalism from 2012. See more on LightBox.

Hello Tumblr, please give a warm welcome to Lisa Kereszi. She is currently using Kickstarter to fund her personal narrative photobook, Joe’s Junk Yard. Kereszi’s project is highlighted on our curated Kickstarter page — today she will be sharing images from her project, stay tuned!

We’re thrilled to announce that yesterday we launched our very own curated Kickstarter page. This page will serve as an additional outlet to showcase new and inspiring photography projects selected by TIME’s editors.

We’re happy to be here. We hope you find some new projects that you’ll love. (and don’t forget to check back often for new projects…) Visit our page here.

In case you were wondering, this is Gregory Crewdson’s band"Let Me Take Your Foto"? Pretty appropriate, huh?

Danny Lyon’s poignant, sharply observed film is one of the great cinema-verite documentaries. Watchmaker and the Menil Archives have restored the film from the original negative and re-mixed the soundtrack from the original 1/4” tapes. The result is the return of a beautiful film by one of America’s leading photographers. Available on-line and on Blu-ray and DVD Summer 2012.

See Lyon’s work on LightBox here.

Untitled (Judith # 2), 2002. Pigment print on Harman by Hahnemuhle Gloss Baryta paper 60 x 50 cm. © Jocelyn Lee, Courtesy Flatland Gallery, Utrecht-Paris and Pace/MacGill Gallery, New York

Photographer Jocelyn Lee, who recently photographed Bill McKibben for TIME, has a solo show opening tomorrow at Flatland Gallery in Utrecht, The Netherlands.

Read about it here on Flatland’s website.

Marco Grob for TIME

Finding essence in a single image is a challenge, yet somehow our photographers manage to do it again and again. This year was no exception as portraits of celebrities, political powerhouses and survivors filled our pages. See more here.

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