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Happy Birthday, CNN Photos!

By Lauren Russell, CNN
updated 9:30 AM EDT, Sat November 3, 2012
A photo from CNN Photos' post Woman of Glass." Photo Courtesy Ilaria Di Biagio" border="0" height="360" width="640"/>
A photo from CNN Photos' post "Woman of Glass." Photo Courtesy Ilaria Di Biagio

(CNN) -- In the past year, CNN Photos has turned the lens on not only what you want to see, but also what you need to see.

"In a world saturated by photography, our job is to wade through it all, make sense of it, and showcase the important work," said Simon Barnett, director of photography for CNN Digital.

In more than 200 posts since November 3, 2011, CNN Photos has showcased everything from pop culture to portraiture, from war to world issues -- and the stories behind them.

Steve McCurry's "Afghan girl," one of the most recognized portraits ever made, still resonates. Martin Parr's modernist documentary photography has been startling viewers for well over three decades, and Dan Winters' portraits of everyone from President Barack Obama to rapper Tupac are made with unique and iconic precision.

The photos help shed light on social injustices around the world, too. Stephanie Sinclair has spent more than a decade documenting childhood marriage in hopes of giving a voice to the issue. And while he was covering Mexico's drug war, David Rochkind saw a family so hardened to violence that one person ate spaghetti just a few feet from a murdered cousin. Jan Banning's portraits of homeless people in the United States provide an intimate look at a community many typically avoid eye contact with.

In between, Laura Noel's artistic work of discarded library books captivates as well as the work of emerging talent 17-year-old Maria Sardari.

The photos also draw the curtain back on celebrities: never-before-seen images of Lady Gaga before she was Gaga, the Rolling Stones backstage in 1972 and the late Whitney Houston as a teenager.

"These are exciting times for photography," Barnett said. "Our goal is to be the platform for challenging and provocative work that you don't see anywhere else."

So, what are some of those pieces? Here's a look at 10 editors' picks:

CNN Photos Editors' Top 10 Picks

The following blog posts from the past year are the CNN Photos editors' favorites, in no certain order:

courtesy chris buck

Celebrities pose for unseen portraits by Chris Buck

Chris Buck became a celebrity photographer because he loves popular culture and experimental, on-the-fringe artwork, he said. His talent, combined with his dry sense of humor, led him to make portraits of celebrities in which the star hides within the frame.

courtesy Alena Zhandarova

Russia's 'City of Brides' by Alena Zhandarova

So many women have come to work in Ivanovo, Russia, that it has been dubbed the "city of brides." For a year, student photographer Alena Zhandarova used social media to find women living in her hometown, the country's onetime textile capital.

courtesy Guy Calaf

Transgender life in Pakistan by Guy Calaf

Photographer Guy Calaf discovered Pakistan's transgender community, or hijras, while working on an assignment about heroin addiction in Punjab. Although he wouldn't necessarily call visiting hijras common practice, they have an established presence in South Asia.

tim hetherington/courtesy yossi milo gallery

The unique vision of Tim Hetherington by Tim Hetherington

Photojournalist Tim Hetherington lost his life in Libya last year while covering the country's civil war. His work from Liberia and Afghanistan, exhibited at the Yossi Milo Gallery in New York, focuses on the individual's perspective of experiencing war. Hetherington's joint-effort film, "Restrepo," was nominated for an Oscar.

courtesy peter dench

A decade of 'England Uncensored' by Peter Dench

British photojournalist Peter Dench has been documenting "the ordinary and the extraordinary" in England for more than a decade. A collection of his distinctive, quirky images recently published in "England Uncensored," the first book financed by the crowd-funding website

Courtesy Angelo Merendino

Cancer: 'The battle we didn't choose' by Angelo Merendino

"The minute I saw her, I knew. There she is. That's the girl I'm going to marry," photographer Angelo Merendino said of Jennifer, the woman who indeed became his bride. His photo documentary, "The Battle We Didn't Choose," follows her fight against cancer.

courtesy Logan Mock-Bunting

One deep breath: Pushing the limits of freediving by Logan Mock-Bunting

Off the coast of the Cayman Islands, Logan Mock-Bunting photographed an international freediving competition and witnessed iron-lung athletes break breath-holding records. An experienced freediver, he shot the underwater event without an air tank.

Courtesy david chancellor/institute

Tourist trophy hunters chase African wildlife by David Chancellor

The African hunting scene draws tourists from around the globe interested in chasing and killing some of the world's most dangerous game. For four years, photographer David Chancellor has traveled with some of these hunters in sub-Saharan Africa.

courtesy julia kozerski

'Half': One woman's struggle with weight loss by Julia Kozerski

When Julia Kozerski began losing weight in 2009, she started an intimate, "brutally honest" self-portrait project, "Half," documenting the process and her progress. She photographed her unclothed, changing body and found the process consoled her.

courtesy seamus murphy/vii

In Syrian hospital, 'no escape from war' by Seamus Murphy

In a war zone like Syria, photojournalist Seamus Murphy knows that a helicopter hovering over a hospital is a bad sign. The Russian-made MI8 launched two rockets into the building. Working with a fixer in Turkey, Murphy spent three days in Syria.