In a photograph by Sara Hylton, a confident woman stands in profile for a portrait. Wearing a patterned shirtdress and gleaming brass jewelry, she exudes style. What is not immediately apparent is that the picture was shot in South Sudan, a young, war-torn country where even carrying a camera in public is dangerous.
In this moment, though, the conflict is quiet; commanding the frame is Akuja de Garang’s self-possession, her unbroken spirit. What you see and what surrounds the subject are two seemingly contradictory stories, raising the question of how content and context inform each other.
Over the past year, for The Look, I have assigned 21 photographers around the globe, including Andre Wagner, who navigated the streets of New York, capturing moments that celebrate race and community; Rose Marie Cromwell, who documented Latino culture in Cuba, Colombia and Panama; and An Rong Xu, who explored the hip-hop style of B-boys in South Korea.
The column features a rich perspective that examines style, identity and culture.
In the photo essay by Ms. Hylton, style tells a larger story about pride in South Sudan. Self-expression acts as a way to maintain a sense of normalcy in a place where there is constant conflict. The column will continue to uncover a diverse range of stories that are amplified, or hidden, by the way people present themselves in the world. Here are highlights from The Look in 2017.
How to take on winter in New York.
Couples getting married in irreverent, wild, untraditional — and sometimes very traditional — ways at the New York City Clerk’s Office.
On the Mexican side of the border wall, a couple posed for their wedding photos in Tijuana.
In Havana, Cuba, some people go to lengths such as making their own clothes, having relatives bring pieces from abroad or scouring local vintage spots in order to shape their personal style.
Headscarves and robes stand alongside street wear and dapper suits in Istanbul.
On Avenida Central in Panama City, you can find everything you need — even a haircut on the side of the road — for a good price.
Capturing the colorful style of Punjab, India.
Exploring classic Americana in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Found moments of community in Brooklyn, New York.
The vivid world of Miami street style.
Tompkins Square Park, in the East Village of Manhattan, is an ever-renewing site of youth culture.
Is fall dead? Daniel Arnold’s photographs showcase the season’s identity crisis.
Seoul’s bumping B-boy scene shows another side of a city better known for K-pop.
Monrovia’s “hipco” clubs showcase a stylish music scene unencumbered by the country’s past.
In Southern California, Morrissey fans showed their devotion in their element.
In Cali, Colombia’s salsa capital, dancing can start as early as the afternoon, and the energy never lets up.
Diverse headwear on the streets of New York City.
Youth in San Diego: skateboards, beach hangs and Chicano culture.
In the SoHo neighborhood of Manhattan, lines of “new geeks” form early and last long for the newest limited-edition product “drops.”
A mix of tradition and trend in Kabul, Afghanistan.
Contemporary and traditional style in Dakar, Senegal.
An ode to acts of kindness on the New York City subway.
Long gone are the days of party-issued uniforms and uninspired Soviet style in Russia.
The faces of New York City’s Pride parade.
At the pride parade in Tijuana, Mexico.
Sunday best in Harlem and Brooklyn.