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Rineke Dijkstra

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In its first year, TIME’s photography blog, LightBox, has published well over 500 posts—an average of ten a week. We hope that the strength of LightBox has not only been evident in the quality of the work but also in the variety of photography showcased.

The site’s intent was established from the first post, a multimedia piece about Eugene Richards’ eloquent and moving War is Personal. Original essays by TIME’s contract photographers, most notably James Nachtwey in Japan and Yuri Kozyrev in Libya, set the bar for LightBox in its first weeks—and for photojournalism in general—in an unprecedented year of extraordinary consequence.

Alongside the work of art world luminaries including Rineke Dijkstra and Cindy Sherman was an essay on poverty by Joakim Eskildsen, which continued the tradition of publishing original work, commissioned for TIME, on the site. The eclectic mix of photography published on LightBox has ranged from rediscovered buried treasures (like the work of Joseph Szabo and Stephane Sednaoui) to stories supporting the work of young photographers, through pieces on the Magnum Foundation Emergency Fund and profiles of photographers like Justin Maxon and Krisanne Johnson, as well the Next Generation photo contest. Alongside the work of professionals both young and old, there was work by amateur practitioners—an astronaut photographer, an accountant photographer of the homeless and the wonderful photographic memories of 1960s pre-Gaddafi Libya by Jehad Nga’s father. There have been the crowd-pleasing, unpublished photos of Johnny Cash and creative galleries edited from the wires, including Two Takes and Surprising Photos. And, of course, there was the daunting undertaking of 365: A Year in Photographs.

In the gallery above, some of TIME’s photo editors reflect on a year of tremendous images and recommend posts that are worth a second look. We’ll also be highlighting selections from more of the staff behind LightBox throughout the day on our Tumblr blog. We welcome suggestions from our readers as well, either in the comments below or on Twitter.

From all of us at LightBox, thanks for being a part of our beginning—and here’s to another year of great photography!

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Even before everybody had a digital camera, it was a universal modern skill to take photographs. But more than that, for a long time it’s been a universal skill to be photographed. For several decades now, everybody has known how to put on his or her game face and wait for the click. Dutch photographer Rineke Dijkstra has become famous by taking that as her point of departure, then wondering what happens when we can’t hold the pose. The answer: a moment of truth. One thing you learn at the new Dijkstra retrospective, currently at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and moving in June to the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York City, is that no matter how much you try to put on the social mask, it keeps slipping.

After graduating from an Amsterdam art school in 1986, Dijkstra, who is 52, made a living for a while shooting portraits for a Dutch business magazine. It was frustrating work, taking pictures of executives who knew all too well how to keep up their guard. Eventually, she returned to more personal picture-taking. Very quickly, Dijkstra found an international audience. For her breakthrough project in the early ’90s, she persuaded teenagers at beaches in the U.S. and Europe to pose against a bare backdrop of sky, sea and shore. The fascination of those pictures comes partly from the mind’s attempt to reconcile the “timeless” setting with the sometimes awkward, and often futile, attempts by the teens to assume the attitudes of glamor and cool they think the camera requires.

Hoping to catch people with their defenses down, Dijkstra started to photograph them in the aftermath of some exhausting event. She got women to pose soon after giving birth, usually standing naked while they cradled their newborns. By 1994 she was also making portraits of Portuguese forcados—amateur bullfighters who enter the ring in unarmed groups to subdue the bulls bare-handed. She photographed them right after they returned from the fight, bloody, scuffed and dented.

To watch someone evolve from youth into adult awareness, Dijkstra has sometimes followed a single subject for years—a French boy who joins the foreign legion, a Bosnian refugee girl as she grows up in the Netherlands—as his or her life goes through changes. Or, as she did with the kids on beaches, she will go to parks and photograph very contemporary people in a setting that pulls them out of time—but only so far. And to make sure her pictures don’t take on a false timelessness, Dijkstra makes sure each one carries in its title the very real location in which it was taken and the date.

Rineke Dijkstra: A Retrospective is on display from Feb. 18 through May 28 at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and will open at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York City on June 29.

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