Life Reflected: Connecting the world through photography

Life reflected with a collage of photographs from around the world.

A few months ago, when an Adobe survey revealed that the photos people saw in the news and online had done more to divide than connect us, we set out to remind people how alike we are through photography. We launched Life Reflected, a Lightroom photo collaboration that captured everyday life through the eyes of photographers around the world. Our hope was that in these submissions we would find the common threads of our shared humanity that connected us no matter where or who we are.

And that’s exactly what happened. After putting out the call to action to our global photography community with New York Times photographer Andre D. Wagner, alongside Valheria Rocha, Laylah Amatullah Barrayn, and James Anthony, we received over 2,000 photos from more than 50 countries. From the U.S. to the U.K., from Japan to Guinea-Bissau, we saw an incredible demonstration of our shared human experience. People submitted photos that celebrated love, childhood, joy, inspiration, home, adventure, culture, friendship, change, growth, and unexpected moments. Together they revealed the unmistakable universality of human experiences, regardless of where we’re from or what we believe.

In curating this album, we were truly able to reflect, to connect, and in the process, learned so much about ourselves and each other. We analyzed a significant sample of the photos to identify themes that we saw across the photos as a whole, as well as across the individual prompts that inspired them. Here’s what we learned…

Black and white photo of woman holding her fist in the air.

Photo credit: Tonya Lynch: @iamtjlynch.

We found that our inspiration and growth come from the people around us every day — and notably, from the women in our lives. Women represented the single largest share of subject matter for both #InspirationReflected (37 percent) and #GrowthReflected (52 percent).

Kids throwing a kickball outside a building.

Photo credit: Noah Bealand: @nhblnd.

Despite headlines about technology overtaking kids’ lives, more than two-thirds of the photos showed kids playing with no tech in sight.

Man on a three wheeled bike smiling into the sky.

Photo credit: Sophia Huda: @sophuda.

The outdoors was a place of respite, especially during lockdown, with 88 percent of photos reflecting joy set outside.

Dog looking over the edge of a canyon in the desert.

Photo credit: Brenda Myers: @bren_65.

People saw home in the loved ones they share life with, not in the walls that surround them. And 68 percent of our photos of home went beyond the walls literally, and showed us home in nature.

Two children smiling with their arms around eachother.

Photo credit: Sean Josahi Brown: @seanjosahibrown.

We feel love and joy through our connection with others. Of the photos tagged with joy, 45 percent focused on another person.

Couple wearing red clothing holding eachother.

Photo credit: Cameron Clarke: @_tripzy.

Physical touch proved to be the universal language in expressing love, kindness, and joy, after a socially-distanced year forced everyone apart. Images reflecting love had the highest rate of personal interaction, appearing in 33 percent.

Older women being licked in the face by a dog.

Photo credit: Brenda Myers: @bren_65.

More than 20 percent of photos captured candid moments, giving us a first-hand look into unplanned moments of everyday life.

Two girls dressed in costume.

Photo credit: Callie Bri Keels: @calliebri.

Roughly 40 percent of images reflecting culture stemmed from outside of the U.S. Photos captured neighborhoods, monuments, and the people that shape our beliefs and traditions.

Photograph of scubadiver under the ocean swiming up towards a ray of sunshine.

Photo credit: Victor De Valles Ibañez: @victordevalles.

Adventure was a solitary pursuit for 36 percent of people, giving us a fresh perspective on the world.

Three men standing and sitting surrounded by colorful crates.

Photo credit: Shubham Pawar: @cover_frames.

Above all else, our desire and appreciation for human connection was clear: 52 percent of all photo subjects were people, demonstrating our importance to one another, and 89 percent of the photos showing emotion reflected moments of joy, love, and kindness.

A year reflected

Life Reflected challenged us to believe in our common humanity. Together, photographers from every corner of the globe showed us how they see the world, and in doing so, hopefully brought us closer together.

To see the full Life Reflected photo highlights album, visit our digital gallery on Adobe Discover.