With this year’s 40 photo contest winners appearing here and throughout the magazine, senior art director Scott Hilling curated the images to take the reader through a visual narration of the ups and downs many in the industry experienced in 2021.

“Many of us started the year off stuck at home, facing dreary times and tough roads,” Hilling says. “We faced isolation, with difficult and rough environments to navigate our way through. At times it felt like we had the weight of the world on our shoulders. So many unknowns left us overwhelmed. Figurative and literal walls were erected to protect ourselves, and sometimes we were left just staring at them."

But, the art director points out, "as we struggled, people started to come together to help each other out. Gray skies lifted. Life felt a bit more normal. People were back together, supporting each other. Beautiful work carried on, and while things still can get dark again, we know how to persevere."

Says Hilling: "At the end of the day, we can stand there knowing we can get through anything.”