A look back at TODAY.com’s best photography and illustrations of 2021

The most memorable illustrations and photography of 2021, as chosen by the art team at TODAY.com

9/11, through the eyes of kindergartners who were there

Former students at an elementary school blocks away from the twin towers detail their memories of Sept. 11, 2001, and how it changed their lives.

Photography by Bridget Badore and Nathan Congleton

These AAPI chefs are reclaiming the narrative of what Asian cuisine means

Asian American chefs are changing the expectations around what "authentic" cuisine means — and are seizing the moment to cook their food their way.

Illustration by Ard Su

20 Latino artists to watch

We’re celebrating the styles and perspectives of artists in the Latino community.

Illustration by Katty Huertas

The huge honors Dolly Parton has politely turned down over the years

It takes guts to pass up working with Elvis, but when you're Dolly Parton, you can afford to be picky.

Illustration by Kara Birnbaum

The children who disappeared

An estimated 3 million U.S. students vanished from school during the COVID-19 pandemic — and the crisis isn’t over yet.

Illustration by Keith Negley

This tomato and watermelon salad is pure summer bliss

Jessica B. Harris combines her two favorite summer fruit — watermelon and tomato — for the ultimate summer salad.

Photography by Elizabeth Cecil

7 tips to make it easier to transition from the city to the suburbs

An exodus from places like Chicago, New York City and San Francisco means that some suburbs and rural areas are booming. And yet, many transplants will find that there's a learning curve to living in a smaller place after life in a big city.

Illustration by Jackson Joyce

What other countries offer workers that the US just doesn't

When it comes to workers’ benefits, the U.S. trails behind several leading developed nations across the globe.

Illustration by Paige Vickers

Why going green can have a positive impact on your mental health

Research suggests simple, green lifestyle changes can have a positive effect on your well-being and mental health.

Illustration by Mark Wang

TODAYs 2021 A to Z stain removal guide

From avocado to ziti with red sauce, here’s how to remove every stain from your clothing, furniture and carpets.

Illustration by Tyler Essary

Blinking back tears: NBCs Vicky Nguyen on reporting in a time of anti-Asian violence

“These emotions started coming to the surface that I didn't realize were right there.”

Photography by Nathan Congleton

How to communicate clearly when working remotely

It’s easy for conversations to be lost in digital translation. Here are some tips for communicating clearly while logging on from home.

Illustration by Kelsey Borch

Lower bars, accessible menus: This restaurant is designed for people with disabilities

Contento, a new restaurant in New York City, was designed both by and for people with disabilities.

Photography by Elias Williams

7 successful women share how they handle burnout, imposter syndrome and more

Self-care is not all about scented candles and bubble baths.

Illustration by Patricia Doria

A royal love story: Looking back at Prince William and Kate Middleton’s best moments

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge tied the knot a decade ago and have shared many big experiences since — from starting a family to traveling the world.

Illustration by Kara Birnbaum

How to make space for yourself when your partner is always around

It can be hard to find “me time” when you're with your partner all the time.

Illustration by Janice Chang

Learning to love Thanksgiving — and turkey — as an Asian American chef

It’s easier to fit in with a turkey on the table. But the taste took some getting used to.

Illustration by Jenny Chang-Rodriguez

Will we ever blow out birthday candles again? 4 rituals the pandemic changed

A doctor and an etiquette expert weigh in on how social norms — from handshakes to blowing out birthday candles — have been affected by the pandemic.

Illustration by Min Heo

Houses of healing: How Minneapolis faith leaders helped a community move forward

1 year after George Floyd’s murder, faith leaders in Minneapolis reflect on efforts to help a community move forward.

Photography by Andrea Ellen Reed

A message to anyone who struggles to stay sober during the holidays

The festive drinks and holiday happy hours are tempting — trust me, I get it. But over time, I’ve found that the temptation lessens.

Illustration by Cornelia Li

Women are even more burned out in 2021

Yes, 2021 really is worse than 2020 for women at work.

Illustration by Katty Huertas

Miss your office bestie? How to maintain friendships while working from home

There are so many benefits to having office friendships, but are we losing touch while working remotely? An expert weighs in.

Illustration by Subin Yang

Viral stars The Old Gays on their newfound fame, coming out and the next LGBTQ generation

TODAY had the opportunity to interview the social media darlings giving “The Golden Girls” a run for their money.

Photography by Jon Premosch

5 negative thoughts you're having about money and how to flip the script

Ramit Sethi, author of “I Will Teach You To Be Rich,” gives advice on how to turn negative “internal scripts” about money into positive, productive thoughts.

Illustration by Ran Zheng

Officer who survived WTC collapse reflects on 20th anniversary of 9/11

Lt. David Lim was trapped in the rubble of one of the twin towers for five hours on Sept. 11, 2001.

Photography by Julius Motal

Reckoning with my online shopping guilt

How to navigate the psychological discomfort that comes with express shipping.

Illustration by Lisk Feng

How to talk about mental health concerns with your boss

The pandemic has ushered in a new wave of mental health conversations — at home and at work.

Illustration by Rebekka Dunlap

What will life with COVID-19 be like in 2022?

We asked 10 public health experts what they expect to see in the new year.

Illustration by Andrew Ward

COVID-19 and Pregnancy: 3 families share their stories

You've read the statistics about more severe outcomes, preterm labors and maternal deaths — but you haven't heard their stories.

Photography by Alexis Hunley, Brittany Gleeson, and Nora Williams

Why is health care so expensive in the United States?

The U.S. as a nation spends more on health care than any other developed country but has worse health outcomes. How is this possible?

Illustration by Katty Huertas

What we are most looking forward to after the coronavirus pandemic

Many hope for the chance to hold loved ones. Others can’t wait to board a plane. But one theme is abundantly clear: We all long to be with the ones we care about — without any fear.

Illustration by Jenny Chang-Rodriguez