The Best of Your 2012 Cell Phone Pictures

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Our year-end photo project asked you to submit your best cell phone shots of the year. We got hundreds of submissions, and now New York Times senior staff photographer and Lens blog co-editor James Estrin picks his favorites. See Jim's favorites below, and be sure to check out all the submissions here.

Kissam Avenue, Staten Island. This is all that is left of a house after 'Sandy'. When the storm hit, 14 feet of water took all the houses on Kissam Drive off their foundations. I took this 3 days after 'Sandy' and though a scene of terrible destruction, I see this stairway as a small symbol of hope.

( Giles Clarke )

This photo was taken on December 21, 2012 in Seaside Heights, NJ. The beach was still so destroyed from Hurricane Sandy that it looked like I would imagine the "end of the world" would look like. It was an erie place to be on the day everyone was claiming would be the start of the apocalypse.

New York Times photo editor Jim Estrin writes: Nice content, composition, and clouds, This would be a much better photo without the yellow tint.

( Rob Kelly )

I took this picture while volunteering with Doctors Without Borders in Rockaway. We entered a volunteer-run relief center that was housed in a community center attached to Saint Francis De Sales church. This was their massive and well-organized supply room.

New York Times photo editor Jim Estrin writes: A very good use of the wide view stitching option.


( William Laviano )

taken outside Jamica center train station while woman rides the esclator up strange creatures wait to pounce.

New York Times photo editor Jim Estrin writes: The only animal photo that I chose. I believe this was on Alfred Hitchcock's phone 

( Russell O'Mara )

I took this photo at Duck Harbor Beach in Wellfleet, MA July, 2012.

I was a therapeutic foster parent for this traumatized 11 year old child. She was in 10 schools in ten years and abused her whole life.

I live in New York but took her to Cape Cod for 5 days when she first came to live with me.

This was the day we arrived. We went to see the bay, the tide was out and it was late. She took her shovels, ran down to the water, stopped and stared in wonder. I stood behind her in awe. She was embraced by the universe.

I love this picture because so many children are abused and traumatized in our society and they are in our universe. We must acknowledge our troubled children and give them help.

( maura staker )

I'm an archaeologist and I've been working on a project in the California desert since June. I took this photo w my iPhone 5 on day after a bit of rain. I captured the image because it struck me as funny. Legend has it that if one follows a rainbow to it's end and start digging one will find a Leprechaun's pot of gold. Well...perhaps someone rewrite this mythical narrative in consideration of all possible "pots of gold." Port-a-potty gold isn't quite a lucky find.

New York Times photo editor Jim Estrin writes: I had passed by many rainbow photos because they are almost always predictable, but this potty at the end of the rainbow made me laugh.

( michael taylor )

I know it's a kid but its not my kid. I flew back to San Antonio in November and my sister and I went directly to a grocery store upon my arrival. Outside stood this little boy with his mother dutifully standing next to him. I thought it was shocking and I asked the mother if I could take a photograph. She gave me permission and I quickly took the shot. His eyes say it all. The shame in this poor little guys face is too much for a guy his age. I'm pretty sure he'll never steal again though.

( Francisco Graciano )

Taken at MSKCC during one of my daughter's chemo sessions.

Once we received the diagnosis (DIPG - pediatric brain tumor with 0% survival rate) we took as many pictures as possible...mostly with our phones.

I like that it reminds me of our daughter's insistence that she wear a bathing suit to her treatments. It also reminds of the painful journey, one that families embark upon every day.  Our daughter died.  All we have left are pictures.

( Amy Stein )

This photo stars Drag Performance Artist Sequinette (left) and myself - World Famous *BOB* (right).  This past summer in the Coney Island Sideshow backstage area.  I produce a drag show every summer at the Burlesque at The Beach performance series which is one of many events made possible by Coney Island USA - the non profit that brings us all the Mermaid Parade every year!   The dressing room was destroyed by Hurricane Sandy and I like to focus on all of the magical performances that I have been a part of there.  We are, like everyone else rebuilding and look forward to another great summer.

( World Famous *BOB* )

Looking uptown from the darkness of downtown during the first night of the post-Sandy blackout.

New York Times photo editor Jim Estrin writes: Reminds me of an Alfred Steiglitz photo.

( Clay Enos )

Yosemite National Park

New York Times photo editor Jim Estrin writes: The photo of Yosemite that Ansel Adams would have made if he had the fortune to have an iphone

( Clay Enos )

Lines at a gas station on Friday Nov. 7th. I took this while walking from Red Hook (where I live) to Crown Heights (where a friend who had a car with gas lived) on my way out of the city for the North American Drama Therapist Association's annual conference on trauma. Only way I was able to get out of the city. The walk took me through Brooklyn and made me see the neighborhoods in a new light.

( Danielle Levanas )

Taken on the Court Sq bound platform at the Fulton St G stop. (Full disclosure, in case it isn't obvious: it's been Instagrammed.)

I took it because I like that accidental crease -- like the storm, it reorients the landscape of the icon in ways Milton Glaser could never have imagined but which he created the canvas for. It's so suggestive -- if the heart is what it looks like and the black spot is ground zero, what's the thin white line?

New York Times photo editor Jim Estrin writes: A beautiful detail.

( Lauren )

I love to photograph reflections. Back in March, I was riding north on the A train when I noticed this amazing graffiti scrawled on the tunnel wall. It read "Fed up with working too much <3 CW." It worked perfectly with the reflection of the subway car. I managed to snap the pic within seconds of moving on. It seems to  capture the ethos of both the subway and the occupy wall street movement.

New York Times photo editor Jim Estrin writes: A window reflection can be a photographer's best friend.

( Maureen Clements )
Rocco S. Cetera
Rocco S. Cetera

Photo by Rocco S. CeteraTudor City, New York City, May 31, 2012 8:10 PM

I always wanted to see Manhattanhenge. I had always heard of it. I went to the overpass on 42nd Street, all the way on the east side of Manhattan in Tudor City. 

I had to come back a few times. The first time, just as the sun was in alignment, a cloud in NJ blocked the view. However, I came back the next day and the sun shined through!

I took many photos with my DSLR, but I love the way my IPhone flared the rays of the sun.

New York Times photo editor Jim Estrin writes: Uncontrolled Lens flare from the "Manhattanhenge" sunset worked for this photographer.

Photo taken on a boat in Southeast Alaska sailing towards Tracy Arm. I woke that morning, looked out of my cabin window and found us sailing through what felt like a sea of clouds. I love New York, but Alaska is without a doubt one of the most stunning places I have ever experienced.

( Sarah Wagner )