Getty photographer unveils biggest moments of 2023

As 2023 comes to an end, some of the year’s most defining moments have been remembered through powerful photographs.

From record-breaking events such as cinematic blockbusters, the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup and the coronation of King Charles, to incredible hardships including devastating natural disasters and international conflicts — it has certainly been a year many people will not soon forget.

And award-winning Getty Images chief photographer Cameron Spencer and his team were on the ground capturing it all on camera.

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“With 2024 on the horizon, it’s time to look back at the moments that inspired and changed us in a year unlike any other,” Spencer told

“From royal coronations, civil unrest and natural disasters, to sporting events that united the world and iconic red carpet and entertainment moments, photographers have been there to capture every story, bringing unique perspectives into focus.”

Capturing key Matilda moments

This year will surely go down in history as when Australia truly fell in love with its national women’s football team, the Matildas.

The 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup, hosted by Australia and New Zealand, quickly became the nation’s most-watched event of the year — Seven’s coverage of the Matildas’ semi final against England drew an incredible average audience of 7.13 million.

Australian players celebrate as France miss their fifth shot for goal in the penalty shootout during the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023 quarter-final. Credit: Quinn Rooney/Getty Images

“I would be remiss to not acknowledge this iconic image from Getty photographer Quinn Rooney, who so perfectly captured (the team’s reaction) when the Matildas beat France in a penalty shootout,” Spencer said.

“It takes a thousand shots to capture the perfect image,” Spencer added, noting photographers need to take into account “field position, lens choice and composition” all while anticipating “a precise moment of sheer jubilation”.

Such images are “a testament to a skilled photographer’s creativity and consistent quality,” he said.

“It’s more than luck. As they say, it’s when preparation meets opportunity.

“This photograph — encapsulating the team’s passion on the field as Matilda celebrations reverberated throughout the world — was truly a historic moment in Australian sporting history.”

The photo, taken during the quarter-final, stands in stark contrast to an image of captain Sam Kerr following the team’s semi-final loss to England.

Matilda captain Sam Kerr looks dejected after the team’s 1-3 loss in the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023 semi final. Credit: Maddie Meyer/FIFA via Getty Images

Navigating disasters

One of the tougher aspects of being a senior news photographer, Spencer says, is documenting the very raw and real moments of incredible hardships.

In the early hours of February 6, a 7.8-magnitude earthquake hit near Gaziantep, Turkey — followed by a second, 7.5-magnitude tremor just after midday.

The quakes caused widespread destruction in southern Turkey and northern Syria, killing more than 40,000 people.

A woman walks on a street amid destroyed buildings on February 17, 2023 in Hatay, Turkey. Credit: Chris McGrath/Getty Images

“This picture stands out to me as there’s a lot of responsibility that comes with capturing world events as they are,” Spencer said.

“As professional photojournalists, we are committed to documenting history and offer a trusted voice to those who are living through the consequences of these events first-hand.

“In an era of deep fakes and doctored smartphone images, our photographers are tasked with capturing honest photos and videos, which can be both logistically and emotionally challenging.”

Gunshots and blood stains on a door and walls of a house in an Israeli kibbutz ,where civilians were killed days earlier in an attack by Hamas militants. Credit: Alexi J. Rosenfeld/Getty Images
Palestinian citizens evacuate their homes which were damaged by Israeli airstrikes on October 10, 2023 in Gaza. Credit: Ahmad Hasaballah/Getty Images

Similar challenges for photographers arose on October 7, when the Palestinian militant group Hamas launched a surprise attack on Israel from Gaza — killing more than 700 people, wounding more than 2000 and taking others, including soldiers and civilians, hostage in Gaza.

The attack prompted Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to declare war, launching retaliatory strikes on Gaza which have continued for more than two months — despite several days of ceasefire and the exchange of some hostages and prisoners — with a death toll now surpassing 2000 and international aid groups struggling to deal with a large-scale humanitarian crisis.

The sun sets over military graves on March 15, 2023 in Kharkiv, Ukraine. Credit: Paula Bronstein/Getty Images

It was by no means the only major international conflict this year, as the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which began in February 2022, spilled into a second year — with no sign yet of any resolution to a war which has been ongoing since 2014.

Capturing top moments in entertainment

The year also brought with it decade-defining new entertainment, including record-breaking films.

Barbie-mania truly took over as star Margot Robbie and director Greta Gerwig attended Barbie movie premieres across the world.

Margot Robbie and Greta Gerwig attend the Barbie European premiere at Cineworld Leicester Square on July 12, 2023 in London, England. Credit: Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images

“Even as Barbie turned the world pink in 2023, this photographer leaned into nostalgia by opting for black and white to give this Barbie premiere photo a timeless and nostalgic feel, rather than use colour which might have washed out certain elements of the image,” Spencer said.

“Skilled photographers are able to control light to help bring certain aspects of the image to life, making them stand out far better than general smartphone imagery.”

Kylie Minogue celebrates the eve of WorldPride with her award-winning rosé at the world-famous Bondi Icebergs pool in Sydney, Australia. Credit: Mark Metcalfe/WireImage for Kylie Minogue Wine
A model walks the runway for the Yousef Akbar show during Afterpay Australian Fashion Week 2023 at Carriageworks, Sydney, on May 15. Credit: Mark Nolan/Getty Images for AAFW

But there was also plenty of colour. Sydney turned rainbow-coloured as the city hosted numerous WorldPride 2023 events.

And on the eve of WorldPride, on February 22, singer Kylie Minogue was pictured celebrating her award-winning rosé at the world-famous Bondi Icebergs Pool in Sydney.

And of course, the catwalks of Afterpay Australian Fashion Week 2023 were awash with an array of colour and styles.

The King and Queen’s coronation

In May, a new global era began as King Charles III and Queen Camilla were pictured waving from the balcony of Buckingham Palace after their coronation in London.

Tens of thousands of people of all ages, from the UK and around the world, gathered at the palace to catch a glimpse of the newly crowned royals, following the death of the long-reigning Elizabeth almost eight months earlier.

King Charles III and Queen Camilla wave from the balcony of Buckingham Palace after their coronation on May 06, 2023 in London, England. Credit: Chris Jackson/Getty Images

“Another key defining moment of 2023 was King Charles’ coronation, captured from the King and Queen’s perspective as they look out over the crowds,” Spencer said.

“I like this photo because it showcases just how vital trust is during the photography process.

“For Getty Images royal photographer Chris Jackson to be granted this kind of first-hand exclusive access on such a big occasion underscores the responsibility that one must have to capture and share unique perspectives so well.”

Spencer said the image “would have taken planning, a vision, and permission to execute in such a brilliant way”.

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