Editor’s picks of 2021 - photo stories


While summing up  2021 with the photos we have published throughout the year, I realized none of our photos have changed the world; we don’t have photos that show a revolution, natural disasters, packed hospitals, the moment a vaccine was invented. We did not cover such globally important issues. Instead, we have photos showing how people changed, and how their lives were affected. Our photos show us people willing to share moments from their lives. After months of being in lockdown, people allowed themselves to open their doors and open up, share their struggles, thoughts and fears they had faced alone throughout the pandemic. Our photos show how even though covid is still here, people have continued living, sharing, giving and changing. 

- Nino-Ana Samkharadze Photo Editor of Chai Khana 


 A love story, the final chapter

How do you continue living after your love is gone? Karen Khachaturov documents his grandfather’s journey after the death of his wife.
“This is the story of my grandparents, Karina and George. Together for a half of a century, they built a life of love and laughter. They created a family, raised me and my brother, and travelled the world together.”


A package of care 

We documented the lives of the elderly, asking them about how it felt to be left alone and why they feel forgotten.


"A year with no music"


Fading Ophelia

Another powerful personal story, captured by Nata Vahabova  and Durna Safarova, was the life of an elderly woman with Alzheimer's disease. We experience Ophelia’s life through the emotional photos and stories her daughter shares with us. And unlike other elderly people who felt forgotten during the pandemic, Ophelia is surrounded by the love of her family. She forgets everything she loved and starts rediscovering herself and her surroundings anew.


Breaking the cycle: Yezidi girls fight for the right to learn

We are always proud to discover people who are not afraid to change and go against community standards that prohibit them from developing and reaching their goals. 

In Yezidi families, girls are rarely encouraged to stay in school. Families prioritize work over education, and even when girls graduate from school, communities tend to shun young women who go to university. 

But two young Yezidi women, Zemfira Kalashyan and Zarine Smoyan, have proved that the future can be different. They have both paved a new path for themselves, overcoming tradition and fear of rejection to build a better life. 


My name is Ana

When we talk about strong personalities and strong women, we can’t stop thinking of Ana, who is determined to break stereotypes about disabilities and disabled people in Georgia. 

“I have struggled my whole life. I have struggled with my inner self and also with the outside world. I have a dream that I very rarely talk about. I would like to be a free, cheerful girl who does not have to fight, who does not have to defend herself against the outside world. I would like to be a girl who can do anything, not a girl with disabilities. I struggle to establish myself as a non-disabled person, but it doesn’t work. It doesn’t work because there is always at least one person who pities me.”


The bitter life of an "other"

How does it feel to fight against your true self to fulfil everyone else’s expectations? How long can one suppress the identity and gender they feel closest to? 

Sofi Mdivnishvili’s beautiful photo story tells us about the bitter life of being “othered” in society as a transgender individual. 

Chai Khana asked talented photographers from Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia to speak to women about the realities of motherhood during a pandemic—the real cost on their health, the impact on their relationships and how the experience has shaped their identities as parents.

The result was an intimate portrait of women and their unique perspectives on what it means to be a mother and how the pain, sacrifice—and unexpected joys—of the past 20 months has affected them and their children. 


We could not hide from COVID forever

Like entering the sea during bad weather

As if we were participating in a big game


Dark diaries

There are a lot of reasons why girls don’t report abuse or speak about it: some fear they will be judged, others want to avoid the pity of strangers. Many also worry they might hurt their families if they speak out about what was done to them.

Talented Lali Binyatova shines a spotlight on the reality that behind closed doors, at home—where children should feel the safest—some are abused by the very adults who are supposed to protect them. Due to shame and fear, they are often left to deal with the pain alone and the trauma of the abuse stays with them their whole lives. 


On humans and gadgets

After the lockdown, we saw how attached and dependent we became on our gadgets.  The pandemic revolutionized the role technology can play in even the most human of activitiescelebration and interaction. The world seen from the screen. 

Emin Mathers shows us how our behavior and interactions have changed throughout the years with the help of various gadgets and apps.  

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