2021 in Pictures: Challenge and Beauty in Unique Times

News subtitle

The Dartmouth News photography team presents their best shots of the year.


The challenges of the ongoing pandemic are far from over, yet during the past 12 months Dartmouth students, faculty, and staff have worked hard to create an environment of active engagement and learning in a year unlike any other. There have been students on campus throughout the year, and this fall saw the most students on campus in Dartmouth’s history.

College Photographer Eli Burakian ’00, Multimedia Manager Robert Gill, and Office of Communications intern Julia Levine ’23 were on campus, too, to capture this unique time. While the landscape of social interaction has changed throughout the year, the beauty of Dartmouth’s location in the heart of New England continues to shine, reminding us to think beyond these difficult times as the seasons change and the world keeps turning. That’s not too difficult to do when immersed in a community of thoughtful, enthusiastic, and adventurous people.

Below is a selection of images, chosen by Burakian and Gill as some of their favorites, with their thoughts about each photo. These images remind us that even during hard times, amazing things can happen here at Dartmouth.


Person welding an outdoor railing
As I walk around campus, I get to see not only the students and faculty, but also the employees who keep Dartmouth running. On this day in January, even while the institution was operating at a lower capacity, I caught a staff member who called himself “Jimmy the welder” fixing the railings leading to Carpenter Hall. (Photo by Eli Burakian ’00)
Three people ice skating in front of Baker-Berry library
The ice rinks on the Green were charming. I was glad to see so many people enjoying the rinks. I hope it becomes a Dartmouth winter tradition. (Photo by Robert Gill)
Five people nordic skiing in front of Baker-Berry library in a snowstorm
This is one of those moments that I happened upon. It looks like it was set up, but it wasn’t. A lot of my job is just being ready for random beautiful moments like this. (Photo by Robert Gill)
Two people warming their hands around a firepit
The Outdoor Programs Office did a great job of providing a lot of outdoor opportunities during the pandemic. These fireplaces were all over campus, offering places for students to hang out and stay warm. (Photo by Robert Gill)
Person snow tubing down a hill
The sledding hill at the Dartmouth Cross Country Ski Center is epic! This photo of Ella Marden ’23 getting air is an accurate depiction of just how much fun a snow day can be. (Photo by Robert Gill)
Woman playing the violin
Is there anything more beautiful than the shape of a violin? The return of in-person rehearsals was very exciting. I didn’t realize how much I missed live music until I attended this rehearsal of the Dartmouth Symphony Orchestra. (Photo by Robert Gill)
Person giving a tour of art with sculptures framing them
In March, the Hood Museum of Art opened to small, guided tours. I feel privileged to be working in a place with an amazing museum and I’m always blown away by the art. Here Jamie Powell, curator of Indigenous art, leads a “tiny tour” for some lucky Dartmouth students. (Photo by Eli Burakian ’00)
Two runners passing Wilder Hall
The colors of the tree buds in spring can rival those of the fall; in early spring, with the right light, they seem to glow. The runners in this image add some action to a serene scene in front of Wilder Hall. (Photo by Eli Burakian ’00)
People planting in a greenhouse
There is always something to be done during the growing season at the Organic Farm. This bountiful project is made possible by many student workers and volunteers who routinely dig their way into helping our community. (Photo by Robert Gill)
Person sitting in a chair with a laptop and their exact reflection in the window
Executive Director of Conferences and Events E.J. Kiefer worked tirelessly leading up to the 2021 commencement, this year held in Memorial Stadium. (Photo by Robert Gill)
Person in white water kayaking smiling with a thumbs-up
When indoor activities had to be curtailed, the summer provided a great opportunity for students to participate in outdoor activities. In July, I headed to Hartland, Vt., to photograph students kayaking on a section of Connecticut River rapids. I couldn’t find a great angle to shoot the rapids (pun intended), but luckily Lidia Balanovich ’22 pulled up in front of me and I was able to capture a moment of goofy joy. (Photo by Eli Burakian ’00)
People doing yoga outside of Baker-Berry library
The Student Wellness Center has free weekly yoga classes. This group on Baker Lawn was so inviting that I had to join in. (Photo by Robert Gill)
A woman applying makeup in front of a vanity
“Umma,” a theater production written by Stella Asa ’22, was performed in August, with Esther Oluokun ’20, shown here, playing the title role. I continue to be amazed by the quality of student-written shows and performances. (Photo by Robert Gill)
A person reading a script under black lights
Rothschild Toussaint ’23, backstage during a performance of “Umma.” (Photo by Robert Gill)
A man riding a bicycle with a dog in his backpack
Some students carry books in their packs, others carry dogs. Here Jordan Fields, a Guarini graduate student in earth sciences, rides past the library with his dog, Wendell. (Photo by Eli Burakian ’00)
Class of 2025 gathered in front of Baker-Berry library
The construction in front of Dartmouth Hall meant that we needed to move the first-year class photo to the front of Baker-Berry Library. Standing on the top rung of a 14-foot ladder with a camera in one hand and a megaphone in the other, I was able to get just high enough to see all the faces of the Class of 2025. It brought joy to my heart to see this whole new cohort of students on campus. (Photo by Eli Burakian ’00)
People circled around President Hanlon at his desk
Having postponed the matriculation ceremony last year for the Class of ’24 due to COVID-19, this fall President Philip J. Hanlon ’77 did double duty, hosting two classes of students in his office in small groups and individually to welcome the members of the classes of 2024 and 2025. His ability to engage with each group and his desire to create connections with the students was impressive. (Photo by Eli Burakian ’00)
Baker tower framed by fall trees
The fall of 2021 was one of the most underwhelming foliage years in recent memory, but there were a few trees that were gorgeous, such as this maple next to Rollins Chapel. I was able to get a nice composition of Baker Tower and the tree by standing on the driveway behind Wilder Hall—a classic fall Dartmouth shot. (Photo by Eli Burakian ’00)
Wooden panels and beams engraved with letters and words
Bartlett Tower on top of College Hill is usually locked up tight. But occasionally the Dartmouth Outing Club sets a rope at the top for climbers. On one of those days, I was able to get a look inside the tower to see the countless carvings by a century of Dartmouth students. (Photo by Eli Burakian ’00)
Baker tower at night, surrounded by fire sparks
The fall of 2021 saw the return of the homecoming bonfire. As College photographer for more than a decade, I’m always looking for new angles on this old tradition. Putting my focus on Baker Tower and using a fast shutter speed, I was lucky to create an image that made the embers appear as glowing balls of light hovering in the sky in front of the tower. (Photo by Eli Burakian ’00)
Baker tower covered by mist and framed by orange leaves
The foliage this year seemed to be on a very random schedule. Some trees kicked off early and were bare early while others were still as green as could be until nearly December. On this day, unseasonably warm fall temperatures provided a lot of beautiful morning fog. (Photo by Robert Gill)
A Dartmouth field hockey player taking the ball down the field
Although I don’t often get the opportunity to photograph athletics, I really enjoy doing it. This fall saw the return of a number of intercollegiate sports. During homecoming weekend, I dropped by a field hockey match and did my best to capture some of the action. (Photo by Eli Burakian ’00)
Two people walking down a sidewalk surrounded by colored leaves
The ivy growing on Wilder Hall turns a beautiful red in fall, and I was happy to capture this photo of students walking by the building on a crisp autumn day. By putting the sun in a small slot between the leaves and stopping my aperture down, I was able to bring in a nice sun star as well. (Photo by Eli Burakian ’00)
Dartmouth campus seen by drone in fall
One mantra I have for photography is “let the light be your guide.” On many evenings this fall, I was on the Green with our drone, waiting for these late-day lighting conditions to make the fall colors pop. (Photo by Robert Gill)
five dancers leaping
Julia Levine ’23 is one of our Office of Communications photography interns. Here she captured a colorful moment of the action during the student dance showcase in Spaulding Auditorium as members of Sugar Plum leaped in the air. (Photo by Julia Levine ’23)
an aerial view of campus with fresh snow
When people envision Hanover in winter, they often think of a snow-covered wonderland. Just last week we had a day where the sun was out, the snow was still on most of the buildings and trees, and there was no wind. I was able to get some dreamy aerials of campus, including this perspective with College Hill in the foreground. Less than 10 minutes later, the snow was gone from the trees and buildings as the wind came roaring through. (Photo by Eli Burakian ’00)