Photography by Reuters

March 5, 2013. A mouse climbs onto the back of a snake as it bites another mouse during the snake’s feeding time at a zoo in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province. The mouse failed to stop the snake and was swallowed by another snake soon after, local media reported.

TIME Picks the Most Surprising Photos of 2013, a look back at a selection of underreported, improbable and astounding images that caught the attention of TIME’s photo editors.

Photograph by Taslima Akhter

Savar Dhaka, Bangladesh. April 24, 2013.

"Around 2 AM among the many dead bodies inside the collapse, I found a couple at the back of the building, embracing each other in the rubble. The lower parts of their bodies were stuck under the concrete. A drop of blood from the man’s eye ran like a tear. Since then, this couple remains firmly in my heart. So many questions rose in my mind. What were they thinking at the last moment of their lives?"

TIME Picks the Top 10 Photos of 2013

Photograph by John Tlumacki—The Boston Globe/Getty Images

Boston, Mass., USA. April 15, 2013.

"The first bomb went off on the Boylston Street sidewalk less than 45 feet from me. The percussion from the blast jolted me. I saw runner Bill Iffrig from Lake Stevens, Wash., fall to the pavement. I ran forward to photograph him. Three Boston Police officers bolted towards him at the same time, one with her gun drawn, as the second bomb exploded three blocks away. I had not seen the officer’s gun until I edited the photos. I didn’t understand at first what had happened, thinking maybe it was a cannon salute or a manhole explosion. But when I ran to the sidewalk area several feet away, I saw the horror of what the bomb did. I then began to comprehend what I was photographing. I tried not to take my eye off the camera. Smoke was thick. A police officer looked me in the eyes and said, “You shouldn’t be here. Another bomb could go off.” Bodies were still smoldering, legs were blown off, and massive amounts of blood covered the sidewalk."

TIME Picks the Top 10 Photos of 2013

Photograph by Olivier Voisin (1974 - 2013)—Demotix/Corbis

Twenty-five journalists have died in Syria alone since the inception of the conflict in March 2011. Freelance photojournalist Olivier Voisin died of shrapnel wounds near the city of Idlib while covering the conflict earlier this year. In an email sent to a friend shortly before his passing, Voisin expressed his fear that the war will continue for many years. Voisin died in February. He was 38.

In Memoriam: Remembering the Photographers We Lost in 2013 on LightBox.

Photograph by Allan Sekula (1951 - 2013)—Courtesy of the artist and Christopher Grimes Gallery, Santa Monica

Artist and critic Allan Sekula not only influenced how we understand photography, but redefined how the medium is discussed. Working between the worlds of conceptual and documentary photography and film, Sekula tackled issues of late contemporary capitalism and globalization, as in his projects Fish Story (above).

In Memoriam: Remembering the Photographers We Lost in 2013 on LightBox.

2013: The Year in 365 Pictures

Pictured: Dec. 4, 2013. A general view of the welcoming ceremony of the promotion of new police officers at the Prefecture de police in Paris, France. (Pierre Andrieu—AFP/Getty Images)

Visit LightBox for updates throughout the month as we complete our 365 gallery, featuring one photograph from each calendar day of the past year selected by TIME’s Senior Photo Editor Phil Bicker.

Photograph by Yuri Kozyrev—NOOR for TIME

From the tunnels deep underneath Moscow to the storm-ravaged aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan, the halls of the White House and the chaos in the Central African Republic, TIME photographers captured some of the year’s most compelling news images.

See TIME’s Best Photojournalism of 2013 on LightBox.

Photograph by Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding/Reuters

March 10, 2013. A female giant panda, Ke Lin, watches a panda mating video at Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding, Sichuan province. According to the staff of the research base, they showed Ke Lin this video trying to teach her know how to mate as she kept rejecting her. After watching this video, Ke Lin and Yong Yong successfully mated.

TIME Picks the Most Surprising Photos of 2013, a look back at a selection of underreported, improbable and astounding images that caught the attention of TIME’s photo editors.



Polaroids by Tom Bianchi—Courtesy of Demiani; Book Photographed by Carolyn Griffin for TIME

For last-minute holiday shopping ideas, visit TIME’s Photobooks We Love in 2013 on LightBox.

Above: Fire Island Pines: Polaroids 1975-1983 by Tom Bianchi, published by Damiani, selected by Vince Aletti, photography critic, The New Yorker.

"A collection of SX-70 Polaroids made between 1975 and 1983, Fire Island Pines is a fraught and fascinating period piece: a dazzling view of Eden before the Fall. Bianchi’s particular paradise — a famously hedonistic summer enclave populated almost exclusively by handsome, buffed gay men — looks like a soft-core porn fantasy or a Calvin Klein photo shoot. In a brief introductory note, Edmund White calls this “one version of gay happiness,” and Bianchi anticipates the familiar criticism. He knows the Pines clique was often dismissed as “Too body obsessed. Too fashion obsessed. Too shallow. Too sleazy. Too wild.” But these were his friends and lovers, and in his photographs they’re splendid and seductive and terrifically alive. We know how this story ends; not long after Bianchi stopped taking pictures on Fire Island, many of his subjects had succumbed to AIDS. Looking back is painful; liberation can look like heedlessness in retrospect. But Bianchi’s photographs are also about gay camaraderie—the brotherly love that later turned a crisis into a crusade.”

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