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Austin winter storm photo featured in TIME's Top 100 Photos of 2021

A young man warms up in his car as his apartment complex sits in darkness during Texas' winter storm in Austin. (Tamir Kalifa—The New York Times/Redux)

Austin was honored with a surprise feature in Time's Top 100 Photos of 2021, but like many of the photos in the collection, it wasn't for capturing a feel-good moment.

The photo, featured at No. 30 on the list, depicts a telling scene during February's winter storm, when a man took to his car to warm up and charge his phone. His face, lit up by the phone screen in the dark vehicle, is the only source of light at the apartment complex, which had been out of power since early the day before, according to the caption. In the backdrop of the snowy scene sits a fully lit city skyline, an issue faced by Austin Energy during the deep freeze.

"Huge winter storms plunged large parts of the central and southern United States into an energy crisis as frigid blasts of Arctic weather crippled electric grids and left millions of Americans without power amid dangerously cold temperatures," the Time caption reads.

The picture was taken by Austin-based visual journalist Tamir Kalifa for the New York Times. Kalifa, whose works have been featured in the NYT, The Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, USA Today and elsewhere, has taken photos for key Texas events including Hurricane Harvey, pandemic life and the Beto O'Rourke vs. Ted Cruz campaigns as well as multiple projects in Israel.

Time's 2021 rendition of the list depicts harrowing and historic moments—from family members losing their loved ones to COVID while divided by glass to the Jan. 6 Capitol riots. "Seeing is still believing," the piece's intro reads, emphasizing the importance of images.

"Remember when people thought it was the year? That 2020 was uniquely cursed, the worst year ever, that all would be resolved by January. Instead, 2021 has proved to be a fraught annum of unfinished transitions, half-kept promises, all torque and in-betweens," TIME's Karl Vick writes. "If the reality we all still share is the one captured in pixels, that consensus is precious, and worth guarding while we figure out how to talk to one another again... because what would we believe if we couldn't believe our own eyes? What we want to believe, of course. And look where that's got us."


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