These beautiful photographs by Pakistanis will give you hope for 2017

Start your new year with these mesmerising shots from 2016.
Published January 1, 2017

2016 has been a year like no other. We were blown away by the breathtaking pictures we have seen day in and day out from our amazing followers on Instagram.

In the last week of the year, we asked our followers to send their top shot along with the reason why they chose it; their words provide the captions that accompany their photos below.

From the thousands of entries we received through #DawnTopShot2016, here are some of the best pictures of the year — curated from photographers on our Instagram account.

'Sufi musician' by @rollingstone16:

"Taking a walk near Badshahi Masjid, on the food street I saw this artist singing a sufi number I can't recall but I totally found it mesmerizing. I kept thinking of so many artists that do not get exposure and they are just left to entertain people on the streets."

'Karachi's downtown' by @mystapaki:

"I chose this particular image of mine as my top shot for the entire year because through this particular image I was able to capture the feel (sounds, smells and general chaos) of this particular area deep in Karachi's downtown area. This alleyway is a microcosmic representation of the day to day hustle bustle one experiences in Karachi where multiple parallel worlds coexist with one another simultaneously. The light coming from a skylight in the alley adds an extra amount of oomph to my picture."

'A light from heaven' by @farooqsuhail:

"This shot was taken on our way to Rama valley Astore. I have not done anything special to take that shot, I just got lucky that I witnessed the most beautiful moment"

'Rubab player' by @atiqajabeen:

"Children are a symbol of hope, for me they are the game changers .Choosing this picture was for the same reason. Just a beginner but so much talented. When children start learning at an early age they are moving towards excellence. Whether it’s sports, art or any other field. Set them free and see how they rise."

'Calm' by @fakharry:

"Some of the pictures that made in my favourites from 2016 includes this one. It was captured at Chenab River on a frozen evening filled with utter calmness. I stepped into the cold water with my cousins holding me. I have never seen things so silent. It felt like a storm had passed."

'Magical Biafo Glacier' by @sheraliphotography:

"It might look like an ordinary scene in the photo to others but for me it was a magical scene up there and I can still feel that magical view when I look at this photo. This picture was taken during Snow Lake trek at Biafo glacier earlier in July."

Snow lake trek at Biafo glacier
Snow lake trek at Biafo glacier

'Across the Karakoram Highway' by @usmaankhaled:

"My favourite shot from 2016. It reminds me of my beautiful journey across the Karakoram Highway. We had to move back towards Hunza from Sost just to fill our fuel tank and it provided me a chance to capture this beautiful light through my lens. A lucky shot."

'Colours of Sufism' by @adeelchishti_:

"It seems like a deep story in this picture. This is the best picture of 2016 because these colours represent sufism in Pakistan"

'Hakuna Matata' by @izak_007:

"HAKUNA MATATA, A Swahili phrase; roughly translated, it means "no worries". Self explanatory: “It means no worries for the rest of your days. It’s a problem-free philosophy.” Relax! There are some things in life we cannot change; some things are out of our control. It's times like these you need to remind yourself “Hakuna Matata.” The way these children posed without any worries was the reason for selecting this picture."

'The lakes of Ratti Gali' by @usmanmiski:

"This is my top shot for 2016 because it is the only picture which shows both lakes of Ratti Gali in one frame plus this picture was shared and appreciated on many international forums because of its immense beauty and colours."

'Another Night, Another Dream' by @omergulvisuals

"I chose this shot because this is one of my favourite images from 2016. I had this composition from quite some time and I was waiting for the right location and time to make it. Fortunately I got chance to visit Deosai and shoot it. The end result is the blend of day and night images and my vision that I had in my mind while making this. Also this was loved by my friends and followers and got featured on so many Instagram hubs/accounts including

This is a composite of two different images. The foreground was shot in Deosai and the sky was added from an other image that I took last year in Jand, Attock. Merged the two to create a composite and later applied my voodoo magic to create a night feel. In the end I added a rider with a horse to make the composition a little more interesting."

'Katpana Desert' by @qammer_wazir:

"Though 2016 has been the best year for my photography but, of all the memories I've stored throughout the year, this is the best one. This shot was taken on a cold afternoon at the Cold Desert of Katpana Skardu."

Cold Desert of Katpana Skardu
Cold Desert of Katpana Skardu

'RGB' by @awais_ m _photography:

"It's the end of the year, I thought to entertain you with my top shot of 2016. I was browsing around looking for creative ideas for my macro work, I came across a photo which gave me the initial idea to put my own spin on it. I used some color pencils in the background and used red, green and blue colors based on RGB color model, hence the title of the photo RGB. The hardest part was to cut the pencils and place the glycerin drops on top. It took a lot of time and patience to set up this shot, took a total of 25 shots and then focus stacked to get all the details in focus."

'Sunset' by @emtiaazhussain

"I was listening to music while passing by Shigar River in Skardu and enjoying the serenity of sunset behind mighty mountains. I was in a trance but nature seemed in hurry so I didn't stop myself from capturing this eye catching golden hour."

'Light painting' by @khizze:

"The weather was awesome and I tried light painting on Jumeirah Beach near Burj Al Arab with my friends. Result was satisfactory and I am in love with this mood"

'Peace returns to Swat' by @ahadmasood1:

"Whenever I think about my achievements in life, the first thing which comes to my mind is this picture. For a lot of people, this won't be much. But for me, this is everything. This picture reflects a lot about the people of Pakistan. It's a tale of how terrorism was eradicated from a valley which was once filled with the sounds of gunfire and screams. That's the thing about Pakistanis. We always fight back. Mahoodant Lake, Kalam, Swat, KPK"

'Snowfall in Abbottabad' by @aleenask_photography:

"This year's snowfall in February was a surprise for all the inhabitants of Abbottabad. It kept snowing for one whole night and one entire morning and everything was covered in thick layers of snow. In my memory, this was the first heavy snowfall that I witnessed in my hometown. Everything was covered in snow and it was SO bright that for a few minutes when I first stepped out I couldn't see a thing."

'Village girl' by @sal_shots:

"This picture promotes education and empowerment. Living in a rural area did not make her feel uneducated or unaware of the world."

'The Mighty Mountains' by @bahoosarwar:

"It's not just a random click. It relives the mystery of the Karakoram Mountains. So heal your wounds by consuming the colours of mighty nature and spread happiness through your work of art."

'Bravery stone' by @akmalkhan323:

"Bravery stone situated on the backside of Altit Fort in Hunza. It is famous for the selection of the special guardians of the Fort. Every one who want to join the guardians group, he must jump from the wall of Fort on this edge and back jump on the wall of the fort. Successful people become the part of special guardians and unsuccessful mostly lost their lives"

'Sunrise' by @_the.lost.soul:

"Whenever I come to Lahore, I go to this place at sunrise. Last year I experienced extreme fog but this time this place was showing different scene. The colors of nature were showing their best part at a place of modern as well as historic architectures. This was best year for my photography and I learned a lot and still going on; but this shot and classical view will be remembered ever"

Lahore, Pakistan
Lahore, Pakistan

'Derawar Fort' by @summia23:

"At the sunny day with clouds hovering over amazing ancient architecture reflects Pakistan's rich heritage, the forty bastions of Derwar fort standing with grace in middle of Cholistan desert. "From cholistan desert to the peak of Nanga Parbat, this country is blessed with all the beauty of mother nature"

'Postcard from Balochistan' by @itshassannasir:

"Sta num dhe? (What's your name?)", I asked. "Zama num de Tayyab, agha num de Noor Shah (My name is Tayyab, and his name is Noor Shah) ", the one in green replied. And then they blushed as loveably as one could imagine. We saw these lads while exploring a desolate railway station near the Shangiani town. Most people here have been friendly, unlike the preconceived notion we had of an hostile environment. We have had the company of locals, many of whom invited us for dinner, but we declined with a heavy heart because of the limitations on our interactions. Balochistan was a great place to explore.

'Sunrise at Nanga Parbat' by @adnankakazai:

"One of the most spectacular sights and the best sunrise one can witness anywhere in the world. It becomes more special when you know that in very short time you will be away from this place. The sunrise right in front of the mighty Nanga Parbat. The uniqueness of this sunrise is when you capture the sun rays trying to overcome the mighty mountain and to know that the full illumination of Nanga Parbat will only be possible by noon time. It was indeed an unforgettable moment…"

'The Green Flag' by @sartajhussain72:

"The 'Green Flag' fluttering in the evening breeze near Durrand Line, Pak-Afghan border. This picture was captured at Chapri top which is located at the height of 9941ft, Parachinar, Tribal Areas. I was delighted to find our dignity 'flag' at at such a place. This is one of my favourite pictures."

'The magnificent Badshahi Mosque' by @ali_awaiss:

"Looking into my 2016 photography folder for choosing the best of the year wasn't easy for me. But I ended up selecting this picture as it won 3rd place in Silk bank's photography competition and also the title of Photographer of the week by @dawndotcom. Moreover this is one of the images that I gave up on initially and got right after several attempts"

Badshahi Mosque, Lahore
Badshahi Mosque, Lahore

'The Mountains Are Calling' by @mubi_badshah:

"One of the best shots in my 2016 archive. Perfect light and scene at Fairy Meadows and Nanga Parbat in Diamir district, Gilgit Baltistan, Pakistan"

'Perfect composition' by @Khumais:

"This picture is my favourite from 2016 because it contains all of the composition elements I always look for; the tree at golden ratio, the shepherd adds human element, mountains in background perfectly borders the frame, rectangular shaped cropped field, soft tones and overall story that depicts lifestyle of rural areas of Balochistan"

'Gorakh Hill Station by @nisar_adil:

"This silhouette was taken at Gorakh Hill Station, Sindh. I crossed the barrier to reach the last ridge accessible . The guy in Picture was some photographer capturing a time lapse of the sunset.

This is my favorite shot from 2016, because after visiting the place, I now realize that this is definitely one of the most underrated Hill Station in Pakistan."

'Floating Cotton Candies' by @the_ateeq:

"I consider this as my #dawntopshot2016 because... I just like the colours of fall"

'Enroute to Sost Gojal' by @komronbaig

"A Pakistani truck enroute to Sost, it’s a dry port passing through Gulmit village of Gojal. This road would change the demographics of this region when the CPEC is in its full flow. I hope that every region is given an extra share of education and health from where this road passes.

I chose this shot because it is the earliest picture that I captured when I started photographing and this picture holds a great importance in my life. "

View all entries from #DawnTopShot2016 here and follow us on Instagram here.