TOLAROIDS: Best of 2021

Happy New Year!

While we enter 2022, I wanted to do a photography recap of 2021. Not every photo here is my best, as some of them are more significant in meaning than the artistic value. I tried to choose a photo that would be a highlight from every month.


JANUARY – Morning in the mountains (Zakopane, Poland)

One of the first photos taken in 2021 with my brand new camera and lens in one of my favorite parts of Poland


FEBRUARY – New wave of protests in Poland after controversial, stricter abortion law was proposed (Krakow, Poland)

Now, I am not usually a fan of Black&White photos, but I believe they can often be powerful. Red has become an important symbol in the women’s strike which is against the strict and religiously conservative new abortion laws in Poland. These laws already caused many health concerns as well as led to actual death, but also put the future of Poland’s political freedom and democracy into question.

MARCH – 1. Women’s strike on the International Women’s Day (Krakow, Poland)

I am putting two pictures for March since this is an important issue that I want to gain more international recognition. Since the new government was elected Poland’s democracy has been in decline. The government’s doings caused a wave of protests in which participation is progressively met with more punishments and consequences, which is a real threat to Poland’s political freedom.

2. A famous occupied house on Rigaer Strasse (Berlin, Germany)


Walking through Berlin you can often see these graffiti-filled buildings that are actually areas occupied by citizens who often reject the conventional social structures and norms. They usually separate themselves from the society and communicate through art and activism. Landlords often don’t mind, but with increasing gentrification the occupants are more frequently forced out of what is now their home – and so they protest with art pieces like this one.

APRIL – Re-discovering my city (Krakow, Poland)

I was already stuck at home for the semester, which is why I decided to re-discover my city by walking through it and pretending like I am a tourist seeing it for the first time.


MAY – The line for COVID vaccinations on the Market Square (Krakow, Poland)

In May vaccines started to be available to everyone aged 18 and older instead of only for certain groups, and it was still difficult to find a slot on short notice. That is why sometimes there were tents put up in popular places and just for a weekend with the Johnson&Johnson vaccines that would allow people to get vaccinated on a “first-come, first-served” basis without having to wait a month to find a slot.

JUNE – Pride parade (Berlin, Germany)

Christopher Street Day in Berlin is a day filled with joy, music, and booze when those supporting the LGBTQ+ community march (or dance!) through the city


JULY – Etna volcano (Sicily, Italy) 

I know you know this photo already, but I just really like it. It really felt like hiking on the moon.


AUGUST – A little guy I encountered while hiking (near Graz, Austria)

Some microphotography for you as I haven’t posted much of it


SEPTEMBER – Stormy night (Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA)

The photo itself is not the greatest in my opinion, but it was one of the first ones I have taken in Michigan. The storms here are insane and very different than the ones in Europe, mostly because it’s literally flat all around us and you can see the cloud formations and the huge lightning bolts so clearly.


OCTOBER – Presidential helicopter departing the White House (Washington DC, USA)

The definition of being in the right place at the right time.

NOVEMBER – Last days of fall (Ann Arbor, Michigan)

Because who doesn’t love a Law Quad in _____ *insert literally any season*


DECEMBER – A pair of eagles built a nest on top of a rocket in the NASA visitor center (Orlando, Florida, USA)

Just everything about this including the “nest” falling apart was just fantastic.


That was my 2021 in pictures: it’s not as diverse travel-wise as 2020, but a lot of changes and personally important events took place. Make sure to keep an eye on which ones I post on my @akilian.jpg photo Instagram and let’s see what 2022 brings us.



Tola is a young photographer from Krakow, Poland. She transferred to the University of Michigan in Fall 2021 from Royal Holloway, University of London, to double-major in Biopsychology, Cognition & Neuroscience and Classical Archaeology. Her series "Tolaroids" consists of photo stories, tutorials, and commentaries that explore all kinds of photography. In her free time, she loves dancing, painting, and sipping good coffee. She also pets all the dogs she can meet on the way to class. Instagram: @akilian.jpg Email:

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