1.Flashes of Brilliance


Whether capturing Billie Joe Armstrong spontaneously breaking into song, Nathan Followill offering a toke on his funny-smelling cigarette, or MGMT's Andrew VanWyngarden having his Fellini moment at Lollapalooza (above), 2010 was a great year for SPIN's original photography.

In this gallery you'll find some of our favorite shots of the year. Each was hand-picked by photo director Michelle Egiziano, who also explains her reasons for selecting them.


2.Flashes of Brilliance


Whether capturing Billie Joe Armstrong spontaneously breaking into song, Nathan Followill offering a toke on his funny-smelling cigarette, or MGMT's Andrew VanWyngarden having his Fellini moment at Lollapalooza (above), 2010 was a great year for SPIN's original photography.

In this gallery you'll find some of our favorite shots of the year. Each was hand-picked by photo director Michelle Egiziano, who also explains her reasons for selecting them.


3.Green Day's Billie Joe Armstrong


The photo shoot for the Green Day frontman's cover of SPIN's "Under the Influence" issue, in which he interviewed his idol, Replacements rocker Paul Westerberg, transformed into an impromptu concert.

"Billie Joe opened up forthe photographer, Francesco Carrozzini, and played a few tunes from his band's Broadway play American Idiot for all of us," Egiziano says of this candid moment.

4.Kings of Leon's Nathan Followill / Charlotte Gainsbourg


These portraits were taken at different times and locations, by two different photographers, and for two different issues of SPIN. Followill was shot for his band's November cover story by Dan Martensen; Gainsbourg was photographed by Francesco Carrozzini for April's "Under the Influence" issue. But both capture the essence of their subjects' personalities.

"When this shot of Nathan smoking came up on the monitor I did my 'OMG! AwesomePicture! YES!' dance," Egiziano says. His quiet playfulness shines through in the pic.

The Parisian singer's photo shows her grace and elegance. "Charlotte Gainsbourg is perfection; every photographer in the world wants to photograph her," Egiziano says. "Do yourself a favor and watch her in My Wife is an Actress. You will fall in love. And her music is pretty great, too!"

5.Chrissie Hynde + JP Jones


Fidelity, the new album from Pretenders rock icon Chrissie Hynde and Welsh singer JP Jones, "feels fresher than anything she's done in years," we wrote in our review of the record. At this feature shoot, Hynde was lively and engaging, despite her reputation for being a perfectionist.

"We were very nervous about getting things right with her, but started on the right foot by commissioning rising photo star Jimmy Fontaine," says Egiziano. "They immediately hit it off and got along great. This picture is so intimate and charming. I love it."



Backstage before their set at Chicago's Lollapalooza in August, the Brooklyn psych rockers paused for a pep talk -- and renowned fashion photographer Guy Aroch was there to witness the moment.

He shot the entire festival, including sets by Arcade Fire, Phoenix, and the National. "His dreamy portfolio of Lollapalooza captured quiet moments most fans don't get to see — along with some raucous stage shots," says Egiziano. See more of Aroch's Lolla pics here .

7.Courtney Love


Even at 46, alt-rock's queen bitch is still stirring things up.

"A memory I won't soon forget: Courtney Love standing in front of me wearing nothing more than black stockings, an unlit cigarette in one hand and a red velvet cupcake in the other, telling me why she doesn't want to wear that Dolce & Gabbana dress," Egiziano recalls of the cover shoot for SPIN's March issue. "In spite of all the drama, Daniel Jackson took some of my favorite pictures of the year."

8.Screaming Females


The New Jersey punk rock trio are known for their wild gigs -- so when they played a DIY venue above an auto parts store in Brooklyn, we asked the show's organizer, photographer Rebecca Smeyne, to share her best pics.

"She sends me the most outrageous pictures that make us all laugh," says Egiziano. "Here I find little details that crack me up, not least of which is the dude in red metallic hot-shorts lying prostrate on the stage."

9.Kid Cudi


For a feature story in SPIN's October issue, we met with Kid Cudi at photographer RJ Shaughnessy's home in Los Angeles. Soon the Cleveland rapper took a break to relax, shoot some hoops, and drink beer.

"Cudi is hard to pin down but we were very excited to pair him with RJ, whose signature California style yielded some very memorable photos," says Egiziano. "And who doesn't love an afternoon of beer and b-ball?"

10.Sonic Youth & Pavement


Matador Records' 21st birthday party in late-October in Las Vegas was a 48-hour all-you-can-hear music buffet -- and it brought together some of the most influential bands from the past, including Pavement and Sonic Youth.

"This is a photo that makes photo editors cry with joy," says Egiziano. "It's two very important bands together in the same room seemingly enjoying themselves. It reminds me of great photos from the late-'70s from Bob Gruen or Roberta Bayley."

See more photos from Matador 21 here.

11.Sleigh Bells


For SPIN's September style issue, photographer Nick Haymes shot the hottest new boy-girl duos, including Brooklyn's noise-pop outfit Sleigh Bells, featuring Alexis Krauss and Derek Miller.

"Everyone was talking about Sleigh Bells this summer when we shot this," says Egiziano. "I particularly loved this photo because it says everything and nothing at all, and the image matches their sound."

12.Trash Talk


The Sacramento hardcore punk outfit's live shows are brash, fast, and in your face.

"How many times in your life can you claim to be horizontal and airborne at the same time? It took years off my life to scour the internet for the right photo and this one by Giles Smith stole my heart," says Egiziano.

13.High Places / Hundred in the Hands / Phantogram


For our duos style feature, Nick Haymes shot Los Angeles electronica outfit High Places, Brooklyn dance-pop group Hundred in the Hands, and Upstate, NY, electro rockers Phantogram.

"Nick is a magician," Egiziano says. "He created a narrative for the duos that had heroes and villains in every shot. The artists really enjoyed getting into character and toying with each others minds."

(Clockwise from left: High Places, Hundred in the Hands' Eleanore Everdell, and Phantogram's Sarah Barthel)

14.Reggie Watts


For our December issue we photographed 2010's Best New Comedian Reggie Watts in Brooklyn's Williamsburg neighborhood.

"The photographer Steven Brahms loved the idea of shooting Reggie because he's so talented and entertaining," says Egiziano. "He was obsessed with the idea of getting Reggie on this mini-bike. We all stood in the street in Williamsburg while Reggie raced up and down and laughed until we were no longer breathing. This is a beautiful photograph and one I don't think Reggie will forget."



The Detroit rapper had a banner year, returning to the top of the charts with his smash album Recovery -- which landed him on the cover of SPIN's August issue. Photographer Maciek Kobielski photographed the rapper at an abandoned warehouse in his hometown.

"This shoot was a real nail-biter -- a huge and temperamental artist meets an art/fashion photographer with a unique approach and amazing ideas," says Egiziano. "It had all the ingredients for imminent job loss.

"But it worked out beautifully and everyone (including Eminem, who posted our gallery on Facebook!) was really happy with the photos."

16.My Chemical Romance


The New Jersey emo-punks are back with a new album, Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys, and a new look as the futuristic renegade gang called the Killjoys. Photographer Ture Lillegraven captured the surrealism of this persona in the shoot for the band's December cover story.

"Ture can handle anything with grace, creativity, and wit," says Egiziano. "He delivers the most dynamic and engaging photos and the bands all love him. I'm not sure MCR knew what they walked into that day, but we had them mercilessly running up and down the side of a pool, rallying a jeep, and playing with a giant inflatable panda bear on a very warm California afternoon. Gerard, Ray, Mikey, and Frank were my heroes!"



One of indie rock's sexiest new sirens is Caroline Polachek of Brooklyn's Charlift. No one's contesting that. "How do you make five editors and art directors instantly agree on printing a photo? Show them this Soundcheck photo of Caroline creatively fashioned with gaffers tape," jokes Egiziano.

18.Robyn / Jeff the Brotherhood


Both Swede pop princess Robyn and Nashville garage rock duo Jeff the Brotherhood had breakout years -- and Robyn's photo shoot was almost as fast as her rise to fame in the U.S.

"We produced this shoot in one day with an amazing team, including photographer David Roemer, while Robyn had an airplane ticket in her hand," says Egiziano. "We worked quickly and made pictures that I adore."

The Jeff the Brotherhood shoot by photographer Viki Forshee also became a favorite at SPIN HQ. "Brothers Jake and Jamin were reluctant to pose this way and frankly we made them do it anyway," says Egiziano. "This photo has been up on our wall in the art department all year. They are cute and bored and completely rock'n'roll."



Nathan Williams is indie rock's bad boy -- a weed-lovin' SoCal skater punk who dates Best Coast's Beth Cosentino. Then when his recent full-length King of the Beach dropped, the world had even more to talk about.

Roberta Ridolfi's photos of Williams in our August issue show the frontman's carefree attitude. "Roberta had Nathan for an afternoon in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, and she truly captured a moment -- smoke that looks like water," says Egiziano. "Imagine how many people Annie Leiboiwitz would hire to come up with that idea! It's a gorgeous shot."

20.Caleb Followill


Kings of Leon have become a global success story -- and SPIN celebrated by naming them Artist of the Year and putting them on the cover of our January/February issue.

"We had ten minutes in a room at the Jane Hotel and our photographer Freddie Helwig took this cute photo of [frontman] Caleb [Followill]," says Egiziano. "Caleb said during the shoot, 'It's a good thing my brothers aren't here!' because we were making him do all kinds of ridiculous stunts. He was very gracious about all of it and when we shot the band a few months ago for our November issue, it seemed like he had completely forgiven us!"

21.Jay Electronica


New Orleans rapper Jay Electronica is one of the most unique, enigmatic voices in hip-hop. And at SPIN's shoot for his July issue feature, his eccentric personality showed itself.

"The photographer Anna Bauer was so patient with the scheduling issues surrounding this shoot," explains Egiziano. "She was on standby for three days until someone could find Jay's new phone number. She went to his apartment by herself and embraced the cool film noir scene that he inhabits. He had no less than ten clocks and rotary phones on every table. No wonder we couldn't reach him -- we were texting!"



With their new album Congratulations, Brooklyn's psych-pop stars MGMT fashioned themselves as 21st-century dandies who have an obsession with rock's great songwriters. At Lollapalooza, they lived the persona.

"It feels so reminiscent of Jim Marshall, Jerry Schatzberg, and Bob Gruen photos of Dylan, Bowie, and the Stones," Egizino says of Guy Aroch's photo of frontman Andrew VanWyngarden. This image would also fit perfectly in Federico Fellini's classic b&w flick about celebrity culture, 81/2.