A Year in Images: Unity, then isolation

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Published: 12/31/2020 7:25:06 PM

As 2020 comes to a close, we look back at a year that will live on for generations. It was a time when we came to learn about social distancing. Businesses, schools and communities struggled to keep pace as they worked to adapt. Families reeled from the loss of loved one, often times without ever getting a chance to say goodbye. How can this year possibly be told through a select few images? In selecting their photos of the year, our photographers put their focus on the unexpected yet meaningful transition that happened in all our lives, all with the hopes that soon we’ll be united again. This is how they saw it.


 ‘Empty Streets’ By Carol Lollis

This has been a hard year. My mind reels with memories of understanding what was happening, as our landscape changed from a bustling excitement for spring to lockdowns, closings, empty schools, streets and playgrounds.

Our photo staff worked hard to keep up as the importance of documenting history became so clear. It was not just history, it was a history I had not seen before. It was not another state championship game, or a big storm. It was a pandemic, something I had never covered and had no practice in.

Covering COVID felt like holding sand in my hands as what we knew changed every day. I have taken many pictures this year that I like. It is not always that way. Sometimes I can’t find one that really stands out but this year I had many. There were the girls who met all spring in their cars, the protests, families hugging through glass doors in nursing homes, and the homeless navigating a closed downtown.

I chose this photo, however, because I remember so clearly how I felt when I took it. As I was leaving work that day and heading home, I saw Shane Coe on the steps of First Churches and that is how I felt – tired, cold, and overwhelmed by the empty streets. Now in January, the vaccine is a ray of hope and maybe, just maybe our downtown will be full again by spring.


‘A Sea of Faces’ By Kevin Gutting

This “End of Year” picture doesn’t make any claims on summing up the turmoil of the past nine-plus months. I don’t think any picture I’ve taken could do that justice. Instead, I chose this “pre-pandemic” sea of faces for the pure joy it brings (with no apologies to Marie Kondo), and maybe as a gentle nudge to consider how much we take for granted.

Ed “The Balloon Man” Popielarczyk, the spelling of whose name I committed to memory some 25 years ago, is conducting his magic show at Northampton’s First Night, exactly one year ago today. Without giving too much away, I think I can say that part of Popielarczyk’s schtick is feigning the “inept” magician. And the kids filling the front of Edwards Church, shoulder-to-shoulder, are borderline riotous, eating it up and shouting helpful hints to him.

Today, for safety’s sake, we’re watching First Night on our screens, in the comfort – and isolation – of our homes. But I know, in time, we will get back to the communal celebrations, no doubt with a greater appreciation for the time we have together.

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