The Globe photographers’ best photos of 2020 – The Boston Globe

October 23 / Brockton — What we’re living through now with the pandemic is going down in history, so it was extremely important to be out there covering it. I was actually on assignment to shoot a high school lacrosse game when I saw these two empty COVID-19 testing tents. Right before dusk, a few cars drove up and I jumped out of my car and shot a few frames. The color balance from the lighting mixed with sunset gave it that weird glow. It looked like science fiction; it looked otherworldly. —Barry Chin
March 13 / Waltham — For me, this was the beginning of the pandemic. Charlie Baker had declared a state of emergency, and people crashed the supermarkets with long lines. There were things none of us had ever seen — people with garbage bags over their head, people in gas masks. I was shooting all that when I saw this little girl in a Market Basket. The look on her face is what we were all feeling that day. It hadn’t even started and she was over it. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. There’s a new facial expression called 2020, and that little girl had it. —Suzanne Kreiter
July 1 / Boston — I was down in Franklin Park looking for a feature and I caught this bright pink dress and balloons out of the corner of my eye. Andrea Mercury was turning 50, so she was having her son take pictures of her for her Instagram. She’d had a big birthday trip planned to Paris that she had to cancel. She seemed to be having fun. I was able to shoot it low enough to get her son’s yellow shoes. It was kind of a joy for me. —Craig F. Walker
June 2 / Boston — This was the first protest of the Black Lives Matter movements in Boston that I covered. Tensions were high. There was a polite demonstration in Franklin Park, then I followed a group of protesters to the Forest Hills MBTA station where this standoff happened. The woman was very adamantly yelling at the police officers to take a knee in solidarity; they were ignoring her. There’s so many elements of this photo that speak to the mood of this summer: the “Don’t Shoot” banner behind her, and the intense look on her face; she looks angry and fed up and just done. —Erin Clark
June 2 / South Boston — In April, Boston Hope opened at the convention center as an overflow facility for COVID patients. By June, officials were going to close it. The staff showed up and lined the front entrance as the last patient, Oger Julien, was wheeled out. People were bawling their eyes out, doctors hugging nurses, everyone was overwhelmed with emotion. When he got to the end, through this wave of applause, he threw his arms up, like victory, he had beat it. He was 78, and he had beat COVID. This was a very moving moment and a privilege to witness. —John Tlumacki
November 7 / Boston — When I learned that Joe Biden had won the election, I grabbed my cameras and rushed into the city looking for a spontaneous celebration. Instead, it being 2020, I found a group of Trump supporters outside the State House, chanting back and forth with a group of Biden supporters. It was peaceful but tense, with both sides shouting at each other. These two women were exchanging verbal jabs. The Trump supporter held her ground and kept waving a “Keep America Great” flag. It felt like a moment that captured how divided this country has become. —Jessica Rinaldi
October 2 / West Newfield, Maine — My boss needed some foliage pictures at the last moment so we chartered a small plane out of Beverly. It was a lousy day for foliage, it wasn’t quite as peak as I would have liked. We ended up on the New Hampshire side of the border looking toward Maine. You’re looking for a church, a steeple, a barn — a typical New England scene. You don’t know what you’re going to get. I saw out of the corner of my eye that fog bank coming through the hills. It was such bad weather, we had to turn around. —David L. Ryan
May 31 / Boston — It was really the only night in Boston where the protests after the killing of George Floyd got out of control. I got pictures of police pepper spraying the crowd and some people looting. I was concerned about my own safety — you are recording people breaking the law. I went to Downtown Crossing, where I knew there was conflict. When I was leaving, I saw this big cloud of black smoke and a rush of people walking toward me. I asked a protestor, “What’s that burning?” It was a Boston police vehicle. —Matthew J. Lee
March 27 / Boston — Jen Andonian and Matt Shearer are two epidemiologists who couldn’t get married out of state as they had planned, so they were going to do it before a group of disaster medicine colleagues in the Ether Dome, this historical suite at Massachusetts General Hospital. This was a rare happy moment in the early scary days. At the very end, when they posed for pictures and you had all the people in masks behind them, you get the beautiful discordant moment that makes this picture. What a fitting and memorable wedding photo these two have. —Suzanne Kreiter
October 22 / West Roxbury — This was an 84-year-old woman who’d been wheeled outside of her retirement home to meet with her daughter for the first time since they’d been quarantined. I shot it tight — that was the full frame, there was no cropping. I decided to photograph just her hands. The hands showed her wisdom, and her body language showed her spirituality. I saw it as a black-and-white picture; color would add a frivolity that wasn’t warranted. To me, it showed the universal love people have for their families. You don’t have to show a hug or kiss, the hands said it all. —Stan Grossfeld
February 29 / Newport, Vt. — On New Year’s Day photographing the annual Polar Plunge, I noticed some swimmers hanging out long after everyone else had run screaming back to shore. The L Street Ice Swimmers told me about the winter swim festival at Lake Memphremagog, where they carve lanes into the ice and hold a swim meet — in February. It’s definitely a community of fun-loving people. They have “strippers” to help you undress before getting into the 28-degree water and get you dressed immediately when you get out. This swimmer, Martha Wood, getting into her dry robe, conveyed this moment of joy. —Jessica Rinaldi
March 12 / Boston — I had been shooting a lot of scenes of the city emptying out; people were starting to vanish from the streets. At the end of my shift, down by the water on Day Boulevard, I saw this guy walking toward me. I thought, “What is that?” He’d found this plastic bubble in a friend’s yard and decided maybe it would be helpful with coronavirus. It seemed over the top. But then again, who knows? As he was walking away, and you could see the bubble silhouetted against the sky, I realized that’s the picture; it has a surreal feel to it. —Craig F. Walker
May 6 / Quincy — The story was about new mothers and their concerns in the age of COVID. We wanted to keep the baby safe, so I kept my distance, using a medium long lens to photograph her. The baby had been put down for her nap, and her mother, Alice Owolabi Mitchell, brought her outside. I brought her onto the sidewalk, where there was nice shade under a tree. I just had the mother commune with the baby. It was funny, the baby was pulling on the mask, like all babies do. —Pat Greenhouse
September 11 / Milford — The public schools were just opening up in a socially distanced way, so we didn’t know what to expect. I was incredibly lucky this elementary school happened to have a balcony above its lunchroom. I walked in, looked up, and said, “Yup.” The geometry of the situation actually tells the story — if I’d waited and a couple kids had gotten up to leave, the picture wouldn’t have been as strong. This was only the second day of school and the educators said the kids were ecstatic to be there, they were starved for interaction outside of their family. —Suzanne Kreiter
August 12 / Fenway Park — This was Red Sox right fielder Kevin Pillar catching a routine fly ball. The thing that made it different was the sea of red seats behind him. With fans not allowed in Fenway, the empty seats told the story. Because of the pandemic, we can’t be in the dugout, so I shot from behind home plate. They pumped crowd noise into the ballpark, which was a loud constant buzz in your ears and always a split second behind. Someone got a hit and two seconds later, you’d hear cheering. —Jim Davis
October 5 / Boston — The Globe’s city block project is looking at how the coronavirus is affecting one city block on Water Street in Boston and how this has a ripple effect on the economy. I was on the street for a good chunk of the day. Jake Horan was working at a clothing store nearby and he tried to go to different restaurants every day. I like the fact he is by himself; it gets to how lonely downtown can be. The city is so quiet, it’s eerie. That pigeon is his only lunch companion. —Craig F. Walker
December 14, 2019 / Richmond, British Columbia, Canada — This was for a Spotlight story published in January 2020 about how lettuces have become the leading cause of E. coli poisoning in this country, and the government’s lack of the means, or will, to handle it. This Canadian family, the Parkers, had traveled to a vacation in California and eaten salad for lunch, and it left their 2-year-old with permanent brain damage. Because Lucas is so medically fragile, his parents put a mattress down on the living room floor and sleep with him every night. This is an intimate, private moment of a family doing everything in its power to protect this child. —Suzanne Kreiter
April 15 / Gloucester — During the pandemic, because museums and galleries had been closed, we explored the stomping grounds of famous artists who had New England ties. A lot of artists have been inspired by Gloucester, including Stuart Davis. I spent time looking at Davis’ work and letting it influence me. You let the work wash over you, and then translate that into the photography. His work was extremely colorful, so I was looking for bold color and graphic patterns. Rocky Neck Avenue is a real visual treat. That picture may have been the first frame I shot the whole day. —Lane Turner
November 12 / Cambridge — Jim Manning is one of the more premier Santas in the area, he’s always in big demand. This year we went to his house where he was doing Zoom calls with kids. He’s adapting, he has to. He had a nice setup: a green screen so kids would see a Christmas scene behind him, some lighting, a couple of computers. I shot “over the shoulder” of a little girl and her mother. The girl was cute, she was quite impressed. He picked the book up to read her a story; that kind of made the photo. —Jim Davis
October 8 / Randolph — We’ve done so many remote learning stories of kids at their computers; it’s hard to get something different. When I walked into Yassiah Lopez’s room, it was pitch black. His mom offered to turn the lights on, but I wanted to photograph something authentic. I stood in a corner waiting for him to lean closer to his laptop. This 10-year-old discovered he liked to work with his blinds closed and hood up — you wouldn’t be able to do that in school. In all these situations, I’ve been impressed how kids can adapt. They were ripped from their normality and had to adjust. —Erin Clark
April 26 / Peabody — People couldn’t get together during COVID, and so drive-by celebrations became a new way to celebrate, by having the parade come to you. Eleanor Dittmer was turning 93, and so her family organized this birthday drive-by. There was a firetruck, police cars, shouts, horns honking. People were hanging out of windows, watching. She was waving back; it was almost like the royal wave. After a while, they got out and lined up under the window and sang. She was thrilled. —Pat Greenhouse
April 25 / Fall River — The family that owns Amaral’s Central Market had lost three members to COVID in just three days. It was a tragedy. I was there to take pictures of a makeshift memorial, where people bring flowers and candles and mementos to remember someone. The family is well-respected in the community; I waited several hours and eventually this young girl and her mother came along with her scooter. They spent some time in front of the store. The picture speaks to how close-knit the community is. —Jonathan Wiggs

October 18 / Boston — A counter-protester drops to his knees after setting an effigy of President Trump on fire in front of a barricade, where a group with ties to the far right called Super Happy Fun America held a rally they called “Peaceful Protest Against Democrat Violence” at Copley Square. —Jessica Rinaldi
August 6 / Watertown — Children’s librarian Kazia Berkley-Cramer leads children in a song while using Facebook Live during story time at the Watertown Free Public Library. The library reopened during the pandemic on July 27 for limited use. —Craig F. Walker
May 8 / Jamaica Plain — Ellen Taylor talks to her 100-year-old mother, Eva Taylor, through a first-floor window at the Rogerson House, where visits had been restricted because of coronavirus. Residents have issues with memory loss and Alzheimer’s. Staff at the Rogerson House brought mothers close to the windows so they could see family who wanted to wish them a happy Mother’s Day. —John Tlumacki
June 2 / Boston — A woman tries talking to Boston police officers as she participates in a demonstration outside of the Forest Hills T Station. The rally and vigil took place near Franklin Park in response to the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and other Black people at the hands of police. —Erin Clark
April 28 / East Boston — Funeral director Joe Ruggiero, the second generation to run his family’s business, moves a body into a makeshift storage area at the Ruggiero Family Memorial Home. Usually the space is used as a tribute room where photos are displayed and coffee is served to families during wakes, but they’ve had to convert the space in response to deaths related to COVID-19. —Jessica Rinaldi
April 9 / Quincy — Members of the Massachusetts National Guard remove their hazmat suits after leaving Alliance Health at Marina Bay. The National Guard was deployed to Quincy to assist nursing homes with COVID-19 testing. —Stan Grossfeld
March 5 / Cambridge — Senator Elizabeth Warren, with her husband, Bruce, by her side, officially announces the end of her 2020 presidential bid. —Barry Chin
March 26 / Boston — A man passes through reflected light on a nearly empty Congress Street in downtown. —Craig F. Walker
October 12 / Boston — Women are reflected in the window of a business showing the televised Senate Judiciary Committee hearings to consider Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination to the Supreme Court. —Jessica Rinaldi
April 24 / Boston — In a highly emotional reunion, Omar Borges, a Boston police officer, is reunited with his wife and children after being released from Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. The 38-year-old officer contracted COVID-19 and spent weeks in the hospital. —Barry Chin

Melissa Schorr is a frequent contributor to the Globe Magazine. Send comments to [email protected]
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