A world turned upside down: Documenting an unreal year in photos

Protesters facing California Highway Patrol officers observe a moment of silence after blocking traffic on the Dumbarton Bridge on June 12. Photo by Magali Gauthier.

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A world turned upside down: Documenting an unreal year in photos

Protesters facing California Highway Patrol officers observe a moment of silence after blocking traffic on the Dumbarton Bridge on June 12. Photo by Magali Gauthier.

The past 12 months have been unlike any other. As the Almanac’s visual journalist captured this historic, life-changing year that included weeks of civil protests, unprecedented fires and a pandemic that transformed everyday life, their images reflect a range of unfamiliar and sometimes surreal moments that shaped 2020.

When viewed together, these images reveal just how much life has changed over the past 12 months. Photos predating the Bay Area's stay-at-home health order in mid-March feel like they were taken during another era, in a different world. In January, it was strange to see someone wearing a mask; by midyear, it was disconcerting to see someone who wasn't. No sooner had we adapted to this strange stay-at-home life than people in every community mobilized and took to the streets. Hundreds of local residents peacefully protested against social injustice to draw attention to racism toward Black community members, and call for meaningful change in policing practices.

We were forced indoors again when wildfire smoke choked the air and turned the sky orange, taking away the outdoor dining and recreation that served as a lifeline for many. Families with children were hit hard when schools and daycares closed, teaching moved online, graduations became drive-thru and the first day of school was marked by temperature checks, hand sanitizer and socially distanced desks.

We saw residents who rose above these challenging times, like Alice's Restaurant co-owner Andy Kerr, who delivered meals to first responders combating the CZU Lightning Complex fires in the Santa Cruz Mountains. And there are images of hope and the possible return to normalcy as some of the first recipients rolled up their sleeves to get the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine.

Here are those moments that illustrate how our community persevered through this trying year.

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Lilley Nava places a self-administered swab in a test tube at a community-run COVID-19 test site in Belle Haven on Dec. 13; Benjamin Hinton II, a pharmacist, gives Channing House resident Jean Aitchison the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine on Dec. 28. Photos by Magali Gauthier.

A masked cook works the grill as unmasked diners sit at tables inside the Village Pub in Woodside on July 6. Photo by Magali Gauthier.

First graders at Oak Knoll Elementary sit at least 6 feet apart from each other while eating snacks at the start of recess on Sept. 29. Local schools began allowing young students back on campus in the fall, with a battery of health and safety measures in place; Etika Fifita raises her fist in solidarity with fellow Black Lives Matters protesters on Sept. 25 at the intersection of Ravenswood Avenue and El Camino Real in Menlo Park. Photos by Magali Gauthier.

Aurelie Harou drops off her ballot for the Nov. 3 presidential election outside of Menlo Park City Hall on Oct. 27. Californians voted by mail in record numbers; Eric Woodman tries to get the attention of his wife Marty Woodman, who has Alzheimer’s disease, outside Silver Oaks Memory Care in Menlo Park on April 15, as Linda Mittelstadt and Paula Trujillo assist her. Visitors were banned from entering the facility due to COVID-19 concerns. Photos by Magali Gauthier.

An incoming Menlo-Atherton High School freshman walks past the high school's masked bear statue during a freshman check-in day on the Atherton campus on Aug. 12. Photo by Magali Gauthier.

The smoke-filled sky glows an eerie shade of orange, as seen from Interstate 280 looking from Sand Hill Road north toward Woodside on Sept. 9; Costaño Elementary School kindergartner Matthias looks up from a white board in a classroom at the Boys and Girls Club in East Palo Alto on Sept. 16. After schools closed their campuses, nonprofits stepped in to offer some children a supervised place to study. Photos by Magali Gauthier.

Gina Hampton arranges Kathy Berra’s hair at DJ’s Hair Design Inc. in Menlo Park on July 8. Hair salons were among many businesses that struggled when state health orders forced periodic closures; Flora Sosa cleans a shelf at Draeger’s Market in Menlo Park on March 16, as the grocery store stepped up its cleaning practices during the pandemic. Photos by Magali Gauthier.

Rickey McLane wears a shirt that lists the names of black people, a majority of whom were killed by police, during a protest in East Palo Alto on June 12. Photo by Magali Gauthier.

Menlo-Atherton High School sophomore Lily Martin and freshman Lauren Wago spar during a training clinic on Jan. 4. Student athletes were sidelined by the pandemic for most of 2020; The Rev. Ted Magpayo shares a prayer during an outdoor mass at Church of the Nativity in Menlo Park on Aug. 6. Photos by Magali Gauthier.

Hannah Gallagher teaches fourth and fifth grade students in an outdoor classroom space at Synapse private school in Menlo Park on Sept. 16; The Statue of Liberty replica, typically inside Buck's Restaurant, stands in the outdoor dining area with a mask over her face in Woodside on July 31. Photos by Magali Gauthier.

Andy Kerr of Alice’s Restaurant chats with a group of firefighters who just finished a shift battling the CZU Complex fires, as part of his daily food delivery rounds behind the fire lines on Aug. 25. Photo by Magali Gauthier.

A Woodside High School graduate waves to Principal Diane Burbank during the car parade through the school’s parking lot on June 5, after health mandates made traditional graduation ceremonies impossible; Hundreds of demonstrators kneel for nine minutes of silence in memory of George Floyd at a protest at Burgess Park in Menlo Park on June 1. Photos by Magali Gauthier.

Email Chief Visual Journalist Magali Gauthier at [email protected]

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A world turned upside down: Documenting an unreal year in photos

by / Almanac

Uploaded: Fri, Jan 8, 2021, 11:11 am

The past 12 months have been unlike any other. As the Almanac’s visual journalist captured this historic, life-changing year that included weeks of civil protests, unprecedented fires and a pandemic that transformed everyday life, their images reflect a range of unfamiliar and sometimes surreal moments that shaped 2020.

When viewed together, these images reveal just how much life has changed over the past 12 months. Photos predating the Bay Area's stay-at-home health order in mid-March feel like they were taken during another era, in a different world. In January, it was strange to see someone wearing a mask; by midyear, it was disconcerting to see someone who wasn't. No sooner had we adapted to this strange stay-at-home life than people in every community mobilized and took to the streets. Hundreds of local residents peacefully protested against social injustice to draw attention to racism toward Black community members, and call for meaningful change in policing practices.

We were forced indoors again when wildfire smoke choked the air and turned the sky orange, taking away the outdoor dining and recreation that served as a lifeline for many. Families with children were hit hard when schools and daycares closed, teaching moved online, graduations became drive-thru and the first day of school was marked by temperature checks, hand sanitizer and socially distanced desks.

We saw residents who rose above these challenging times, like Alice's Restaurant co-owner Andy Kerr, who delivered meals to first responders combating the CZU Lightning Complex fires in the Santa Cruz Mountains. And there are images of hope and the possible return to normalcy as some of the first recipients rolled up their sleeves to get the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine.

Here are those moments that illustrate how our community persevered through this trying year.

Email Chief Visual Journalist Magali Gauthier at [email protected]

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