The year in photos: COVID-19 colored the images that defined life in 2021 on the Midpeninsula

Parents watch their kindergarteners from a distance on the first day of the new school year at Laurel School in Atherton on Aug. 19, 2021. Photo by Magali Gauthier.

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The year in photos: COVID-19 colored the images that defined life in 2021 on the Midpeninsula

Parents watch their kindergarteners from a distance on the first day of the new school year at Laurel School in Atherton on Aug. 19, 2021. Photo by Magali Gauthier.

As chief visual journalist at The Almanac, my coverage of the pandemic took a turning point in January 2021. With vaccinations against COVID-19 starting to be administered, knowing that the vulnerable people I was photographing were now protected from the deadly virus felt like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders.

I had spent most of the previous year worrying that I could catch, carry and spread the virus without knowing it.

While I no longer methodically sanitized my camera equipment and showered and changed my clothes at the end of each work day, I continued double masking wherever I went, and the majority of my shoots stayed outdoors.

Burned trees with new growth stand behind Gov. Gavin Newsom during a press conference at Big Basin Redwoods State Park in Boulder Creek on Aug. 17, 2021. Photo by Magali Gauthier.

By the spring, I had gotten my two doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, which gave me access to spaces and situations I hadn't been in for over a year. In May, I photographed hundreds of Menlo-Atherton High School seniors dancing at their outdoor prom. The next week, I was making images of modified graduation ceremonies.

In the second half of the year, after California reopened, my coverage started reflecting a community that was joyously, yet cautiously adapting. I captured a group of vaccinated friends hanging out at the Pioneer Saloon in Woodside. In the fall, I photographed students and staff returning to campuses full time for in-person classes. Some of my coverage even diverged from the pandemic-related news cycle. In August, I covered Gov. Gavin Newsom's visit to Big Basin Redwoods State Park to survey the damage caused by the 2019 CZU Lightning Complex fires.

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Things aren't back to the way they were, obviously, and it feels like the "new normal" (excuse the overused phrase) may actually be upon us. We're living in a world where there is a constant threat of new COVID-19 variants, such as omicron, but we've adapted to it and are able to do many of the things we did pre-pandemic.

These images illustrate how our community has come back together over the last 12 months to celebrate, learn, protest, support and create. Take a look.

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Kindergarten teacher Ruth Cuellar gives Regina some hand sanitizer before entering the classroom on the first day of school at Los Robles-Ronald McNair Academy in East Palo Alto on Aug. 25, 2021; David Steenson, Brynda Olson and Kelley Wathen have a drink with friends at the Pioneer Saloon in Woodside on July 22, 2021. Photos by Magali Gauthier.

Elizabeth McCarthy glues "protein spikes" made out of paper straws and pompoms onto her coronavirus piƱatas on April 26, 2021. Photo by Magali Gauthier.

Ken Clark reads a book in the main library in Menlo Park on July 22, 2021. Both city library locations opened for indoor access on July 6; Varsity tennis player junior Callista Mille plays doubles with junior Lila Motamedi against Carlmont High School at Menlo-Atherton High School on Feb. 25, 2021. Photos by Magali Gauthier.

Ornella Tchoumie passes a box to Lauren Shaub down a conveyor belt at the Community Mobile Market warehouse Facebook is leasing in Redwood City on June 22, 2021. The boxes are filled with fresh produce and other goods; Theodore "Teddy" Jester, 6, looks at his mother while receiving his first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine from licensed vocational nurse Erica Smith at a clinic at Las Lomitas Elementary School in Atherton on Nov. 10, 2021. Photos by Magali Gauthier.

Seniors Emery Goldberg, Alexandra Gonzalez, Sophie Glinder and Kayli Smith pose together at the Menlo-Atherton High School outdoor prom on May 7, 2021. Photo by Magali Gauthier.

A protester holds a sign outside the Sequoia Union High School District office demanding campuses reopen for in-person learning once San Mateo County enters the state's "red tier" in Redwood City on Feb. 23, 2021; Nicki Poulos, co-owner of Ann's Coffee Shop, speaks with customer Steve Mercer on on April 7, 2021, the last day the 75-year-old Menlo Park institution was open. Photos by Magali Gauthier.

Michael Thompson looks through "The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins" by Dr. Seuss, his godfather, in his Redwood City home on March 8, 2021; Graduate Jena Hollister uses bobby pins to fasten Katie Kwan's cap to her hair before the Woodside High School graduation on June 4, 2021. Photos by Magali Gauthier.

Sharona Wolff uses a torch to fuse 0.5 millimeter-wide 22-karat gold balls onto a larger piece of gold in the studio she works out of at the Allied Arts Guild in Menlo Park on Nov. 29, 2021. Photo by Magali Gauthier.

Magali Gauthier captures photos and videos for the Palo Alto Weekly, the Mountain View Voice and The Almanac newspapers. She runs the Voice's and the Almanac's Instagram accounts. Read more >>

Follow AlmanacNews.com and The Almanac on Twitter @almanacnews, Facebook and on Instagram @almanacnews for breaking news, local events, photos, videos and more.

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The year in photos: COVID-19 colored the images that defined life in 2021 on the Midpeninsula

by / Almanac

Uploaded: Thu, Dec 30, 2021, 11:53 am

As chief visual journalist at The Almanac, my coverage of the pandemic took a turning point in January 2021. With vaccinations against COVID-19 starting to be administered, knowing that the vulnerable people I was photographing were now protected from the deadly virus felt like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders.

I had spent most of the previous year worrying that I could catch, carry and spread the virus without knowing it.

While I no longer methodically sanitized my camera equipment and showered and changed my clothes at the end of each work day, I continued double masking wherever I went, and the majority of my shoots stayed outdoors.

By the spring, I had gotten my two doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, which gave me access to spaces and situations I hadn't been in for over a year. In May, I photographed hundreds of Menlo-Atherton High School seniors dancing at their outdoor prom. The next week, I was making images of modified graduation ceremonies.

In the second half of the year, after California reopened, my coverage started reflecting a community that was joyously, yet cautiously adapting. I captured a group of vaccinated friends hanging out at the Pioneer Saloon in Woodside. In the fall, I photographed students and staff returning to campuses full time for in-person classes. Some of my coverage even diverged from the pandemic-related news cycle. In August, I covered Gov. Gavin Newsom's visit to Big Basin Redwoods State Park to survey the damage caused by the 2019 CZU Lightning Complex fires.

Things aren't back to the way they were, obviously, and it feels like the "new normal" (excuse the overused phrase) may actually be upon us. We're living in a world where there is a constant threat of new COVID-19 variants, such as omicron, but we've adapted to it and are able to do many of the things we did pre-pandemic.

These images illustrate how our community has come back together over the last 12 months to celebrate, learn, protest, support and create. Take a look.

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