Cam Parker, from Tampa, the local artist who painted the letter A in the Black Lives Matter street mural in front of the Carter G. Woodson African American Museum on 2240 9th Ave S., in St. Pete on Monday, July 6. [ DIRK SHADD | Times ]
Our team of visual journalists pick their most memorable pictures of the year.
During a historic year in our backyard, the nation and the world, the photographers of the Tampa Bay Times woke up each day, placed camera straps over their shoulders, grabbed their face masks and went out into what felt like a more dangerous world, never losing sight of the mission to document this moment in time.
These images were chosen by each of our photographers. Some picked favorites, others went with pictures that were memorable or impactful. Some wrote something about each photo, while others summed up their year as a visual journalist in a paragraph. Either way, you’ll find a collection of imagery that we are proud to share with you.
I had spent the week covering the monks’ creation of the sacred sand mandala — from the opening ceremony, through the labor-intensive days of laying down colored sand bit-by-bit and finally to the dissolution ceremony. People stopped by every day, some sitting quietly, others curiously looking through the windows. On the day it was finished, I made this picture of a man as he took photos of the altar, leaning over the mandala, his bag swinging on his shoulder. What you can’t see are all the people outside the window behind me gasping in unison and waving their arms. He never noticed.
Sphinx Virtuosi is an orchestra made up of Black and Latinx musicians. During their performance for visiting school children at the Dr. Carter G. Woodson African American Museum, I found it appropriate that large portraits of Dr. Martin Luther King, Mary McLeod Bethune and Malcom X were present and in the background.
During the early days of the coronavirus pandemic, I was terrified to go indoors while on assignment. There was still so much uncertainty. This couple had to cancel their entire wedding, even the cake. They opted for exchanging vows across their kitchen table with their daughter, their officiant and me as the only witnesses. In spite of my misgivings and fears, I was happy to capture this tender moment.
This retiring principal is so happy and surprised. A big caravan of people drove by, honking their horns and shouting their congratulations out the window. For me, I love the text running across the frame, the way he’s framed by the house, his pose, holding presents in both hands, and the gorgeous light on his face.
This summer I covered a lot of protests and shot many pictures that show the emotions of the social justice movement. I believe this one is hopeful – four little girls, fists in the air and a T-shirt that espouses girl power.
In a year that tested us all, my favorite pictures focused on small, specific moments of humanity, perspective and comfort.
I like this photo because it shows dignity and pride in a form of gardening that goes back thousands of years.
This is my daughter climbing a palm tree. It was a joy to watch her be brave, playful and strong in a year that challenged her, and our family.
I like this picture because it is a reminder to me that while a year is defined by its major events, it should also be defined by daily, quiet, universally human moments.
This picture was an unscripted moment during a portrait session that made me feel how wonderful it must have been to share that many years of love.
From adapting to covering stories during a pandemic to walking miles loaded with gear following protesters, the photography team stepped out of our comfort zones in 2020 and documented to the best of our ability.
Police in tactical gear lined up to defend and prevent entry to the University Mall — a moment I never thought I’d see in Tampa.
Black Lives Matter activists and supporters marched for several hours along Bayshore Blvd and throughout South Tampa protesting racism and police brutality after the killing of George Floyd. I knew the best way to capture this moment was from above, so I launched the drone and captured a portion of the thousands-deep march.
The Lightning’s Nikita Kucherov hugging the Stanley Cup is the hug we all needed in 2020.
An amazing sight to see from above as thousands of Tampa Bay Lightning fans lined the Tampa Riverwalk during a Stanley Cup boat parade that I knew I needed to capture from up high.
As a photographer who has covered the St. Petersburg Grand Prix since the first race, this image was memorable for me. After being abruptly canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic, the race returned to end its season in October. In this photo, IndyCar driver Scott Dixon kisses his wife Emma Dixon after winning the IndyCar Championship, while both wearing face masks. You can see the surrounding photographers also wearing masks. A bizarre, yet happy scene that will stand out in my memories of a crazy 2020.
Boyzell Hosey, deputy editor of photography:
This image was captured around the start of the coronavirus shutdown. My wife and I visited Bay Vista Park in St. Petersburg to catch a sunrise. As part of photographing from a safe distance, I had begun to carry around a 300mm f.2.8 telephoto lens. I told my wife that I felt like shooting a bird photo – something I had not done in quite some time. When we walked to the end of the covered small pier, I noticed how amazing the light was from the ascending sunrise. I knew in my mind that if a bird would fly just high enough in the composed view I had, it would be a special frame. When I saw a group of pelicans fluttering about and finding altitude, I just laid on the camera, hoping that I’d come close to a frame that I had imagined. After it ran, I heard from people that this image symbolized hope during uncertain times.
As the new St. Petersburg Pier started to take shape, I took a keen interested in capturing the quintessential night view. I shot from Albert Whitted Park on three consecutive nights until I felt I had it right.
A colleague who covers the local art scene told me when lighting tests would be performed on the new Janet Echelman sculpture. At first I was content with shooting it from North Straub Park, but I ventured onto the Pier property and found this more up close and intimate view.
I don’t cover breaking news as often as my staff, but the Black Lives Matter protests were an exception as the movement was almost nonstop. I said a few choice words to myself when I got caught in a huge downpour of rain while on assignment. I had parked my car several blocks away and the protestors were marching in the rain. I stopped at a taco eatery and acquired some plastic bags to put over my camera gear while I sprinted (rather, limped) to my car. Soaking wet, I drove to get a closer view of the protestors and was able to get off a few frames by lowering and raising my car window.
On Easter, when I saw familiar parishioners at my church worshiping with gloves and masks, I knew I had to document the historic moment.
My favorite image this year was a matter of good timing. I was assigned to photograph a bar in downtown St. Petersburg that was being disinfected before reopening during the coronavirus pandemic. As I walked in, I noticed a map of Florida on the back wall and a technician, dressed in a white protective suit, getting ready to fog the mural. Eureka! I had my photograph! The photo ran in the Times and was picked up by the Associated Press and the Wall Street Journal as infections increased in the state.
Another favorite is lightning streaking across the sky above St. Pete Beach and South Pasadena. I love the drama of Florida nature.
Documenting our community during a pandemic has been frightening, intense, challenging and, quite frankly, hard. The following images stuck with me in a year where bright spots were harder to come by. From photographing the importance of the Black Lives Matter movement to the contagious intensity of Tom Brady to the thrill of following the Rays to the World Series to seeing Lightning players hoist the Stanley Cup once again, being along for the journey was great. Witnessing all that our community has gone through this year has made me grateful to be able to share such important moments with our readers.
These pictures were made after the start of the coronavirus pandemic. They show that despite the virus, people still believe in their hopes and dreams. They show we are not broken and that we simply need each other to survive. More than anything else, the pictures show the persistence of the human spirit.
Chris Urso, assistant photography editor:
This year’s “dumpster fire” has yielded some amazing photography by our staff. As a photo editor, I coordinate daily visual coverage, but I do get out every once in a while to stretch my photojournalism legs. I am hoping, along with the rest of the world, that we can put the coronavirus pandemic behind us in 2021 and look forward to getting back to together with friends and family. Here are some of my favorite images from the past year.
In hindsight, 2020 doesn’t seem real. We lived through so much together, including grief and exhaustion. The moments we saw this year showed me that, although our experiences and opinions differ from one another, we will always have this year in common. We yearned for simple things we had taken for granted, raised our voices for the values we believed in and were still, in many ways, united although seemingly apart.