As photographers at the University of Michigan, there are certain things we are accustomed to photographing: football games at the Big House, Central Student Government, President Schlissel and general happenings around Ann Arbor. This year was different. We asked our photographers to share their favorite photos from the past year along with an explanation as to why they found that particular photo meaningful. In many of these photos, individuals are wearing face masks, a reflection of the reality we are faced with. But even though we had to cover our mouths, we seem to have found our voice.
Julia Schachinger–Senior Sports Photo Editor
The Michigan–OSU hockey game was the first big sporting event that I had the opportunity to photograph for The Michigan Daily, so it holds a special place in my heart. It reminds me of simpler times, when fans could attend sporting events. I will never forget the atmosphere in Yost; I’m hoping that it will return soon.
Sophia Afendoulis–Assistant Photo Editor
For some reason, I was dreading this event. Nothing about being surrounded by a large crowd of people sounded fun to me. It was a cold Friday afternoon. As someone who values naps, that was all I wanted to do after a long week. But at the event, I was able to capture some really cool shots, including this one of Reggie. This photo has always stuck out to me. Little did I know, this would be the last large social gathering I would attend for the rest of the year. Pre-COVID, I didn’t think much about events like these, and I often treated them like a chore. Looking back on the fall semester and this year as a whole, I would do anything to regain a sense of normalcy, whether that be photographing a packed event or going to a sports game. To me, this photo represents how much we have had to re-evaluate our priorities since the beginning of this pandemic. Stylistically, I think this photo makes Reggie seem almost human, which I love. Nevertheless, the story behind the photo is what is most meaningful to me.
Paulina Rajski–Staff Photographer
I chose this image because it represents some of the best moments of 2020 for me. 2020 was an especially unique and difficult year, but I think it is important to focus on all of the great things that I did experience and how I grew as a person. In 2020, I joined The Michigan Daily where I got to attend cool events on campus, including the iPlay wellness event with this super cute therapy dog.
Allison Engkvist–Managing Photo Editor
I took this photo just days before campus shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Not only was Sen. Bernie Sanders’ rally the biggest event I photographed, but it was the last real event I experienced before months of lockdown and quarantining. Thousands of us gathered on the Diag on our last day of spring break, not a mask in site, taking for granted what it felt like to feel normal. The photo itself will forever be one of my favorites, as I captured just the right moment of the posters framing Sanders. While I’m still awed that I got to see Sanders this close in person, I also look back to this day and think of the crowd on the Diag, completely unaware that our lives would be changing just a few short days later.
Asha Lewis–Audience Engagement Managing Editor and Staff Photographer
I chose this specific photo because this was truly a night to remember. Not only was this the last event I shot before the University shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but it was also the night before Joe Biden won the Michigan primary, setting him up to win Super Tuesday, becoming the Democratic Party’s presidential nominee and eventually winning the presidential election in November. Then-senator Kamala Harris joined him on stage that night which was momentous for me personally because, as a mixed-race South Asian woman, it’s rare to see someone who looks like me on stage with the future President of the United States, let alone as Vice President. (I realized the gravity of this moment shortly before the other photographers and I entered the buffer when rumors began to mount that Harris was going to be Biden’s pick for vice president.)
Although unaware of the tumult that would face them in the next few months — the COVID-19 pandemic that Whitmer would have to fend off with policies that angered some enough to plot to kidnap her, protests for racial justice and equality led in part by Booker, and the election of Biden and Harris to the White House after a record-breaking election — here they are, on stage, together. And that unity is what has kept us going through 2020.
Miles Macklin–Senior Audience & Engagement Photo Editor
Just moments before the tip-off of the Michigan–Rutgers Big Ten men’s basketball tournament 1st round matchup, Bankers Life Field House was virtually empty; all you could hear was the squeaky sound of players’ shoes colliding with the court. Moments later the sports world stopped, and the tournament was canceled. Just like that, COVID-19 took control of our lives.
Maria Deckmann–Staff Photographer
I took this photo while in quarantine this summer. I found that getting outside and spending more time in the sun was a really good way to keep a positive mindset. I had lots of time to experiment with different outdoor photography styles and techniques, and I realized that I loved the effect of the lens ball. I like how the photo’s subject is absorbed into the little orb — it’s like you are holding your subject in your hand!
Becca Mahon–Senior Statement Photo Editor
This photo is from mid-April, around the peak of what most of us would consider the “big quarantine.” At the time, Michigan Medicine was running low on masks and other personal protective equipment, while cases were beginning to skyrocket and ICU beds were quickly filling up. A group of about a dozen healthcare workers stood in a socially distanced line outside of the hospital, calling for safer working conditions, government support, and more PPE in order to safely care for COVID-19 patients. This act of unity was really moving to witness, especially considering what hospital workers were going through.
Annie Klusendorf–2020 Managing Photo Editor
Freedom Jacques, in the black baseball cap, is an Ann Arbor resident who studied criminal law and philosophy at Western Michigan University and came to the march with her son, center. She spoke at length with the Chief in front of the protestors and continued the conversation after the crowd had left. She gave consent for both her and her son to be photographed and posted without concealing their identities.
I chose this photo because it was a very intense moment to be part of, and I think a lot of people will look at this photograph in different ways. I personally see the boy’s expression first, which I perceive to be one of doubt — is this officer kneeling for the right reasons? What conversations has he had with his mother about moments like this? Will he grow up into a future that’s different? Will the officer walk away from this protest and actually institute change in Ypsilanti, or was this all for show? I wish I could answer these questions and say yes, change will come and it will be good. But nobody can know that, and that’s a message I’m taking away from this year.
Michael Bagazinski–Staff Photographer
Bristol is famous for its Independence Day celebration that dates back to 1785. Normally, close to 200,000 people flock to Bristol to celebrate. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s parade was scaled back with many participants and onlookers asked to stay home. Despite the cuts, many familiar faces carried on the town’s historic tradition.
Gabby Ceritano–Assistant Photo Editor
The peacefulness I felt while taking this photo while floating on a boat in the middle of Lake Ann is unmatched. As summer 2020 came to a close and anticipation for the new virtual semester grew, my family decided to go up north for a week. I felt calm and truly happy for the first time in a while, and it allowed me to really take a break from all the madness ensuing around me.
Maddie Fox–Assistant Photo Editor
This photo captures one of the many protests that were organized by the non-profit group Survivors Speak in Ann Arbor this summer. Community members, activists and local elected officials of all ages and races gave speeches on racial inequality and injustice before leading a march through downtown Ann Arbor. This photo was taken at the corner of State St. and E. Williams St. as the group paused the march to lead various call and response chants like “no more knees on our neck” and “no more bullet holes in our back.” Perhaps what was most striking about this protest was the stark juxtaposition between the high energy, passionate group marching down the streets and the wide array of maskless, mostly white brunch goers dining outdoors lining the sidewalks and streets.
Jarett Orr–Staff Photographer
This photo was taken on Aug. 30 at the student-athlete BLM protest on the Diag in the wake of Ahmaud Arbery’s death. It was the day after I arrived on campus, and I had to be there to document the event. Many students felt a great deal of anxiety and anger during the summer, which was coming to a close with no clear resolution. That moment was a pivotal event in our generation’s development, and such an event had to be recorded for future generations, or at least for ourselves to remind us what that summer felt like. This photograph in particular strikes me as representative of the year. The woman is wearing a mask, evidence of the pandemic which ravaged the world in 2020. Her mask has the words “Black Lives Matter” painted on it, evidence of the movement which swept across the country this summer. The sign held in the background, “You’ve Fucked With the Last Generation,” conveyed the emotions many students felt at the time: pain and anger at the injustices witnessed daily, but also hope for the future.
Maddie Hinkley–Managing Photo Editor
Our school year started with worries about the pandemic, but one unexpected turn was the decision to strike made by many groups on campus just mere days into the semester. I was able to photograph one of the largest events that GEO held, which started at the Union and marched around campus to the Rackham building, then back to the Union. On the way, the march passed Mosher-Jordan to pick up the striking dining hall workers who had just left their shifts. There were tons of other photographers and videographers around me ahead of the protest line, and I remember jumping up on a bench to try and get a better angle of the protest, and this is when I got this shot. I was running back and forth closer and farther from the marchers to see different sides of this momentous occasion on campus and had no idea whether any of the shots were going to turn out good. Seeing this photo months later with everyone wearing masks yet standing united to make a change, perfectly represents this semester and year for me: a whirlwind of emotions hand-in-hand with a unity of the world.
Alec Cohen–Staff Photographer
I think this photo represents power. The power that people can have coming together and standing up for their beliefs. I believe speaking up for what’s important to you is vital, and members of different University groups coming together showed a powerful community.
Emma Mati–Senior Multimedia Photo Editor
I took this photo at a President Donald Trump rally in Lansing, Mich. in late-October. It was a cold and rainy day. Nevertheless, Trump supporters gathered in mass to see the president less than a week before the national election. When I arrived at the venue, it was still dark out. But Trump supporters were already in line to enter the rally that would not begin until 2 p.m. As I meandered through the crowd, I came across this young girl leaning against the barricades waiting in line with her father. What I love about this photograph is how this girl looks directly into the lens of the camera. Even though she is surrounded by thousands of people, she seems to be the only one there. I always wonder what she was thinking about when I took this photo. How will she remember this day 10 or 20 years from now?
Jeremy Weine–Assistant Photo Editor
After sitting through this year’s tense election night, I was ecstatic to have the opportunity to photograph the “Count Every Vote” rally on the Diag on Nov. 4. At the time of the rally, several key states, including Michigan, had not yet declared a winner. President Trump had already taken to Twitter calling for a cessation of vote-counting in battleground states, where he suggested widespread election fraud had occurred. Socially-distanced Biden supporters gathered near the steps of the Hatcher Graduate Library to demand that each vote be counted. Michigan students and Ann Arbor residents cheered, sang and listened to speakers in the soft late-afternoon light. At one point, protesters took part in a short meditative exercise. After 24 hours of breath-holding and news-watching, it was beautiful to see people get outside, stretch their legs and exhale. Toward the end of the rally, most major news outlets called Michigan for Biden.
Tess Crowley–Staff Photographer
This photo represents 2020 in more than one way. It represents a year of triumphs and tribulations. It represents love and togetherness. It represents the subtleties of the division felt between groups of people nationwide. There are metaphysical dividing lines present in the photo. A man waits patiently at the cross-walk for the light to turn green instead of engaging in the celebration. A maskless woman is absorbed in a world of her own as she looks at her phone. Conversely, a family in the middle of a photoshoot decides to join the students celebrating Biden’s victory while their photographer takes advantage of the moment. Students hold up signs as they chant and yell at the cars and passerbys. A year of gloom fades to the background when I look at the triumphant, smiling faces – apparent even with a mask on – of people young and old, from a variety of different backgrounds, coming together to celebrate a common cause. While still standing in the shadows, the sun bathes these people with the bright light of the near future.
Luke Hales–Assistant Photo Editor
This was the first sports game I covered for The Daily. Media has to work under less-than-ideal conditions during the pandemic, and we were pushed off the baseline into the low-level seats. I missed the low angles, but I was still able to get a good shot where the block M overpowers the background of Dickinson’s dunk.
Dominick Sokotoff–Staff Photographer
This photo was taken on the second day of COVID-19 vaccinations for health care workers. The vaccinations mark the beginning of the end of a devastating year amid the pandemic, and witnessing the tremendous relief and joy brought by these vaccinations is a moment I’ll never forget. For too long, the end of the pandemic wasn’t in sight, and I’m glad that these will be some of my last photos that I have to take of this pandemic.