What matters to you.

2020 Year In Portraits

The People We Met In A Year Like No Other

Three months into 2020, the world shut down. A pandemic upended daily life as streets emptied, schools closed and businesses shuttered. Millions lost jobs. Our health care system was tested like never before. And more than 300,000 Americans lost their lives, including over 11,000 here in Massachusetts.

The pandemic also exacerbated existing inequities in our society, as those already struggling battled additional challenges: isolation, a lack of resources, profound levels of stress and deep personal loss. COVID-19 exposed long-standing stresses within and among our communities. We experienced a national racial reckoning in the wake of police killings of Black men and women, a rise in unrest around the country and an ever-deepening political and social divide.

Few events in our lifetimes have had a greater impact on the lives of so many. The 28 portraits featured here offer a window into some of those lives; their stories are both unique and representative of 2020's legacy.

Please have a look, a read and a listen.

- Meredith Nierman, Director of Photography

This year we continue to highlight the need for photographs to be more accessible to those who can’t see. We have partnered with GBH’s National Center for Accessible Media to present you with a more accessible “Year in Portraits.” Each photo below is accompanied by a caption and an audio description. The audio description puts into words key visual elements of each photo for people who are blind or have low vision. A text transcript of each image description is also available for people who are deaf or hard of hearing.

Find more information about descriptive audio and screen readers and see a list of credits.

Jon Santiago.jpg
Elijah and Elizabeth leaning against a car.
Juliana Perry sits on her front porch.
A woman sitting on a stoop.
A woman, small child and young man sitting on the front stairs of a house.
Two men standing on a street with their hands in their pockets.jpg
Two young men standing next to their bicycles.
A woman leaning against a railing.
Two young woman sitting on a bench at a softball field.
A man sitting on a chair in front of a home.
Man standing in front of record store.
A mother and son sit in chairs on a porch.
A woman stands above her young son who is sitting in a chair on a porch.
A young woman sitting at a desk.
A young woman holding up a political sign.
Two people sitting on a couch.
Young man holding up photo of elderly man.
A young man sitting at a desk.
A man sitting at a desk in a lecture hall.
A woman giving a thumbs up after getting a vaccine.