Our annual tradition of showcasing the year’s top photograph started in 2015, something nice and easily digestible for the holidays – at least it used to be.

Typically, this isn’t the kind of project I would sit on and avoid. Flipping through each month’s archive every year feels kind of like the satisfying sensation of slowly peeling off that translucent light blue plastic film that protects new appliances. Just a delight.

2020 obviously has been very different. This time I dreaded the idea of having to look back through our archives this year.

I put it off for as long as I could, and when I eventually started, I found myself able to take only bite-sized nibbles before needing a healthy distraction.

That’s kind of what almost every day has felt like this year, hasn’t it? We are continually reminded of the sorrow and the pain we are all feeling. So we binge-watch “Tiger King,” or make a loaf of sourdough bread, or walk our dog down random neighborhood streets for hours that normally wouldn’t tick by so slowly.

As photojournalists, our job could be boiled down to simply “being there when it really counts.” We’ve never shied away from that responsibility, even when our health and personal safety were at stake, and we are committed to doing the same in 2021.

January

Arturo Ramos Jr., owner of Ramos Boxing Team, holds his grandson Jackson, 1, as he watches boxing practice in the ring at his gym. Credit: Bonnie Arbittier / San Antonio Report
Cruz Ortiz has decided to move to Houston to expand into a bigger art market. Credit: Scott Ball / San Antonio Report
U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue eats lunch with Castle Hills Elementary School students. Credit: Bonnie Arbittier / San Antonio Report

February

Volunteers build Habitat for Humanity homes in the Lenwood Heights subdivision on San Antonio’s West Side. Credit: Logan Riely for the San Antonio Report
A woman carries a piñata on the streets of Laredo near a U.S.-Mexico border crossing. Credit: Scott Ball / San Antonio Report
Sen. Bernie Sanders addresses a rally at Cowboys Dancehall and claims victory in the Nevada caucuses. Credit: Scott Ball / San Antonio Report
A member of the San Antonio Fire Department walks near the scene of a fire at Webhead offices. Credit: Scott Ball / San Antonio Report
Presidential candidate U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren addresses supporters at Sunset Station. Credit: Scott Ball / San Antonio Report

March

A plane carrying 98 evacuees from the coronavirus-stricken Grand Princess cruise ship lands at Kelly Field. Credit: Bonnie Arbittier / San Antonio Report
Millions of Americans find themselves suddenly in financial turmoil as the coronavirus spreads and forces businesses to shutter. Credit: Scott Ball / San Antonio Report

“I was on deadline during this early stage of the pandemic and struggling with how best to show the early shockwaves caused by this invisible virus. In an act of visual desperation, I took a late night drive and came upon this scene. The gesture was simple, but the road ahead for so many of us was not. During this time in 2020, this image maybe hits at what so many of us were feeling: out of control and scared.”

Scott Ball
Employees of the Audie Murphy Memorial Veterans’ Hospital are screened as they arrive for work. COVID-19 had claimed three lives in San Antonio. Credit: Scott Ball / San Antonio Report
Shoppers head out with with 90 rolls of bath tissue, one of many items in high demand around the country. Credit: Scott Ball / San Antonio Report
Childhood nutrition employee Gloria Nava hands out bagged lunches to families from East Central Independent School District as schools continue to make meals available to students and families. Credit: Scott Ball / San Antonio Report

April

Tamaya and Jaivon Cuffin visit with family member Yolanda Cuffin through a window on her 64th birthday when 12 cases of coronavirus had been confirmed at the Southeast Nursing and Rehabilitation Center. Yolanda Cuffin died the following month. Credit: Scott Ball / San Antonio Report
Covid Drive Up Lab is parked at the Buck & Doe’s Mercantile parking lot to test patients for coronavirus. Credit: Bonnie Arbittier / San Antonio Report
Selena Hernandez, 8, a third grade student at Escondido Elementary School at Judson ISD, logs on to the family computer for her first virtual class. Credit: Scott Ball / San Antonio Report
Residential Center for Veterans residents have their temperatures taken after staff members tested positive for coronavirus. Credit: Bonnie Arbittier / San Antonio Report
An aerial view of the San Antonio Food Bank's "mega distribution" site Friday shows vehicles lined up by the hundreds in the Alamodome parking lot to pick up two weeks' worth of groceries.
Vehicles line up by the hundreds to pick up two weeks’ worth of groceries at San Antonio Food Bank’s “mega distribution” site at the Alamodome. Credit: Logan Riely for the San Antonio Report

“I had heard it was going to be large but was not expecting cars to cover entire lots. From the air, you can get a clearer perspective of how the city and communities are affected.”

Logan Riely
InfoWars founder Alex Jones demands that Texas lead the nation and reopen businesses as hundreds gather at the Texas Capitol in a ‘You Can’t Close America’ rally. Credit: Scott Ball / San Antonio Report

May

Demonstrators march through downtown San Antonio after the killing of George Floyd by police in Minneapolis, which has sparked protests across the nation. Credit: Scott Ball / San Antonio Report
Maria Gonzales, 56, is tested for COVID-19 at Woodlawn Lake Park.
Maria Gonzales, 56, is tested for COVID-19 at Woodlawn Lake Park. Credit: Scott Ball / San Antonio Report
Advanced Learning Academy senior Carla Garcia talks to her friends via Zoom while celebrating prom in her backyard. Credit: Bonnie Arbittier / San Antonio Report
InfoWars host Owen Shroyer is removed from City Council chambers. Shroyer was protesting the Council’s denouncement of hate speech. Credit: Scott Ball / San Antonio Report
The Air Force Thunderbirds fly in formation above the University Hospital parking garage during a national tour honoring health care workers. Credit: Scott Ball / San Antonio Report

June

Trevor Taylor holds up his fist while marching in a Black Lives Matter protest to Travis Park. Credit: Scott Ball / San Antonio Report
Protesters who walked to Alamo Plaza days after the killing of George Floyd were met with tear gas and projectiles after a brief standoff with police. Credit: Bonnie Arbittier / San Antonio Report

“The appearance of calm belies what happened just moments before. Police officers sprayed wooden bullets and tear gas into a crowd of young people next to the Alamo during a protest in the aftermath of the murder of George Floyd.”

Bonnie Arbittier
Socially distanced graduation candidates attend South San High School’s graduation ceremony at Alamo Stadium. Credit: Scott Ball / San Antonio Report
Alamo Conservator Pam Rosser removes graffiti from the Cenotaph in Alamo Plaza. Credit: Bonnie Arbittier / San Antonio Report
People at Pittman-Sullivan Park place lit candles in cups displaying the names of Black Americans killed by police officers. Credit: Bonnie Arbittier / San Antonio Report
A nurse at the Methodist Hospital COVID-19 ICU checks on a patient through the glass doors of the room. Credit: Scott Ball / San Antonio Report
Japhet ‘Ibamino’ McKenzie sheds tears as he listens to fellow Black protesters speak about racial inequities and injustice. Credit: Scott Ball / San Antonio Report
A Black Lives Matter protester raises his fist in solidarity toward inmates at Bexar County’s Justice Intake Center. Credit: Bonnie Arbittier / San Antonio Report

July

City officials and contractors lower a statue of Christopher Columbus onto a trailer bed after the City approved its removal. Credit: Scott Ball / San Antonio Report
Fireworks bust in the air as children watch from atop their parents’ car in South Bexar County the night before Independence Day. Credit: Scott Ball / San Antonio Report
Deborah Martinez’s children wrote a message on their car for Martinez, who lost her life to COVID-19. Credit: Bonnie Arbittier / San Antonio Report

August

Streets surrounding Travis Park are painted with a verse written by San Antonio poet laureate Andrea “Vocab” Sanderson: “Jubilant and exuberant is the melanin of our skin / From despair we have arisen.” Credit: Logan Riely for the San Antonio Report
Antronie Scott Jr. is comforted during a memorial for his father, who was killed by a San Antonio police officer in 2016. Credit: Bria Woods for the San Antonio Report
Vehicles on Wurzbach Parkway pass under the Robert L.B. Tobin Land Bridge, under construction at Phil Hardberger Park. Credit: Logan Riely for the San Antonio Report
Protesters block sheriff’s deputies’ cars from exiting the premises of the Bexar County Sheriff’s Office and Detention Center. Credit: Bonnie Arbittier / San Antonio Report

September

A young boy wearing a Keep America Great cap yells in support of President Donald Trump. Credit: Bonnie Arbittier / San Antonio Report
MOVE Texas volunteers (left to right from upper left) Tiger Hill, Valerie Reiffert, Maddie Carrola, Brandon James, Hema Bhakta, Bhaskar Bhakta, Luke Rosenberger, Tania Chambers, Stacey Gilfillan, Jon Conley, Keely Stout, Don Khan, George Zachery, Michael Gorman, and Tania Rickett.
MOVE Texas volunteers (from left, top row) Tiger Hill, Valerie Reiffert, Maddie Carrola, Brandon James, Hema Bhakta, (middle row) Bhaskar Bhakta, Luke Rosenberger, Tania Chambers, Stacey Gilfillan, Jon Conley, (bottom row) Keely Stout, Don Khan, George Zachery, Michael Gorman, and Tania Rickett. Credit: Composite – Scott Ball / San Antonio Report
Somerset free safety Joseph Flores (left) holds his teammate Isaiah Valdez during a moment of silence honoring coaches Sonny Detmer and Marvin Allen, who died earlier in the week. Credit: Scott Ball / San Antonio Report
Jean Shaw (left) and Jennifer Caffery of San Antonio raise their fists in honor of the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Credit: Stephanie Marquez for the San Antonio Report

“Although the images I captured that evening clearly show a community in mourning, I feel they also convey a glimmer of hope with what had been an already difficult year for most – people coming together to celebrate her life but more importantly to continue her work, united in solidarity.”

Stephanie Marquez
Without home internet, the Lopez family utilizes Wi-Fi from a Southside ISD school bus parked on a vacant lot along U.S. Highway 281. Credit: Scott Ball / San Antonio Report

October

A line of voters spills into the parking lot at one of the new mega-voting sites, the Alzafar Shrine Auditorium. Credit: Scott Ball / San Antonio Report
A horned lizard is released into the wild after being bred in captivity at the San Antonio Zoo. Credit: Scott Ball / San Antonio Report
The demolition of the former Bexar County jail continues. Credit: Logan Riely for the San Antonio Report

November

Supporters gather in downtown San Antonio to celebrate the calling of the 2020 presidential election for Democrat Joe Biden. Credit: Stephanie Marquez for the San Antonio Report
Joe Garza, secretary of the Log Cabin Republicans of San Antonio. Credit: Bonnie Arbittier / San Antonio Report
Jacquline Caldwell stands on her SUV rallying protesters outside the home of David Nisivoccia, the CEO of the San Antonio Housing Authority. Credit: Bria Woods for the San Antonio Report

“There was an undeniable atmosphere of community pride in this moment. I felt their growing desire to be heard and seen.” 

Bria Woods
A machine vends personal protective equipment near the TSA security line at San Antonio International Airport's Terminal A.
A machine sells personal protective equipment near the security line at San Antonio International Airport’s Terminal A. Credit: Scott Ball / San Antonio Report
Raiden Gonzalez smiles as he plays with his favorite dinosaurs in the interactive Dinos Alive exhibit from Corpus Christi.
Raiden Gonzalez,5, smiles as he plays with his favorite dinosaurs in the interactive Dinos Alive exhibit from Corpus Christi during his birthday car parade. Gonzalez lost both of his parents to COVID-19 and the community gathered to show support. Credit: Bria Woods for the San Antonio Report

December

Santa meets Alexi the dog during a holiday meet-and-greet in the Hidden Forest neighborhood. Credit: Scott Ball / San Antonio Report
The Robert B. Tobin Land Bridge has officially opened connecting the east and west ends of Phil Hardberger Park.
The Robert L.B. Tobin Land Bridge opens, connecting the east and west ends of Phil Hardberger Park. Credit: Logan Riely for the San Antonio Report
Nursing student Daniella Martinez administers a COVID-19 vaccine to UT Health San Antonio employees. Credit: Scott Ball / San Antonio Report
Ballerina Kate Thomas rehearses with the Children’s Ballet of San Antonio in The Children’s Nutcracker, which was shown virtually this year. Credit: Scott Ball / San Antonio Report
Scott Ball

Scott Ball

Scott Ball is San Antonio Report's photo editor and grew up in San Antonio.