The events of 2020 rocked our collective world, and it reflected as much in our yearly photo selections that year: empty streets as Utah locked down for fear of the unknown, then stressful and tepid re-openings mixed with the introduction of testing and social distancing. Then, an explosion of reckoning over the death of George Floyd gripped our attention over the summer and brought Utahns face-to-face in ways we would never have imagined.
In 2021, these problems haven’t been resolved. The coronavirus continues to infect thousands every day in Utah. Conversations surrounding race and unequal treatment from those in power are revealed by numerous Tribune investigations. Yet, collectively, we used 2021 to try to escape and yearn for the normal.
As I looked through each Tribune photographer’s submissions for their best photographs of 2021, I noticed the ways that we can illustrate so many important threads from this year, on top of continuing the main themes of 2020: the state’s ongoing drought and the implications it has; homelessness and the the intimate details we can learn and appreciate from those in the community; and how sports in Utah are still a central heartbeat that can unite (or divide) us.
Scroll down to see our collection of photos of 2021 from our photographers at The Salt Lake Tribune.
A group of people, including many BYU students, shine Pride colors on the Y on the mountain above BYU in Provo on Thursday, March 4. On the anniversary of the university’s clarification that same-sex romantic behavior is “not compatible” with its rules, LGBTQ students at BYU light up the ‘Y’ in rainbow colors.
Edgar Gago, a man living on the streets of Provo, stood for a portrait on Sunday, May 16. Nicknamed “Happy Valley,” Utah County is known for the gleaming tech offices of Silicon Slopes and the tidy campuses of Brigham Young and Utah Valley universities. But scores of unsheltered people live in the county, which — despite having the state’s second largest population — doesn’t have a single homeless shelter.
La Gorce Arch in Glen Canyon on Monday, May 17. For decades, Glen Canyon’s many side canyons were submerged under the waters of Lake Powell. After 20 years of declining lake levels, the canyons are reemerging and teeming with life.
Freddie and Karina, the brother and sister of Bernardo Palacios-Carbajal, place flowers on Bernardo’s grave site at the Salt Lake City Cemetery on Wednesday, May 19. A year after the shooting of Palacios-Carbajal catalyzed a movement in Utah last year, his siblings still look for relief.
A recently resurfaced parking lot gets new paint May 25 alongside a luxury apartment complex that will be the tallest of its kind in Salt Lake City as downtown high rises continue to boom.
Angela Johnson lays some flowers on the memorial for George Floyd during a vigil marking the one year anniversary of the death of George Floyd on Tuesday, May 25. One year after the death of Floyd, Utah state leaders banned chokeholds and increased police training, but some are frustrated that more wasn’t done.
Liberty Moore, 9, blows giant soap bubbles alongside family and friends as Ogden celebrates their 32nd Annual Utah Juneteenth Festival and Holiday Commemoration at the Ogden Amphitheater on Saturday, June 19. Utahns participated in Juneteenth events and feel the day’s federal holiday designation is a ‘step in the right direction.’
A helicopter rounds up a band of wild horses in the Onaqui Herd Management Area wild horse gather on Wednesday, July 14. Utah’s Onaqui Mountains are for now largely free of wild horses — to the delight of rural county commissioners and ranchers, but to the dismay of horse lovers who revere this particular bands of free-roaming animals.
Folded up bleachers at the old Provo High School gym are covered in notes accumulated since April by people giving their reasons for getting the COVID-19 vaccine on Wednesday, July 28.
East High student Jack Atkinson, 15, checks out the flooding at his school following a torrential downpour on Sunday, Aug. 1. From Cedar City to Bountiful, heavy rain and large hail flooded streets, shut down parts of Interstate 15, and brought a deluge Sunday to Salt Lake City and much of Utah.
People sing the National Anthem under a Three Percenter flag after the Salt Lake County Council voted down Dr. Angela Dunn’s mask ordinance for K-6 students, on Thursday, Aug. 12.
Herman Schildt, member of the Blackfeet Tribe, right, greets Damon Polk, member of the San Carlos Apache and Quechan Indian Tribe at the 41st Annual Paiute Indian Tribe of Utah Restoration Gathering Aug. 13 in Cedar City. People from Native American tribes throughout the West showed their regalia in Cedar City at the Paiute Indian Tribe of Utah’s 41st Annual Restoration Gathering.
The Parleys Canyon Fire burns on Saturday, Aug. 14, 2021. The fire forced thousands of evacuations in Salt Lake and Summit Counties and burned 541 acres.
Family members at a vigil at the State Capitol for Staff Sgt. Taylor Hoover on Sunday, Aug. 29. Hoover, a graduate of Hillcrest High, was one of 13 American soldiers killed in a suicide bombing in Kabul, Afghanistan.
A young boy waves as he rides a full shuttle down the canyon from Zion Lodge, Sept. 25. Zion is the third-most popular national park in the U.S., behind the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Yellowstone National Park, and a rise in tourism comes with headaches for officials at Zion.
Becky Crumbo, with her dogs Samwise and Bodhi, becomes emotional as she reminiscences about her husband Kim, pictured in 2010, on Nov. 4. Kim Crumbo, the Utah conservationist, and his half-brother were on a four-night canoe excursion in Yellowstone National Park in September when a storm struck them. Crumbo remains missing.
Brittany Tichenor-Cox, center, joined by her sister Jasmine Rhodes, right, speaks about her daughter Izzy Tichenor on Nov. 9. Hundreds joined the Tichenor family in mourning the death of 10-year-old Isabella “Izzy” Tichenor during a vigil at Foxboro Hollow Park in North Salt Lake on Tuesday. Tichenor took her own life on Nov. 6th after repeated bullying at her Davis County school for being Black and autistic.
A chair is left behind on the south shore of the Great Salt Lake as seen near Saltair, Tuesday, Dec. 7. Persistent drought has reduced lake levels to historic lows as the shoreline continues to recede.
Fred Rivers is comforted by Tori Dixon at a vigil for 117 people who died in Salt Lake City while experiencing homelessness in the last year, on Tuesday, Dec. 21.
The Great Salt Lake as seen near the Spiral Jetty, Wednesday, Dec. 22. The lake was named The Tribune’s 2021 Utahn of the Year.
A woman covers herself with a blanket under an overpass, trying to stay out of the snow, on Tuesday, Dec. 28. Utah doesn’t have enough shelter beds for people without homes, but these individuals can’t legally camp in the city.
Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell (45) soaks Jordan Clarkson (00) in the middle of his postgame interview after Clarkson’s 40-point game on Monday, Feb. 15.
Ryan Simons commits and keeps a solid hold of the rope despite his effort going sideways just feet from the finish line during the annual Skijoring competition at Soldier Hollow on Saturday, Feb. 20.
Zeb Hansen gets a sendoff from his family before competing at Punishment at the Peak, a demolition derby in Grantsville on Saturday, Aug. 7.
Corner Canyon fans brave the lashing rain as they return to the stadium after a 40 minute rain delay, as the Corner Canyon Chargers defeated the East Leopards, on Saturday, Aug. 21.
Fans storm the field as the Brigham Young Cougars defeat the Utah Utes 26-17, at Lavell Edwards Stadium in Provo, on Saturday, Sept. 11, snapping a nine-game losing streak in football.
Brigham Young Cougars linebacker Chaz Ah You (3) tackles Boise State Broncos running back Cyrus Habibi-Likio (4) as BYU hosts Boise State at LaVell Edwards Stadium, Oct. 9.
Rowland Hall-St. Marks celebrates Camryn Kennedy’s penalty kick that hit the net for a second half goal to tie the game. Waterford School defeated Rowland Hall 4-3 to win the 2A State Soccer Championship game Oct. 23 at Rio Tinto Stadium.
The family of Aaron Lowe weep as Lowe is remembered Saturday, Oct. 30. For the first time in school history, the University of Utah has officially retired a jersey number, No. 22, in its football program. Retiring No. 22 honored two players who have lost their lives in the past year, running back Ty Jordan, who died Dec. 25 and defensive back Aaron Lowe, who died Sept. 26.
One youth hockey player is reluctantly helped to his feet by a teammate during practice after getting knocked down at the Utah Olympic Oval, Nov. 16. Hockey is just one of many sports to discover at the Utah Olympic Oval in Kearns that include speedskating, figure skating, curling and track running.
The Utes defeated the Oregon Ducks to win the 2021 Pac-12 football championship title at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas, Dec 3. The Utes registered a 38-10 victory in front of 56,511 to clinch their first Rose Bowl berth.
Americans Joey Mantia, Emery Lehman and Casey Dawson set a world record in men’s team pursuit at the ISU World Cup long-track speedskating races at the Utah Olympic Oval in Kearns on Sunday, Dec. 5.
Utah State Aggies guard Rylan Jones, center, gets pressured by Brigham Young Cougars guard Alex Barcello (13) and Brigham Young Cougars forward Caleb Lohner, right, in basketball action between the Brigham Young Cougars and the Utah State Aggies at the Marriott Center in Provo, Wednesday, Dec. 8.
Distant trees give the illusion of exploding blossoms as the Snow Geese Festival near Delta draws people in on Friday, Feb. 26, during their northern migration for the start of spring in the Arctic.
The Zipper Glyph, March 20, during the spring equinox. The Zipper Glyph is the largest petroglyph at the Parowan Gap and is interpreted in different ways - including an astronomer and archaeologist who believe the glyph depicts astronomical events, and the movement of the sun, moon and stars as a means to track and chart seasonal changes including the summer and winter solstices and the equinoxes among native people.
Keenan CeiloZ prepares for an appearance as Lizzo in the Viva La DIVA Show at the Metro Music Hall in Salt Lake City on Saturday, April 17.
Grupo Folklorico Tollan performs at the Living Traditions festival in Salt Lake City on Saturday, June 26, 2021. More than 80 different cultures participated in the festival on the 35th anniversary.
Benjamin Fuller, 10 and Eve Oldham, 9 ride in the Draper Stake’s “Maid of Iowa” float in the Days of ‘47 Parade in Salt Lake City, on Friday, July 23.
Leaves turn with the change of the season creating a tapestry of brilliant fall colors in the Wasatch Mountains on Wednesday, Sept. 29.
Jeff Lewis gives this wife Tina a kiss as they wait for the doors to open for a hockey game at Vivint Arena on Tina’s first night out after coming home from the hospital, Thursday, Sept. 30. The Lewis family are avid hockey fans, and their favorite team is the Las Vegas Knights. The hockey tickets were purchased last spring, when Tina’s outlook did not look good.