Photographing 2020: A year so eventful, at times it felt as if there wasn’t enough time to photograph every single turning point in Orange County.

Yet we did just that.

Julie Leopo

An enterprising and award-winning photojournalist in Orange County and beyond. Leopo, as Voice of OC’s Director of Photography, has captured a wide array of photographs visually documenting the news and soul of Orange County local government and community. Her work has also appeared in Vice, KCET, Ed Source, The California Endowment and OC Weekly.

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Just last year, our newsroom began adding more visuals to our reporting, and this year, we included photography in our reporting more than ever.

Many of our visuals this year were shot  using a telephoto lens or we pre-planned all portraits taking into account precautionary measures.

As the year progressed, we photographed life during Coronavirus, protests, elections, fires, hospital surges, empty malls, crowded areas, renters woes during Coronavirus, food drives, unemployment, and then the  yearly events that were celebrated such as: students graduating, Indigenous peoples day, Dia de los Muertos, Veterans Day, Memorial Day among so many.

This year in photos also became a truly collaborative effort. Voice of OC published photos sent in from community members and readers. We also brought on a group of new freelancers that brought a  deep passion for documenting the county of Orange.

Our visuals team expects to keep expanding and getting more creative in the ways we tell stories about Orange County residents getting through unprecedented times.

Here are our best photos from this year:

Dueling Tet Parades in Little Saigon Still Lead to Happiness

Dao Ngyuen is proud to help carry the South Vietnamese flag during the 2020 Tet Parade in Garden Grove.

The Great Park Tax: How Irvine Homeowners are Paying for the City’s Big Dream

Children play at a park with the Great Park balloon seen in the background.

Leopo: Life in Orange County During Coronavirus

A quiet downtown Orange on March 19, 2020.

Grocery Truck Markets Connect Santa Ana Neighborhoods During Coronavirus

Pedro starts his truck to move on to the next stop in Santa Ana on April 10, 2020.

Going Outdoors During Coronavirus

A young woman and child walk in French Park neighborhood in Santa Ana on April 11, 2020.

Remembering the Fallen on Memorial Day Amid Coronavirus

During their bike ride, a father and son stop to pay their respects to the fallen troops of Iraq and Afghanistan on May 23, 2020.

Crowds Swarm OC Beaches to Protest Stay at Home Order 

A protestor walks on the Pacific Coast Highway holding her sign up to cars honking in support on May 1, 2020.

Orange County Goes Back to the Beach 

Sun bathers and swimmers enjoying the warm weather in San Clemente on May 17, 2020.

Police Fire Tear Gas While Weathering Fireworks, Projectiles As OC Protests Heighten in Santa Ana

Video: May 30, 2020, Orange County Protests 

Protesters gather to protest the killing of George Floyd in Santa Ana on May 30, 2020.

In Wake of Raucous Protests, Santa Ana Residents Rally Around Clean Up

Left, Eric Marcial, 44, and his wife Maria Mendoza, showed up early Saturday morning to clean the debris from the protest from the night before. Marcial, who has lived in the city for 33 years says, “It’s ok to protest, but we also have to take care of our community.”

Orange County Police Violence Protests Go into Sixth Day

Protestors at the Huntington Landmark Senior Adult Community in Huntington Beach on June 4.

Orange County Police Violence Protests Go Into Seventh Day

Protestors on the corner of Alicia Parkway and Aliso Creek Road in Aliso Viejo on June 5, 2020.

Orange County Protests Against Police Violence to Continue Over Week of Juneteenth

Protestors stand for 8 minutes and 45 seconds to remember George Floyd at the intersection of Broadway and 17th in Santa Ana on June 12, 2020.

Juneteenth Santa Ana Rally Draws from Local Black History in Wake of Protests

An attendee wears a shirt in memory of George Floyd at the vigil that took place in Santa Ana on June 19, 2020.


Orange County Officials No Longer Require Masks During Coronavirus Pandemic 

The Fully Open CA protest on Main St. in Huntington Beach on May 1, 2020.

Another Wave of Coronavirus Patients Likely to Hit ORange County Hospitals

Fountain Valley Regional Hospital on July 2, 2020. Staff this month raised issues of capacity.

Gov. Newsom Bolsters Stock of Coronavirus Isolation Rooms for OC Frontline Workers

The mobile coronavirus testing site from Latino Health Access at Walker Elementary school in Santa Ana July 21, 2020. The mobile site goes to underserved neighborhoods throughout OC.

OC Palestinian Students Organize Irvine Protest Against Israeli Plans for Annexation

Protesters hang out the top and side of their cars waving flags during the caravan protest in Irvine on July 26, 2020.

Unprecedented OC election Season Gears Up, Shaped By Social Justice Movements, Public Health Crises 

Orange County’s election season this year could be shaped by local response to the coronavirus pandemic and countywide protests calling for police reform and social equity for communities of color, which saw young people take to the streets en masse.

Panel Experts Walk Away From Controversial OC Board of Education Reopening Guidelines 

Protestors hold signs outside the Board of Education building in Costa Mesa during the board meeting on July 13, 2020.

Irvine Approves Flying of LGBTQ+ Flag A Year After Denying Request

Protesters gather in front of Irvine City Hall June 23, 2020, to rally for flying the pride flag over City Hall.

Huntington Beach’s Anti-Mask Bastion Status Puts its Latino Neighborhood on Edge

Residents in the Oak View neighborhood in Huntington Beach.


Santa Ana Tenants Confront Mounting Eviction Threats Amid Looming Expiration of Citywide Renter Protections 

One undocumented grandmother in her 40s, who requested anonymity, fears what will happen when citywide eviction protections in Santa Ana disappear by the end of the month.

OC School Reopening Reignites Debate Over Alternative Education, Charter Schools

A protestor arrives to the California Policy Center’s Parent Union rally on Aug. 4, 2020.

OC Barbers and Malls Back in Business, Entertainment Venues Still Closed Under New State Coronavirus Rules

A hair stylist cuts hair in the outdoors near the salon in Santa Ana on Aug. 21, 2020.

»Orange County Coastal Enclave Becomes Ground Zero of Police Violence Controversy and Protests

Elsa Hernandez, a 48-year-old San Clemente resident, said she had never been to a protest before. That changed on Sept. 24, when an Orange County Sheriff’s deputy shot and killed a Black homeless man in her city.

A Time to Reflect, Recognize Local Indigenous History

Joyce Perry, stands at the ‘Old Peoples Resting Place’ an ancient burial site in Bolsa Chica, Huntington Beach. 174 human remains were disturbed for Hearthside housing projects, the human remains have since been reburied in an undisclosed location. Joyce has been advocating for the care of this site for 30 years, her non-profit, Acjachemen Tongva Land Conservancy is working towards being granted the remaining undeveloped land back. Oct. 9, 2020.

Orange County in the Midst of Unprecedented Election Mail-in Ballot Wave

Neal Kelley, the registrar of voters, during an elections media event on Oct. 5, 2020.

More OC Hospital Employees Protest Conditions They Say Led to Coronavirus Outbreak 

Staff at Kindred Hospital in Westminster protested working conditions in their hospital, strained by the local coronavirus pandemic and a recent death of a coworker at the hospital’s Brea location.

Silverado Canyon and Blue Ridge Fires in Photos- Day One 

Fires continue to burn by the 133 South toll road highway entrance. As of this morning, the fires have spread to 2000 acres per the Irvine Fire Dept.

“Like Nothing I’ve Experienced Before,” Orange County Flees From Two Fires

Real estate accountant Nahima Borque woke up to the smell of smoke outside her window at 8:00 a.m. just before she began getting ready to work from home again. She’s been a resident of Woodbury in East Irvine for over 10 years and wishes the city would have worked faster to send her information on what to do and where to go as she received a text from the city of Irvine an hour later to evacuate.

Nearly Half Million OC Residents Have Already Had Coronavirus, Latinos Hit Hardest , UC Irvine Study Shows

The mobile coronavirus testing site from Latino Health Access at Walker Elementary school in Santa Ana July 21, 2020. The mobile site goes to underserved neighborhoods throughout OC.

Orange County Election Month Lead Up to Nov. 3 Captured in Photos 

Voters at the Honda Center voting center in Anaheim on Oct. 30, 2020. The site is considered the largest vote center in Orange County.

Dia de los Muertos Altar Tour in Santa Ana, Anaheim Honors the Dead in Midst of Coronavirus Pandemic  

A young girl runs in her halloween costume through a sidewalk in Anaheim where the mobile altar is stationed at its 2nd stop of the day.

Annual High Tide Spurs Concerns About Future Safety of San Onofre Nuclear Waste Stock Near South OC

Two kids watch the incoming water as the tide breaks near the rip rocks by the San Onofre sea wall on Nov. 15, 2020.

‘I Hope They Put Themselves in Our Shoes’

(Right) Reyna is the first to arrive at the food drive sponsored by the Orange County Labor Federation while (Left) Maria, translates drive-up directions to Reyna for the food drive. Maria, who belongs to Unite Here, a local labor union, has created a close bond with Reyna, many times in Spanish, Maria, encourages Reyna to keep moving forward through her time of uncertainty.

Controversy Over Neighborhood Handball Courts Fuels Santa Ana’s Youth and Public Safety Debate

Logan neighborhood residents stand in front of where the handball courts at Chepa’s Park used to be.


High Unemployment Rates in Orange County Slowly Dropping: 2020’s Economic Collapse in Review

A line forms for a neighborhood food pantry in Huntington Beach on Aug. 12, 2020.


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