Readjusting the frame, looking for light, emotion, and finally clicking the shutter at the right moment was a ritual repeatedly done this year by Voice of OC photographers and reporters. 

We photographed cultural festivities, raucous city council meetings along with workers demanding higher wages, and pro-democracy rallies, just to name a few. 

Many graciously let us into their worlds and homes, to let us photograph them. We interviewed, sat through city council meetings, walked for miles during protests, and spoke to all sorts of people in different cities to bring you the faces and communities of Orange County front and center in our coverage.

In recent years, Voice of OC has dedicated itself to visuals more and more every year. 

In 2022, we hired more freelance and student photojournalists than in years past. In 2019, Voice of OC promoted freelance photojournalist Julie Leopo to Director of Photography, where the goal was to grow the visual component of Voice of OC’s stories. 

This year we also implemented our Local Lens series. 

In this occasional series, Voice of OC works with local community photographers to offer residents a first-hand look at the local sites and scenes of Orange County. We plan to grow this series next year. 

Here we offer a look at some of our best photographic moments from 2022: 

Westminster Sales Tax Proposal Heads to November Ballot After Several Tries

The color bright red activates the Asian Garden Mall in Westminster on Jan. 20, 2022. Credit: JULIE LEOPO, Voice of OC

Orange County Takes Free Public Transit Leap With ‘Permanent’ Youth Bus Passes

Luis Diaz, 17, waits in line to board a bus and head over to the gym after a full day of classes at Santa Ana High School on Feb. 16, 2022. Diaz has been riding on Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA) buses for four years and pays $4.50 for a single day pass every time he rides. (Omar Sanchez / Voice of OC)

Downtown Santa Ana Small Business Owners Block OC Streetcar Construction Over Lost Profits

Business owners and community members halt construction in the early morning hours of Feb. 9, 2022. Their efforts are part of an ongoing demand for the city of Santa Ana and OCTA to help business owners affected by the construction of the OCTA streetcar. Credit: JULIE LEOPO, Voice of OC

Downtown Santa Ana Merchants Step Back into the Trench to Protest OC Streetcar Impacts

Valentin Martinez, owner of Nino’s Bridal Couture, sets up a quinceañera dress display at the center of the Orange County Streetcar construction site on Fourth Street in Downtown Santa Ana at around 6:15 a.m. Martinez is one of many business owners downtown protesting the Orange County Transportation Authority’s (OCTA) Streetcar project, as it is severely affecting the income of the local businesses. (Omar Sanchez / Voice of OC)

Year of the Tiger in Full Swing After OC Tet Festivities Roar Back to In-Person Life

The outfits of Tet Parade participants Aisha Romero and Faith Du (left to right) were inspired by the Trung Sisters, Trung Trac & Trung Nhi. The sisters were known for their involvement in leading a rebellion against the first Chinese regime under the Han Dynasty, according to VSAcademy. Credit: OMAR SANCHEZ/ Voice of OC

Will Orange County’s Grocery Workers Strike? Union Claims Unfair Labor Practices

Grocery store employees who work in Orange County and parts of Los Angeles County rally outside a Ralphs grocery in Long Beach on March 15, 2022. Credit: JULIE LEOPO, Voice of OC

OC Community College District Employees Demand Better Pay; Negotiations Deadlock

Faculty members hold up signs at the Rancho Santiago Community College District Board of Trustees meeting on March 14, 2022. Credit: HOSAM ELATTAR, Voice of OC

Orange County Goes Global; Praying for Ukraine and Uniting for Climate Action

The youth present at the climate action protest at the Orange Circle on March 25, 2022. Credit: JULIE LEOPO, Voice of OC
Pope Francis asked all Catholics to gather for prayer concerning the war between Russia and Ukraine. Credit: JULIE LEOPO, Voice of OC
 Sierra Guiterrez, 75, holds the Lady of Fatima as she walks out of the consecration service early Friday morning at the Diocese of Orange. “I am here to pray for the salvation of everyone,” Guiterrez says in Spanish, “I hope God has compassion; I do not know where this will take all of us.” The service was called for peace in Ukraine and Russia. Credit: JULIE LEOPO, Voice of OC

Local Activists Put Lydia Back at Romero Cruz Academy

From left, Clara Romero-Cruz and Sam Romero Cruz, and board member Valerie Amezcua share a moment after the unveiling of the prototype that includes the Romero-Cruz family daughter’s first name. Credit: JULIE LEOPO, Voice of OC

Vindication: Anaheim Residents Sound Off on Concerns About Stadium Deal and City Council Members

This Orange County High School Baseball Team Just Won Its First League Title in 54 Years

Head coach Aaron Pines has had a core support group –which includes his father Myron Pines, his wife Deriah, Lobos assistant coaches, and other family– in helping him prepare for the day and to get to where he has to be daily. Myron (left) was formerly the head coach at Santiago High School in the 90s and led Santiago to their first lone Garden Grove League title in 23 years back in 1991. (Omar Sanchez / Voice of OC)

Fighting for Room to Breathe in Crowded Orange County

Rise Up Willowick’s Campaign Leads, from left, Flor Barajas-Tena, Karen Romero Estrada and Karen Rodriguez, (not pictured Cynthia Guerra) stand between a broken fence separating Cesar Chavez Campesino Park in Santa Ana and Willowick Golf Course. The group has used Cesar Chavez Park for press conferences and community meetings advocating for open space in Santa Ana. Credit: JULIE LEOPO, Voice of OC

California Fast Food Workers Demand a Seat at the Table

California fast food workers hold up signs and chant outside State Senator Dave Min’s office in Irvine, calling on the senator to support a state bill workers say will give them a voice on industry standards on July 27, 2022. Credit: JULIE LEOPO, Voice of OC

Orange County’s Largest City Only Has One Public Pool

A boy learns how to swim at the Pearson Park pool with help from a YMCA instructor on July 25, 2022. Credit: JULIE LEOPO, Voice of OC

Downtown Santa Ana Merchants Demand OC Transit Agency Cushion OC Streetcar Impacts

Merchants march to the OCTA offices in Santa Ana and protest outside the building while some sign up for public comment during the board meeting on July 25, 2022. Credit: JULIE LEOPO, Voice of OC

Local Lens: Frankie Vera Photographs the streets of Santa Ana

Jose, the Santa Ana neighborhood cotton candy vendor rides his bike loaded with a new stock of candy to sell on Jan. 16, 2022. Credit: FRANK VERA

No Campaign Finance Reform for Anaheim

Members of the newly formed non-partisan group, CUAC (Clean Up Anaheim Coalition) and residents of Anaheim meet at the steps of Anaheim City hall for a press conference on July 12, 2022. Credit: JULIE LEOPO, Voice of OC

Anaheim FBI Corruption Probe Puts New Focus on Role of Community Organizing

(Middle) Eymi Arellano, 43, holds a sign during the CUAC (Clean Up Anaheim Coalition) press conference calling for transparency, campaign reform ordinance, and demanding an end to special interests groups at city hall on July 12, 2022. Arellano’s sign reads: Councilmember Fassel: Support the original ordinance of Councilmember Moreno. Credit: JULIE LEOPO, Voice of OC

San Clemente City Council Backs Off Abortion Ban Following Public Backlash

San Clemente city councilman Steve Knoblock listening to public comment addressing his abortion resolution at the special city council meeting on Saturday Aug. 6 2022. (Omar Sanchez / Voice of OC)

Chicano Power Stands Proud at Santa Ana’s El Salvador Park

“Little Arabia Exists”: Anaheim Officially Recognizes America’s First Arab American District

Yasim (Center) and JuJu (right), who work at a restaurant in Little Arabia, on Aug. 18, 2022. Credit: HOSAM ELATTAR, Voice of OC

“Enough is Enough”: Anaheim’s Edison Community Demands Safer Streets

Francisco Basurto, 37, walks with his family and ‘Grupo Edison’ on Friday, Aug. 5, 2022, during the “flashlight walk.” Residents, community members, and city officials walked through the streets holding flashlights while stopping in areas that needed more lighting, increased security, or clean-up services. “The city officials need to hear us; we are looking for a sense of security; I look for safe areas for my families to visit even if it means driving further away,” says Basurto. Credit: JULIE LEOPO, Voice of OC

Another CA Agency Takes Aim at Private Fence in Newport Back Bay As Protest Springs Up

Dennis Bress, one local activist, shouted up at the fundraiser from behind the fence with a bullhorn last Thursday. Credit: BRANDON PHO, Voice of OC

OC Soccer Club Hangs Onto Irvine Stadium For Now, Enters Negotiations With City

Orange County SC goalkeeper Patrick Rakovsky high fives fans in the stands after Orange County defeated LA Galaxy II by the final score of 1-0. The Irvine City Council is scheduled to decide which team will have a home inside Championship Soccer Stadium in 2023 and what type of access the broader community will have at the next council meeting. (Omar Sanchez / Voice of OC)

Santa Ana’s Street Vendors Are There For Community Members Year Round

Don Sergio, waits for customers to buy his flowers on McFadden St. in Santa Ana. Don Sergio sits in his wheelchair due to falling and fracturing his leg on the same sidewalk where he sells flowers. Credit: FRANKIE VERA, Voice of OC

More OC Residents Keep Pressing The County Animal Shelter to Reopen Kennels to Public Visitors

Orange County Rallies Against Repression, For Democracy in Burma

Alfred Tun, speaks during the Myanmar Democracy Solidarity Rally in Stanton on Oct. 8, 2022. Credit: JULIE LEOPO, Voice of OC

Orange County Reflects on Indigenous People’s Day

Josey Tenorio, a Hopi descendant, is an advocate for murdered women and missing indigenous children. Tenorio hopes to get more help from the local government, advocating for tools to be more accessible such as an Amber Alert. “I would like for them [local officials] to start to take away the 24-hour wait on and the Amber Alert as soon as we go missing,” says Tenorio. Many indigenous people that go missing are part of marginalized, largely forgotten people of color, Tenorio explains, “we’re the least important in many eyes were seen as runaways, we are seen as people of color with drugs and substance abuse issues, which is targeting us as women that can be trafficked outside our country or out of a state.” (JULIE LEOPO, Voice of OC)
An exhibit with portraits & stories of Missing or Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG) are displayed at the Indigenous People’s Day celebration in Santa Ana on Saturday, Oct. 8, 2022. As of 2018, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) identified murder as the sixth-leading cause of death among Native American and Alaska Native women. In 2016, the Urban Indian Health Institute reported 5,712 cases of MMIWG with only 116 cases recorded by the US Department of Justice’s federal missing persons database, according to the exhibit’s display. (Omar Sanchez / Voice of OC)

The New O.C. Museum of Art Opens in the Heart of Costa Mesa

Large windows at the front and south side of the new building for the Orange County Museum of Art help to bring the outside in. Credit: JULIE LEOPO, Voice of OC
A “grand staircase” is split into two sections at the front of the new building for the Orange County Museum of Art. Credit: JULIE LEOPO, Voice of OC

So Cal Rallies in Irvine To Protest Iranian Repression

A woman holds the Sheer-o Khorsheed flag on top of a bus stop near Mason Park in Irvine during the “Global Day of Action for Iran” protest on Saturday Oct. 1, 2022. (Omar Sanchez / Voice of OC)
Over a thousand people gathered at Mason Park in Irvine close to the intersection of Culver and University Drive to participate in the “Global Day of Action for Iran” protest on Oct. 1, 2022. Irvine was one of over 130 cities hosting protests all around the United States and around the world on the same day. (Omar Sanchez / Voice of OC)

OC Commuters Can Now See Huge U.S. Flag Off 91 Freeway Over Future Veterans Cemetery

Moments after the flag raising veterans took a moment to climb up the smaller hill tops to view the flag blow in the wind on Nov. 30, 2022. Credit: JULIE LEOPO, Voice of OC

Meet The Man Who Has Been Serving Up Free Turkey Meals Every Thanksgiving in OC

Frank Garcia roasts turkeys in his restaurant in Anaheim for his annual Thankgiving dinner he hosts for the public at the Honda Center. Credit: JULIE LEOPO, Voice of OC

Orange County hits the Polls

Disabled Voters Mobilized this Midterm Election

Sylvia Delgado passes by a set of campaign signs in her power wheelchair to get to the bus stop. Image Description: Photo of a woman wearing a gray sweater and black beanie on a power wheelchair on the sidewalk headed towards the crosswalk. She passes by various campaign yard signs along the grass. Credit: JEANETTE DURAN, Voice of OC

Will Protections for Hotel Workers Stretch to All of Orange County or Die in Irvine?

Irvine hospitality workers, community allies and organizations in attendance at the Irvine city council meeting on Nov. 22, 2022. Housekeepers urged city council members to pass a protection ordinance that provides security from sexual assault, reinstate daily room cleaning, and fair compensation for heavy workloads. (Omar Sanchez / Voice of OC)

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