And while issues and politicians may change, a constant is California’s natural beauty — wildflowers in bloom, mountains set in front of sunsets, an unusual rock formation in the middle of a lake.
So here’s our holiday gift to you — a selection of the year’s most compelling images by CalMatters photo journalists and contributors.
Gov. Gavin Newsom leaves the stage after delivering a speech at his inauguration for a second term at the Plaza de California in Sacramento in January. Photo by Rahul Lal, CalMattersPeople mourn outside Monterey City Hall for the victims of a mass shooting that left 11 people dead and 9 others injured at the Star Ballroom Dance Studio in January. Photos by Pablo Unzueta for CalMattersPam Holland holds a photo of her late son Shane Earl Holland in her living room in Tehachapi on April. Photo by Larry Valenzuela, CalMatters/CatchLight LocalCutler residents assess and clean up water damage from their homes in March. Many homes in the area were flooded due to a breach in a nearby levee after a series of strong storms hit the Central Valley. Photos by Larry Valenzuela, CalMatters/CatchLight LocalFirst partner Jennifer Siebel Newsom addresses the media during an event to observe the 50th anniversary of Roe v. Wade at the state Capitol. In June 2022, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the landmark Roe v. Wade ruling, ending nearly 50 years of guaranteed abortion access for American women. Photo by Miguel Gutierrez Jr., CalMattersA wildflower “superbloom” at North Table Mountain Ecological Reserve in Oroville in April. Photo by Julie A Hotz for CalMattersFirst: Distant phacelia, common fiddleneck, and other wildflowers in bloom during a “superbloom” in Carrizo Plain National Monument in Santa Margarita in April. Next: A view of Half Dome and the Yosemite Valley from the Upper Yosemite Falls Trail in July. Last: California poppies in a field in Sacramento in April. Photos by Julie A Hotz and Miguel Gutierrez Jr., CalMattersMono Lake on the eastern edge of the Sierra Nevada in May. Environmentalists say it’s past time for California to halt Los Angeles’ diversion of Mono Lake’s tributaries. Photo by Sierra Farquhar for CalMattersSupporters at a Unite Here Local 11 protest hold hands in solidarity in June. Photo by Zaydee Sanchez for CalMattersFirst: Tammy Rodriguez, an employee with the state Department of Motor Vehicles in San Luis Obispo, in June. Rodriguez has 27 years of state service, including five years in San Luis Obispo. Last: Elise Byun, a member of the women’s gymnastics team, at the University of California, Berkeley in June. Photos by Julie Leopo-Bermudez and Semantha Norris for CalMattersScreen Actors Guild members and Writers Guild of America members picket at the Amazon Culver Studios in Culver City in June. Photo by Julie A Hotz for CalMattersFirst: Arturo Villanueva is a tractor driver in Oxnard. Villanueva still isn’t working his usual hours because rainy weather delayed planting some crops by at least two months. Next: Mateo Fuentes is a first-generation college student at Mt. San Antonio College in Walnut. Last: A worshipper at the Sri Guru Ravidass Temple in Rio Linda. Photos by Julie Leopo-Bermudez, Lauren Justice and Miguel Gutierrez Jr., for CalMattersEl Cerrito Mayor Lisa Motoyama outside City Hall in El Cerrito in August. Photo by Semantha Norris, CalMattersFirst: People fill bags with sand in preparation for Hurricane Hilary at the Bonita-Sunnyside Fire Station in San Diego in August. Instructor Mitchell Schmidt teaches a student to use welding tools during a course at Lakeshore College in Wisconsin in August. Lakeshore College offers courses that practice competency-based education that some California schools are hoping to adopt. Photos by Adriana Heldiz and Larry Valenzuela, CalMatters/CatchLight Local Farmworkers work in a field outside Bakersfield in Kern County on July 25 2023. Photo by Larry Valenzuela, CalMatters/CatchLight Local
Marie at her home in Culver City in September. Marie lived at Community’s Child after leaving a domestic violence relationship and fighting a past addition. She now owns her home and has built a new life for herself and her children. Photo by Alisha Jucevic for CalMatters