A year across the West through the eyes of our photographers

The best photos of 2018.

 

In the margins of a flurrying news cycle this midterm election year, our writers and photographers stepped into communities around the West to offer nuanced perspectives of life in the region. View the tech boom through the car and RV windows of Tesla employees, and see gentrification through the winding route of a postal service worker. To explore larger themes of change, take a look past the headlines at some of our best photos of the year.

JANUARY

Dan Turrentine cuts across a porch during his delivery route in Armory Park on Dec. 14. “I try to take as many shortcuts as possible,” he says. As downtown Tucson urbanizes, nearby postal routes get busier.
J. Daniel Hud

What does a gentrifying city look like? Talk to the man who delivers the mail.

As downtown Tucson becomes more dense, a longtime letter carrier bears the increased deliveries of new residents. This intimate piece gets a close perspective on what “downtown revitalization” looks like to one man that has been tracing neighborhood routes for over a decade.


FEBRUARY

The team warms up in the bus during halftime in the Whalers’ game against the Houston Hawks.
Ash Adams

A football team on the edge of the world

Through photos, Ash Adams shows a group of boys participating in an American tradition. Nearly 500 miles from their nearest opponent in the northernmost inhabited city in the U.S., football doesn’t look as it does in the Lower 48. Follow the team to the state title.


MARCH

An alkali fly, under water inside of its protective air bubble.
Floris van Breugel

Scuba flies

This piece, originally published by bioGraphic, features stunning underwater photos of flies that can dive 8 meters into harsh alkaline water and remain submerged for up to 15 minutes. For centuries their strategy was foggy until biologist and engineer Floris van Breugel set out to discover how they survive and thrive underwater.


APRIL

Stacy Bourdukofsky in her bedroom in Saint Paul, Alaska. She is a survivor of domestic violence from a previous marriage and now works as a victim advocate. She also raises 10 children with her new husband and says she's found happiness with that relationship.
Ash Adams

How a community-based program aids sexual assault victims

For survivors in St. Paul, Alaska, a forensic exam used to be a three and a half hour flight away, making it nearly impossible to gather evidence of assault. Now volunteers are making justice more attainable in remote parts of Indian Country.


MAY

Bridgett Davis is one of the new women entrepreneurs who has taken advantage of the wider acceptance and legalization of marijuana and started her own business selling marijuana products.
Roberto (Bear) Guerra

Black women rewrite weed’s legacy in Los Angeles

Only about 1 percent of weed businesses around the country are in the hands of African-Americans and people of color. Follow the hustle of entrepreneurs breaking norms and taking advantage of the new market opened up in California.


JUNE

In the early 1900s, the western yellow-billed cuckoo (Coccyzus americanus) was a common sight in the lower LA River Basin, where it nested during the summer among dense cottonwood and willow groves. But by the 1950s, its habitat was gone. Today, the cuckoo is a state and federally listed threatened species, and studies are underway to determine if habitat restoration could encourage the bird’s return.
Roberto (Bear) Guerra

An inventory of loss on the Los Angeles River

In protecting residents from flooding, the river has been essentially channelized into nothing. Photographer Roberto (Bear) Guerra photographs species that have been lost and explores the hope they might still have for revitalization.


JULY

A July 4th wildfire in Basalt, Colorado, is fought on the ground and in the air. A plane, visible from the photographer’s porch, drops fire retardant slurry to control the blaze.
Peter McBride

In a time of division and hate, wildfire unites a community

An opinion contributor and a photographer find their own community relying on the protection of disaster responders. In the era of “me,” Auden Schendler finds the positives in any moment that selfishness and political opinions are cast aside.


AUGUST

A farmworker removes protective netting from a row of peach trees before harvesting the fruit.
Roberto (Bear) Guerra

Farmworkers face illness and death in the fields

“The reality is that the machinery of growers is taken better care of than the lives of farmworkers.” In a state with progressive labor policies, HCN Contributing Editor Ruxandra Guidi and photographer Roberto (Bear) Guerra expose the dangerous reality that a warming climate brings to those working in the heat all day.


SEPTEMBER

Lewis Arthur, the founder of Veterans on Patrol, an organization that provides shelter and resources to homeless veterans in Tucson, Arizona, stands outside a camp which he started in early June 2018 in an effort to fight what he believes is the trafficking of migrant women and children for sex in the Tucson area.
Andrew Cullen for High Country News

Conspiracy theories inspire vigilante justice in Tucson

Tay Wiles and Andrew Cullen gain access to the Sonoran Desert base camp of an online conspiracy. Though debunked by multiple news outlets, Lewis Arthur draws a hodge-podge group from around the globe to hunt alleged migrant sex-traffickers. This piece explores the complicated motivations behind a far-right character rejected even by Bundyites.


OCTOBER

This young woman lives with her father, Dave Ramsey, in a camper in the Reno-Sparks Indian Colony church parking lot. Ramsey works as the night security guard for the church. After working for Tesla as a driver, he decided to go back to a job that didn’t move him around so much, so he could spend more time with his daughter.
Nina Riggio

See what a tech production surge means for Tesla workers

A new manufacturing center has more employees than the population of the county it is housed in. Photographer Nina Riggio documents those drawn to the new job opportunities that are finding alternative living situations.


NOVEMBER
Mary Ruth Meyook, her mother Nellie Arey of Aklavik and Carol Oyagak of Kaktovik play cards at Shingle Point fish camp in Canada.
Brian Adams

One Inuit family’s life, straddling national borders

Accompany wilderness guide Bruce Inglangasak’s 350-mile journey home with photographer Brian Adams. Through details of Inglangasak’s family and friends, Adams offers an intimate portrait of life spanning countries.


DECEMBER

State Sen. Don Coram walks through his hemp field in Western Colorado.
Luna Anna Archey/High Country News

What the 2018 farm bill means for the West

From federal changes in hemp growing and SNAP work requirements, to funding for a fire station in a rural county, Editorial Fellow Jessica Kutz breaks down what’s in the bill. Also see her coverage and more photographs from Luna Anna Archey of farmers growing hemp on Colorado’s conservative Western slope.

Can’t get enough photography? Check out our photo galleriesEmail High Country News at [email protected] or submit a letter to the editor.

High Country News Classifieds
  • CANYONLANDS FIELD INSTITUTE
    Colorado Plateau Natural & Human History Field Seminars. Lodge, river, hiking options. Small groups, guest experts.
  • NATURE EDUCATION DIRECTOR
    Our mission is to inspire a life-long connection to nature and community through creative exploration of the outdoors. We are seeking an educational leader who...
  • DEVELOPMENT AND MARKETING DIRECTOR
    The Development and Marketing Director is a senior position responsible for the execution of all development and marketing strategies to raise funds and increase public...
  • DEVELOPMENT COORDINATOR
    Coordinates all Wyoming Wildlife Federation philanthropic activities. Tasks include identification, recruitment, and retention of donors, organizing fundraising events, and assisting with grant writing.
  • REALTOR NEEDS A REMOTE ASSISTANT
    This is a business assistant position, The working hours are flexible and you can chose to work from anywhere of your choice, the pay is...
  • CORPORATE & GRANTS PARTNER MANAGER
    Forever Our Rivers Foundation Corporate Partnerships Manager February 2020 www.ForeverOurRivers.org Forever Our Rivers Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, was formed in late 2016 with the mission...
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    Central Oregon LandWatch is seeking an Executive Director to advance our mission and oversee the development of the organization. Job Description: The Executive Director oversees...
  • WESTERN NATIVE SEED
    Specializing in native seeds and seed mixes for western states.
  • MEDIA DIRECTOR
    Love working with the media? Shine a spotlight on passionate, bold activists fighting for wild lands, endangered species, wild rivers and protecting the climate.
  • STAFF ATTORNEY - NEVADA
    The Center for Biological Diversity is seeking an attorney to expand our litigation portfolio in Nevada. Come join our hard-hitting team as we fight for...
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    The Montana Wildlife Federation seeks an energetic leader to advance our mission, sustain our operations, and grow our grassroots power. For a full position description,...
  • HISTORIC COMMERCIAL OPPORTUNITY IN DOWNTOWN NOGALES
    Nogales. 3 active lower spaces and upper floor with lots of potential. 520-245-9000 [email protected]
  • CHUCK BURR'S CULTUREQUAKE.COM BLOG
    Change will happen when we see a new way of living. Thinking to save the world.
  • COMING TO TUCSON?
    Popular vacation house, furnished, 2 bed/1 bath, yard, dog-friendly. Lee at [email protected] or 520-791-9246.
  • DIRECTOR, TEXAS WATER PROGRAMS
    The National Wildlife Federation seeks a Director to lead our water-related policy and program work in Texas, with a primary focus on NWF's signature Texas...
  • SPLIT CREEK RANCH
    Spectacular country home on 48 acres with Wallowa River running through it! 541-398-1148 www.RubyPeakRealty.com
  • OJO CALIENTE COMMERCIAL VENTURE
    Outstanding location near the world famous Ojo Caliente Mineral Spring Resort. Classic adobe Mercantile complete w/living quarters, separate 6 unit B&B, metal building and spacious...
  • NEW MEXICO GILA NATIONAL FOREST HORSE RANCH
    43 acres in the Gila National Forest. Horse facility, custom home. Year-round outdoor living. REDUCED to $999,000, 575-536-3109.
  • EVERLAND MOUNTAIN RETREAT
    Everland Mountain Retreat includes 318 mountaintop acres with a 3,200 square foot lodge and two smaller homes. Endless vistas of the Appalachian mountains, open skies,...
  • COPPER CANYON MEXICO CAMPING & BACKPACKING
    Camping, hiking, backpacking, R2R2R, Tarahumara Easter, Mushroom Festival, www.coppercanyontrails.org.