Photos as a form of storytelling have taken on new meaning in this age of smartphones and social sharing.
Armed with cameras in our pockets, we’re bombarded with more images than ever before. But what images will stand to define 2018 in the Pacific Northwest for years to come? What images told their story most effectively?
At OPB, our goal is to illuminate a wider world. In 2018, our images helped take viewers inside the chaos and destruction of wildfires, a divisive political season, introduced a cadre of monks in the Columbia River Gorge, and of course highlighted the beautiful natural surroundings.
Here are the 10 photos (plus a few extras) that resonated the best with our audience on Instagram.
In July, the Substation Fire tore through the grasslands on the eastern edge of the Columbia River Gorge. The nearly 80,000-acre wildfire destroyed crops, properties and a piece of Oregon history: the Charles Nelson House. For almost 80 years, the house stood abandoned and alone, a symbol of the state’s rugged past. Within the blink of an eye, it was gone forever.
Deadly wildfires have become increasingly common in the West in recent decades. One reason why: a backlog of forest management that allows fuel to build. Seeking to reduce the risks of deadly wildfires, lawmakers unveiled a plan in August that seeks to increase thining and prescribed burning in Western forests.
In this photo, a crew works on thining forestland and conducting prescribed burns to decrease fuel buildup in a ponderosa pine forest.
Photographer: Jes Burns
The tribally-owned Kah-Nee-Ta Resort and its spring-fed pool were beloved for generations as a gateway between the Warm Springs reservation and the rest of the world. It closed its doors this year after decades of serving guests and employing tribal members.
On closing weekend, people gathered for a celebration of culture and the end of an era.
Photographer: Emily Cureton
For about a decade, forest-dwelling monks have kept an obscure Buddhist tradition alive in the Columbia River Gorge with the help of the White Salmon, Washington, community.
The monks cannot ask for or store excess food. They cannot possess or use money. They cannot farm. They can only eat what is given to them each day by the community.
Photographer: Bradley W. Parks
Oregon voters gave Gov. Kate Brown four more years in office in handing her victory in the most expensive political race in state history.
“We’re going to fight to protect our air, our water, our pristine coastline, no matter what the federal government does,” Brown told a cheering crowd at her victory party after Republican challenger Knute Buehler conceded the race. In the end, Brown captured 50 percent of the vote and continued the Democrats’ streak of controlling the governor’s office.
Photographer: Jonathan Levinson
Researchers in Washington are studying a fish that nests under rocks and sings at night to attract its mates: The midshipman fish. They say the ears of these singing fish could teach us how to improve our own hearing.
Photographer: Cassandra Profita
With her win on Election Night, Jo Ann Hardesty made history as the first woman of color elected to serve on Portland City Council. Hardesty’s election is expected to result in the Council adopting more liberal policies, particularly on issues related to homelessness and police oversight.
“I thought this was a city of compassionate people, empathetic people, people who believed we can do better than jail cells for people who are houseless,” she told the Election Night crowd, before hopping off the stage to get her dance on.
Photographer: Nate Sjol
Cannon Beach Police launched an investigation in November to figure out who, or what, was killing the coastal city’s feral rabbits. The rabbits are a source of civic strife, with some of the residents seeing them as charming guests and others viewing them as pests who vandalize gardens.
Photographer: Kristian Foden-Vencil
While politicians at the state and federal levels battle over their responses to climate change, a fishing town on Oregon’s South Coast attempts to rise above toxic algae and a volatile ocean economy.
“There aren’t a lot of other options. When your annual cycle includes this large influx of financing at a certain time of year and that doesn’t happen, you start to hurt,” Port of Port Orford Commission President Tom Calvanese said of the city’s reliance on its fishing and crabbing industry.
Photographer: Arya Surowidjojo
During a busy firefighting season, there could be dozens of fires burning at any given moment in Oregon alone. What makes it possible for wildland firefighters to do the work they do battling those blazes? A very well-organized incident command team set up as a small city on the edge of the wilderness.
This summer, the “Think Out Loud” team visited a wildfire incident command camp near Grants Pass, Oregon.
Photographer: Sage Van Wing
The undefinable Erykah Badu rolled into town this April as part of the annual Soul’d Out Music Festival. The queen of neo-soul brought the vibes (and an epic pair of kicks).
One day before the one-year anniversary of when a Portland Police officer shot and killed Quanice Hayes, his family hand-delivered a letter declaring its intent to sue the city of Portland.
Photographer: Bryan M. Vance
Musical genres are fading in today’s artistic landscape. Pop is country. Soul is pop. Jazz is hip-hop. Hip-hop is jazz. The trend of an almost gumbo-like musical future is becoming the new normal. Genre-blending Portland band Tribe Mars’ music is a peek into that reality.
Photographer: David Stuckey
Richard and Erlene Stratton discuss voting while enjoying a meal at Casey’s Diner on Oct. 22, 2018, in Roseburg, Oregon. Residents in Douglas County, where Roseburg is located, approved a so-called “Second Amendment Preservation Ordinance” in November.
Photographer: Jonathan Levinson