How photography helps us make sense of this unforgettable year

A deadly virus. Lives in lockdown. Passionate calls for justice. The images of 2020 reflected the humanity of a turbulent time.

THROUGH IT ALL, THERE WAS LOVE 05.23, Barzanò, Italy After Italy’s shutdown was lifted, Marta Colzani and Alessio Cavallaro donned masks to be married at the Church of San Vito, an hour’s drive north of Milan. Only the family exchanged hugs at the reception.
Photograph by DAVIDE BERTUCCIO

The sight is charming and, in all but one respect, familiar.

A young couple in their wedding finery—his sharp suit, her elegant veil—are in church, completing their marriage formalities. She stands close at his shoulder as he writes in the register. The priest looks on, his elbow on the counter, avuncular and affectionate. An ornate metal crucifix in the foreground and a wooden one on the wall behind the couple sanctify the scene. But there is something else. Bride and groom are wearing cloth face masks that match their formal attire. The priest, too, wears a mask, and a plastic visor with an attached transparent face shield.

One year ago this photograph—made by Davide Bertuccio in the town of Barzanò, Italy—would have required interpreting. As 2020 ends, however, what it depicts is instantly clear. The scene is an entry in a new rubric, the COVID wedding. It exemplifies the awkward adjustments that people have been learning, to simply keep going in pandemic times.

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