2012 Photos of the Year 

From political protests to rooftop honeybees: Capturing Richmond, one frame at a time.

There's nothing quite as pure as photojournalism. It's inescapable. Writers can twist words and meaning. Broadcasters can manipulate the video camera. Still photography confronts us with truth, a moment in time that can't be refuted.

Even with today's technology — the fantastic advances in digital cameras and editing software, not to mention the ease and proliferation of video — there's immense power in the still image. It stops us. In the hands of a skilled photographer, it can move us in ways we didn't think possible.

From the women's rights protests that garnered national attention to bees swarming the Jefferson Hotel to the inner-city boxing coach who's saving kids from the streets, here are some of our favorite images from 2012.

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Byrd Watching: Published online Oct. 25. Some 15,000 people descended on the Carillon catch a glimpse of President Obama. The crowd waited for hours in unseasonable heat to hear him speak.

Photographer's note: As the president and U.S. Sen. Mark Warner lift their arms to bid farewell to the crowd, people in the background raise their smart phones and cameras in unison. This simple gesture of the crowd documenting the moment adds a layer to the image, making it much stronger.

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Fighting Chance: Published Aug. 22. One of boxing coach Jerry Royster's most promising fighters, Freddie Lee Bell III, hits Justin Booker with a hard right during a sparring session.

Photographer's note: I have a new admiration for photographers who shoot boxing. I had free reign of the ring and still had trouble negotiating the ropes and tight spaces to get a good action shot. Here I was able to make a fairly intimate image with good impact.

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Fighting Chance: Published Aug. 22. Jermoine Royster, 11, in his father's boxing gym at Norrell Elementary School.

Photographer's note: Jermoine was one of the friendliest kids I'd met in a while. He always seemed to be smiling, so I knew he would be a good subject for a portrait. I lit him with a portable light kit to make the image dramatic. But Jermoine would start giggling between shots. Afterward, he shook my hand and asked, "How'd we do Mr. Scott?"

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Unpublished: Virginia Commonwealth University forward Juvonte Reddic swats away a shot by a Drexel University player in the Colonial Athletic Association championship game at the Richmond Coliseum on March 5.

Photographer's note: This image captures Reddic's intense concentration. The razor-thin plane of focus brings the viewers attention right to his eye which ultimately is the only thing in focus. The blurred ball, CAA sign and jumble of arms create a nice effect.

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Unpublished: Craig Lawrence Woodlief Boden of Rainbow City, Ala., took part in the Virginia Thanksgiving Festival celebration at Berkeley Plantation on Nov. 4, where he helped re-enact what supporters insist was the first official Thanksgiving in 1619.

Photographer's note: The event was an interesting mix of characters, including Indians from the Chickahominy tribe, men in buckskin, and a Civil War bugler. Boden really stood out with the beard and period hat. Turns out that his ninth great-grandfather was Capt. John Woodlief, the captain of the original expedition, so his participation in the re-enactment had a deep personal tie.

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Conflicted Confederacy: Published Feb. 28. Retired U.S. Marine Sgt. Cliff Troutman, who served in Vietnam, attends a Sons of Confederate Veterans rally at the Robert E. Lee monument on Monument Avenue.

Photographer's note: This guy just looked tough. He was the real deal in a crowd of people dressed as re-enactors. When he turned and stared down at me with piercing blue eyes and the cigarette clenched between his teeth, all the elements of a good image came together. The monument and flag help set the scene, but his face tells the story.

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Massey's Tragic Legacy: Published Sept. 12. Coal cars and trucks ship Massey Energy's coal at Williamson, W.Va.

Photographer's note: This is a typical scene in coal country, narrow roads with houses built just feet from the highway, coal trucks barreling by, and train cars filled to the brim against the rural backdrop. To get all these elements in a single image, I used a wide-angle lens to frame the scene and a slow shutter speed to illustrate the trucks' jarring presence.

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The Comeback: Published Aug. 14. With a fresh artistic start, local actress and writer Irene Ziegler is shaking off a horrific year.

Photographer's note: I met Irene at her new home in the West End. She was her usual gracious self but still shaken from the home invasion and divorce. In almost every image prior to the disruptive life events Irene was photographed smiling. I didn't feel like that approach fit this story. I used the books to frame her and the lines on the table to draw readers' eyes in. Surrounded here by her most valuable life possessions the person emerging from tragedy is revealed.

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Standoff: Published March 7. Mara Hyman squares off against police at the State Capitol during a women's rights protest.

Photographer's note: This image generated the most online comments of any image Style published in 2012 and the protest images doubled our average weekly Web traffic. Much of the debate centered on the fact that this was an image taken in the United States. A comment from a reader in Tampa, Fla., wrote: "This is Greece, right?"

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Taken Aback: March 7. Shannon Fisher, Sara Heifetz, and Caroline Hoover march up the lawn from 10th Street toward the south steps of the Capitol during a women's rights protest.

Photographer's note: The police attempt to stop the march from going to the Capitol steps, but to no avail. The moment the crowd of several hundred swarms up the lawn, the scene becomes chaotic. The protesters had just marched for six blocks and the energy level was high. I was looking for people who had determination on their faces. These three women plus the baby in tow illustrate the spirit of the protest.

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Arrests at state Capitol women's rights protest: Published online March 3. Leyla B. Peachy is forcibly removed from the steps by Capitol police.

Photographer's note: The protest up to this point was peaceful. I actually thought the police might back off and diffuse the situation without arrests. Once they started removing people by force the mood turned heavy. I always carry two cameras and these images were taken with a zoom lens from about 60 feet away. The scene was chaotic but played out like it was slow motion. Many protestors had looks of disbelief.

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Arrests at the state capitol women's rights protest: Published online March 3. A police officer drags a protestor off the steps of the Capitol.

Photographer's note: I kept one eye on the main group of police making the arrests where 30 protestors sat directly in front of the entrance. But I also watched as a police officer dragged a young woman against her will off the steps. Soon other police arrived to help him. But the initial struggle between the young woman and the police officer on the pristine steps of the Capitol with the white columns in the backdrop made for an unbelievable moment.

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Taken Aback: Published March 7. A Virginia State Police officer guards the Capitol during the women's rights protest.

Photographer's note: Just by chance I ended up 10 feet away from this officer. We were eye to eye. She stared directly at me but not in an intimidating way. It's as if she understood that I was doing my job and she was doing hers. In any other instance I would have attempted to get her name but I would have had to cross police lines to do so.

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Into the Woods: Published Sept. 5. Guided by owner Ryan DiMarco, Art and Chain pull logs and brush from Susan Winter's backyard.

Photographer's note: DiMarco controlled the horses with a series of quiet commands. But when he gave the command to move forward, the horses displayed extreme power and continuity of step. I just knelt down low with a wide lens and tried to stay clear of 4,000 pounds of moving beast.

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Honeybees Take the Jefferson by Swarm: Published June 12. Beekeeper David Stover lifts a frame from the hive on the Jefferson Hotel's roof while Lemaire's executive chef, Walter Bundy, watches.

Photographer's note: Cool assignment. The hive is first of its kind in the city. With 50,000 bees inside the hive and no protection I was a little leery, but the situation begged for a wide angle view showing the alien-looking beekeepers' suits, the architecture of the hotel, the hive and the bees. The sun overhead illuminated the translucent frame.

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During a women's rights protest on March 3, hundreds of participants marched up Broad Street with signs and bullhorns.

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Jermione Royster leans on friend and sparring partner Freddie Lee Bell during a practice at an abandoned elementary school in Richmond's North Side.

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During a campaign stop by Mitt Romney on Oct. 31 at Meadow Event Park in Doswell, a man stopped the rally briefly when he held up a sign that said "End Climate Silence." He quickly was ushered from the building.

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On Nov, 5, the night before the election, John Mellencamp played in support of Joe Biden's campaign rally at Tredegar Iron Works.

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Darius Theus gets off a jump shot against Drexel in Virginia Commonwealth University’s Colonial Athletic Association championship victory in March.

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VCU coach Shaka Smart celebrates with his team at the Seigel Center after winning the conference championship in March.

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Sen. Mark Warner addresses a crowd at the Richmond Marriot on election night just after former Gov. Tim Kaine was elected to the Senate.

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Children at the Patrick Henry charter school race outside for recess.

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Protestors are dragged from the steps of the Capitol during a women's rights demonstration on March 3.

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Virginia State Police SWAT officers protect the Capitol during a women's rights protest on March 3.

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A Jamie Radtke supporter follows former Gov. George Allen through the crowd at the Wakefield Shad Planking. Allen was campaigning for a seat in the U.S. Senate.

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Fans of Gwar line up in the front row at the National in Richmond to be sprayed with fake blood, a signature of the band's live show.

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Felix, 85, and Pauline, 84 share a dance at the Chester Hardees. They've been married 65 years. Each Wednesday morning a honky-tonk band plays the fast-food restaurant.

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University of Richmond student Amber Roudette during a silent women's rights protest at the State Capitol.

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With flags whipping in a stiff wind, a couple hundred people gathered Feb. 26, at the Robert E. Lee Monument to celebrate a Sons of Confederate Veterans’ rally.

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Civil War re-enactor Chris Ezelle of Fredericksburg attends the Sons of Confederate Veterans National Heritage Rally at the Robert E. Lee Monument on Feb. 20.

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President Obama greets the crowd after giving a speech at the Carillon in Richmond. Approximately 15,000 people attended the event.

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Wendy May Martin pauses while marching up Broad Street during a women's rights protest March 3.

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Ralph Stanley performed at Ashland Coffee and Tea in support of Wayne Powell, who ran against Eric Cantor for the 7th District seat in the U.S. Congress.

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Presidential hopeful Mitt Romney stopped in Ashland to campaign Aug. 11, the day he named Paul Ryan to the ticket.

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A women’s rights protest at the state Capitol. Published online March 3. Four-year-old Iris meanders onto the Capitol steps. “We were having a peaceful and productive protest until the SWAT team showed up,” says Lynn English, Iris’ mother. “My daughter asked, ‘Why are they here and why are they dressed like that? I was baffled because the picture of them standing there was at odds with what was going on at the protest. But Iris had no fear of the police and was never afraid. She just kept on playing.’”

Photographer’s note: The stark difference between the child’s bright pink shirt and the police’s militaristic, dark clothing caught my eye from a distance. Just when I approached she ran up the steps and turned to look at her mother. She was on the steps only for a moment.

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