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Through a Lens Darkly: A Photographer’s Journey Through Los Angeles

December 21, 2020

Ted Soqui

Ted Soqui

Ted Soqui is a Los Angeles-based photographer.

A look at L.A.’s best and worst year.


2020 yielded a collection of photographs that many photojournalists would be satisfied to capture in a career, let alone in one city and year. It was a time of amazing turmoil, sadness and danger to capture on camera. I generally use wide angle lenses and tend to work close and capture the emotion of my subjects. COVID-19 changed that. This year I switched over to telephoto lenses and drone photography to create a buffer to avoid contracting the coronavirus or getting attacked during the turmoil. Here is a small selection of images I photographed this year in Los Angeles County.


Co-published by L.A. Taco.

This was the beginning of 2020 for me. Fans of Kobe Bryant gather at L.A. Live to mourn for Kobe and his daughter, Gigi Bryant, who both died in a tragic helicopter crash in Calabasas. Several weeks later, both L.A. Live and the Staples Center would be shut down due to COVID concerns. 1/27/2020 L.A. Live, Downtown Los Angeles.

Fire Drill Friday protest and rally at Los Angeles City Hall led by Jane Fonda and Greenpeace. Actors and activists marched from L.A. City Hall to Pershing Square to demand that leaders address climate change.

Actor and activist Joaquin Phoenix was up for a Best Actor Academy Award for his work in Joker. Later in the year Los Angeles would be in turmoil – much like the fictional Gotham City. 2/7/2020 City Hall, Downtown Los Angeles.

People lining up to go inside the Martin B. Retting gun shop. Wait times were up to several hours long. The shop experienced long lines after the COVID-19 outbreak began to accelerate in the L.A. area. The shop sold out its inventory of guns and ammo. 3/16/2020 Culver City.

The 110 Freeway mostly empty due to shelter-at-home orders. The freeway looked like a scene from an apocalyptic film. 3/20/2020 Downtown Los Angeles.

The US Naval hospital ship Mercy docked in L.A.’s harbor. The ship was used to serve the public for non-COVID related health issues and surgeries. During its L.A. berth, someone hijacked a locomotive and attempted to wreck it into the Mercy to sink it. 3/29/2020 L.A. Harbor.

Sheila Marie Young, MD, standing in the rain directing the public at a mobile in-car test site for the COVID-19 virus at Charles Drew University. This site was opened to serve the minority communities of South Los Angeles. 4/8/2020 Charles Drew University, South Los Angeles.

Stay-at-home orders are extended in Los Angeles County. A McDonald’s restaurant employee walks past a giant “Stay at Home Life Is Beautiful” sign painted on La Brea Avenue. 5/14/2020 Mid-City, Los Angeles.

Police officers clearing demonstrators off the 110 Freeway. The demonstration was in reaction over the death of George Floyd, who had been killed by police officers in Minneapolis earlier in the week. L.A.’s freeways would be shut down periodically by protesters with various issues ranging from Black Lives Matter (BLM) to support for Armenia. 5/29/2020 Downtown Los Angeles.

A group of protesters holding signs face off against LAPD officers on Fairfax Avenue over the death of George Floyd. The area’s small businesses would be vandalized and looted, and several police cars were set ablaze. 5/30/2020 Fairfax District, Los Angeles.

Protesters victoriously stand atop an LAPD cruiser at the intersection of Fairfax Avenue and Beverly Boulevard -- it had been destroyed during citywide rioting over the death of George Floyd. 5/30/2020 Fairfax District, Los Angeles.

Heavily armed National Guard troops deploy out front of the TCL Chinese Theatre. It looked like a scene from a blockbuster action film that would have debuted at the theater. 6/2/2020 Hollywood.

BLM protest outside L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti’s residence. The mayor’s home would become a focal point most of the year for issues ranging from rent relief, BLM and blocking Mayor Garcetti from being selected to the Biden cabinet. 6/2/2020 Mid-Wilshire District.

All Black Lives Matter design painted on Hollywood Boulevard. Shot this photo from the penthouse view at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel. 6/14/2020

Comet Neowise in the early morning sky above the Hollywood sign. The comet came from deep space and does a 6,766-year orbit around the sun. 7/12/2020 Hollywood.

The air above Los Angeles turned copper due to wildfires burning in the region. L.A. went from having 21 smog-free days early in the year to having its smoggiest air in decades this year. 9/10/2020 Echo Park Lake, Los Angeles.

Sidewalk memorial for Eddie Van Halen, who died earlier that week from complications of cancer. The founding member of the rock group Van Halen had once scrawled “Van Halen” on a sidewalk near his favorite liquor store when his band was just starting to gain some fame. 10/9/2020 Pasadena.

The World Series game shown live at a makeshift drive-in inside the Dodger Stadium parking lot. The World Series was played under “bubble” style conditions at a stadium in Texas to protect the teams from COVID. 10/25/2020

Doviah Pollard, 11, watches a “Jackie Lacey Will Go” action held by BLMLA. Jackie Lacey was voted out of office as L.A. County district attorney. BLMLA held weekly actions calling for Lacey’s removal from office for her inaction in the cases of “killer cops” in Los Angeles. 11/4/2020 Hall of Justice, Downtown Los Angeles.

A group of protesters supporting BLM and police defunding issues in Los Angeles. This photo shows the fashion of young protesters. 11/6/2020 Downtown Los Angeles.

Los Angeles residents celebrate the Biden/Harris election win in Pershing Square. This was the first time this year I witnessed real joy at a protest. 11/7/2020 Downtown Los Angeles.

A victory march for the Biden/Harris presidential bid at L.A. City Hall. Photographed this with a drone above Grand Park and captured a great sky behind City Hall. 11/7/2020 City Hall, Los Angeles.

A Biden/Harris victory marcher took a moment to admire his U.S. flag as he stood on the steps of City Hall. LAPD armed with nonlethal weapons were lined up behind him. 11/7/2020 Downtown Los Angeles

A celebration over the Biden/Harris presidential win broke out on Santa Monica Boulevard. A mother and daughter hold each other tightly and joyfully watch the celebrations. Another rare moment of joy I captured this year. 11/7/2020 West Hollywood.

The Cinerama Dome movie theater in Hollywood, photographed from above with a drone. Los Angeles County theaters and entertainment venues remain closed during stay-at-home orders issued by both the State of California and Los Angeles County. The dome looked like a giant corona virus from above. 12/7/2020.

Copyright Capital & Main 2020