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Here are the most stunning reader photos of 2020

It was a year like no other.

"Lobster boat in Marblehead in August 2020." Submitted by Eileen, @eil_photography.

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2020 was a year defined by loss and political unrest. More than 300,000 Americans died with the coronavirus. Protesters called for racial justice. Record-breaking numbers of voters cast their ballots to elect a new president. Getting caught with showing the lower half of your face in public became a faux pas. Many offices and schools shifted remotely, resulting in home kitchens operating simultaneously as conference rooms and classrooms. At the same time, more time at home meant families got closer, people grew to appreciate an in-person hug a little more, and new virtual communities online helped people connect in ways they hadn’t before. When asked to describe 2020 fully, one might struggle to find the right words.

We asked Boston.com readers to submit their best photos of the year. Over 150 readers submitted photos of some of their favorite moments. Many found peace in nature, and beauty in places at home. (Inspiration was not far, we do live in New England, after all.) Serene sunsets, vibrant fall foliage, shots from a vacant city, and surprisingly several swans, all helped to capture what life was like for you in 2020. And it wasn’t all bad. We chose our favorite photos that were visually stunning or included a caption that resonated with us, or both, for a year like no other.

Here’s a roundup of the best reader-submitted photos from 2020

Some captions were edited lightly for clarity.

“It is my favorite picture of the year because the dock is empty and one can witness a beautiful sunset and take in the moment. It takes away the chaotic feeling of current time with Covid.” — Winthrop, Mass.

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“Happened to be in Boston on 11/7 – the day that Biden officially became President-elect. Walking through the Public Garden at sunset and snapped this picture looking up Newbury Street.”

“Poppy is a one year old English cream golden retriever. She loves spending time on her private roof deck in Southie overlooking the city.”

“Regardless of what is going on in the human world, the life of a swan continues as normal.”

“Living in South Boston in 2020 meant lots of walks around Castle Island. This photo was taken right after the snow storm in Mid-December and captures a different perspective of a view I have become very accustomed to over the past year.”

“Brewster sunset on the flats July 19, 2020 on Cape Cod it’s my favorite because the world was so quiet at that moment. There was harmony in the balance of the sunset and I took a moment to just breathe.”

“The Make Way for Ducklings statue masked up and surrounded by Boston Strong marathon daffodils.”

“October 31st at the Hopkinton State Park. A bright beautiful Halloween morning with a fresh snowfall.”

“This photo was taken with my Apple smart phone just before sunset.”

“2020 was a tough year for many. I took this picture early on Dec 19th and for me it represents the hope and prosperity ahead. There is in fact light at the end.”

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“The city mirrored in the harbor. You can flip this photo upside-down and barely tell it’s not correct!”

“Picture of my little girl as we waited for a drive-in movie (E.T.) this summer.” Topsfield, MA.

“One of my favorite photos. A quiet morning at Auburndale Cove.”

“6 year old Anna wants to help fight Covid-19.”

“Beautiful Boston Skyline – we were at the Lookout Rooftop and Bar at the Envoy Hotel.”

“Stuffed animals as social distance buffers on Hanover Street in the North End.”

“A few brave kids dashing into the warm summer sea.”

Wellesley, MA.

“Mayflower.”

“During the pandemic I mountain biked daily to clear my head and appreciate the day.”

“The beach has always been mine and my children’s happy place. Especially for an amazing sunset. This was taken on revere beach. It was magic.”

“Scituate Light, May 2020. For all the challenges this year, there were still some beautiful moments.”

Fall time near Old North Church in Boston.

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“View of Venus from a backyard in Beverly.”

“Our dog, Henry, was a COVID rescue like so many other new 4-legged family members. Here is a shot of him finding a shady spot in the park on a sunny October day.”

“I took this photo recently and I just love the way the colors in the sky blend together. Not to mention the Water Tower, Winthrop’s greatest landmark, is featured front and center with the houses around it lit up.”

“One of my favorite views in the city, regardless of season.”

“My boyfriend and I were standing in line waiting for our table at a local Cape Cod restaurant, and I was able to capture this fiery sunset in Sesuit Harbor.”

“Summer afternoon in Hartland, Vermont. August 2020.”

“I am blessed to have conservation land as my back yard in Natick, MA. Every year I take a shot to capture the foliage when it peaks and this year did not disappoint.”

“Camp 4th of July, 2020. Still together, but finally somewhere else.” Highland Lake, Stoddard, N.H.

“Capturing Comet Neowise from Halibut Point this summer was one of my favorite shots and experiences. Capturing the reflection of the tail in the calm water of the quarry was a bonus.”

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“Back in April, when the unknowns of the pandemic were so new and scary and raw, it was powerful to have this iconic UMass Amherst setting — the W. E. B. Du Bois Library and Campus Pond — ablaze in blue to honor front line workers.”

A hopeful double rainbow over Merrymeeting Lake in New Durham November 28, 2020.

“Whether it’s catching the neighborhood pond at dawn or the sun setting over the snowy front yard, snapping photos close to home made us realize the beauty around us. Meet our pandemic rescue puppy, Bailey, catching a serene moment to check out the joggers and kids on bikes going by, from under her favorite bush. Our family has spent so much time outside and it is a source of calm that has been so important this year.”

“My daughter on top of the Artist’s Bluff trail up in The White Mountains. A beautiful girl and beautiful foliage.”

“This photo is from Winthrop of the Boston Harbor, and it features a swan.”

“The depth and color makes this one stand out in the crowd..also a favorite on Instagram.”

“These images honor the forward momentum of the Black Lives Matter movement in Boston, how its powerful and proactive summons helped catalyze and congregate communities across the city.”

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“I took a photo everyday for this whole year. Had the beach to myself during this crazy storm at Duxbury beach.”

“The Old Stone Church in West Boylston is a popular, photogenic location. On this early fall morning, the water was calm, the sky was colorful making the place just magical.”

“Went out paddle boarding on a foggy day in October in Hull. The fog was very thick. The sun was barely shining through. I yelled over to a guy on land if he could take a photo of me and text it to me. The photo came out pretty nice.”

Outside JT Farnham’s in Essex with my daughter. The water was so still in the marsh it looks like she is staring at a painting.

“One of my favorite images from my fall road trip this September. With the colors peaking so early this year, I had many popular destinations to myself. On the way home from this amazing weekend, I pulled over for the fleeting moments of sun hitting the mountains of foliage in the background. Really pumped with the result of this image.”

“Halloween 2020 — Medfield State Hospital”

Lawrence, Mass.

“There’s nothing is better than catching a sunrise by the ocean.”

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“Lobster boat in Marblehead in August 2020.”

“Our twins were born prematurely this July. This was one of their first pictures together when they were finally reunited after being separated in the NICU. They have Brought us so much light in a time of darkness.”

“It’s simply the most gorgeous and unusual array of color in the the sky. It was a beautiful summer day in July and it was taken from our rooftop deck in Southie. So staying home isn’t so bad with views like these.”

“At the top of Killington, pre-pandemic: Peaceful, perfect day!”

“This is my son Riley (26) fishing at sunset at Skaket Beach in Orleans this summer. Picture was taken by his older brother Braden.”

“Our covid Puppy, Rudy Jude, at Woodneck Beach at Sippewissett in Falmouth on a brief family trip over Thanksgiving. It is a stunning picture from a beautiful moment of reprieve.”

“Great colors this fall that made the inability to travel a little easier to take.” Franklin, Mass.

“Dawn over Ryders Cove in Chatham, while launching for tuna fishing in August. The colors shown are real; no filters whatsoever. Those purples exploded to fiery oranges and reds few minutes later in subsequent photos. I think the colors and stillness are striking, with the the sun just starting to rise in the distance outside the harbor entrance.”

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“Taken very early in the morning at Millennium Park in West Roxbury. Beautiful and peaceful nature in the city. You can’t see it but there is also a fawn present.”

“Beautiful and fiery summer sunset over the fields of Essex Tech.”

“This is my favorite photo because it captures a beautiful evening sunset in the middle of August. I felt a sense of serenity and wonder in the stillness of nature.” Dennis, Mass.

“As water reflects the face, so one’s life reflects the heart. Fall in the White Mountains!”

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