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The year in photos: Our pick of images from 2021


It’s hard to say whether 2021 was a better year for This Is Reno photographers than was 2020. As with last year, they covered their share of protests and demonstrations, fires and homeless camp sweeps. They also endured abuse–including threats of arrest by Reno Police officers–and lungfuls of smoke in one of the worst wildfire seasons we’ve seen in recent years.

There were splashes of color too, though, quite literally. The painting of Locomotion Plaza was a multi-day affair that resulted in a full gallery of images, and Reno’s Pride Festival crammed the same amount of colorful energy into a single parade. Hot air balloons returned to the skies, bulls returned to the rodeo ring and the Wolf Pack and Reno Aces returned to their games, bringing back some of the community energy locals yearned for.

Our photographers also lined up to document one of the most awaited FedEx deliveries Reno has even seen, and likewise went to numerous vaccination events where people were smiling, giving thumbs up and breathing a collective sigh of relief.

We’ve gathered up our picks for the top photos of 2021 in the galleries below. Enjoy!

The fires

Photographing fires is no easy task. Just ask photographer Ty O’Neil who said the Dixie Fire was the worst he’d ever seen. That statement came in a year when he covered that massive burn along with the Beckwourth Complex, Tamarack and Caldor fires. Closer to home, Eric Marks got in on the fire action too, unexpectedly while out with his dog. Oh, and there was that herd of sheep.

The protests

Our collective outrage continued in ’21, we’re just not all on the same page as to what we’re outraged against. Whether it’s a “stolen election” that was definitively not stolen or homeless sweeps and the utter inhumanity of relocating people week after week without adequate shelter, there was a sign for it.

We saw new issues taken up, including Asian American hate and support for Palestinians, and the ongoing support of Black Lives Matter. Here’s a look back at how the community stood up for their beliefs, some a little more off-kilter than others (we’re talking to you Kraken lady).

Arts & Entertainment

“Worth the wait,” was the common sentiment from many when it came to live music and events including Artown. After a year-and-a-half without a concert or live theater, it’s safe to say we were all feeling giddy when those first shows began to go on sale. Photographer Tony Contini was so relieved to be back in the mosh pit he actually shed a few tears–at a metal concert no less.

Shows started out a little light, but attendance picked up alongside vaccinations. It’s safe to say, we love our live entertainment.


This Is Reno expanded coverage this year to include more sports reporting, and our photographers didn’t disappoint. Seasoned sports photographer Mike Smyth joined the crew to cover the Wolf Pack and Ty took photos of his first baseball game–which you probably wouldn’t have realized if we hadn’t just told you.

In Reno, though, there’s much more than just the big name teams, as you’ll see in our sports gallery.

Reno scenes

Not everything that This Is Reno features can fit into a tidy category. Our photographers travel across northern Nevada and at all hours of the day and night to document our community and the people who live in it. Our community gallery features a mix of joy and sadness, crime and celebration, and everything in between.

Kristen Hackbarth
Kristen Hackbarth
Kristen Hackbarth is a freelance editor and communications professional with more than 20 years’ experience working in marketing, public relations and communications in northern Nevada. Kristen graduated from the University of Nevada, Reno with a degree in photography and minor in journalism and has a Master of Science in Management and Leadership. She also serves as director of communications for Nevada Cancer Coalition, a statewide nonprofit. Though she now lives in Atlanta, she is a Nevadan for life and uses her three-hour time advantage to get a jump on the morning’s news.




A look back: Reno’s 2020 in photos

In 2020, This Is Reno's photographers shared with us images that captured a year no one could have anticipated.