Pictures of the Year in Person

Join us for our annual Pictures of the Year presentation, featuring Seattle Times photographers’ most memorable photos of 2019 — and the stories behind them.

These pictures are worth 1,000 words — and a couple gentle nudges

This year’s event begins at 7 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 30, at the Seattle Central Library’s Microsoft Auditorium, 1000 Fourth Ave., Seattle. Admission is free, on a first-come, first-served basis.

(Ellen M. Banner / The Seattle Times)
(Ellen M. Banner / The Seattle Times)

Farewell to Our Thoroughfare | Jan. 11: Drivers and bicyclists gathered for one last ride on Seattle’s beloved Alaskan Way Viaduct on Jan. 11. Motorists honked their horns, stopped their cars, got out, cheered, yelled and took photos all evening long. The viaduct officially closed at 10 p.m., but the last car didn’t get off the roadway until after 11:30. The viaduct opened April 4, 1953, and even though many thought it was ugly, this event showed me how much it was truly loved.

— Ellen M. Banner / The Seattle Times

Now You See it … Now You Don’t | Jan. 13/May 19: One of the perks of working for The Seattle Times is they will pay you to ride a Ferris wheel, but you’d better come back with a picture. Two is even better. By mid-January, the Alaskan Way Viaduct had permanently closed, and I decided to make a set of final photos of the historical highway without traffic. To be honest, I also wanted to ride the Seattle Great Wheel, having never done so. Later, in May, I had another assignment along the waterfront and was struck by how rapidly the razing had progressed. I made a plan to go up again after taking note of all my camera settings from the first photo, so I could make a duplicate composition. This included the millimeter I was on when using a 24-70 zoom lens. I also sent the first photo to my cellphone so I could compare when taking the new one. Putting the two photos next to each other for the first time gave me the chills, especially with the Smith Tower at bull’s-eye center.

— Ken Lambert / The Seattle Times

(Steve Ringman / The Seattle Times)
(Steve Ringman / The Seattle Times)

A Salmon Thrashing | Jan. 16: Working on stories about the decline of salmon in our region, reporter Lynda Mapes and I were staking out the sea lions hunting chum salmon on the Nisqually River. After sitting for a couple hours staring through a new 600 mm sports lens, the action started. Guessing and prefocusing, I caught a surface break and the thrash of the sea lion ripping the salmon in two. After chimping a look at the photo, I sent Seattle Times sports photographer Dean Rutz a text, saying I had broken in our new $12,000 lens.

— Steve Ringman / The Seattle Times

(Bettina Hansen / The Seattle Times)
(Bettina Hansen / The Seattle Times)

A Song of Strength | Jan. 20: Jenn Eaglespeaker, Blackfeet Sioux, of Seattle, raises her fist while singing the AIM song, an intertribal Native song, at a rally in Seattle City Hall for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women. Eaglespeaker said she was singing for “our brother Nathan Phillips in Washington D.C.,” an Omaha elder and Vietnam-era veteran who was featured in a viral video singing the same song during a confrontation with high school students at the Lincoln Memorial a few days earlier. I’ve done several stories about Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, so naturally covered this march to City Hall, timed around but held separately from the Women’s March.

— Bettina Hansen / The Seattle Times

(Dean Rutz / The Seattle Times)
(Dean Rutz / The Seattle Times)

A Candid Candidate Moment | Jan. 22: I’ve been fortunate to cover a few presidential campaigns over the years, and the one thing I’ve learned is you just can’t script every moment. The wonderful thing about the early days of campaigning is that the candidate is accessible to everyone, and those are the moments that define his or her character and good humor. So it was for Gov. Jay Inslee, who went to New Hampshire to test his message before he announced his presidential candidacy. While meeting with student leaders at Dartmouth College, Inslee was asked about his carbon policy by a young woman as they prepared for a group picture. In the give-and-take, as I recall, something familiar emerged that led Inslee to ask her for more information about herself. She relented, identifying herself as the daughter of Washington State Rep. Doug Ericksen of Ferndale — a Republican and occasional critic of Inslee. What momentarily felt awkward led to a hearty laugh. Inslee and Elsa Ericksen seemed to revel in the chance meeting, and I was able to make just a frame or two in which the rehearsed gave way to something altogether genuine and memorable.

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— Dean Rutz / The Seattle Times

(Ken Lambert / The Seattle Times)
(Ken Lambert / The Seattle Times)

So Much to Focus on | Jan. 27: When audience members raised their phones, ready to capture the big Vietnamese martial arts finale performed by the Vovinam Association of Washington during the 23rd annual Tet in Seattle celebration, I was ready, too. The dilemma for me was, unlike the Seattle Center audience, where do I focus? I had tried some photos focusing on the performers, but for the finale, I opted to take a risk by focusing instead on the people with their backs to me holding their phones. I wasn’t sure I could get it into the newspaper. Instead, I was pleasantly surprised when this photo ran lead the next day. One of my favorite sayings is, “No risk, no reward,” and this definitely was the case here.

— Ken Lambert / The Seattle Times

(Steve Ringman / The Seattle Times)
(Steve Ringman / The Seattle Times)

Snow Tracks from the Sky | Feb. 4: Flying over a parking lot near Madrona Park, I was looking for a patterned snow photo when a car entered the frame and started spinning its wheels — adding that extra touch to a lucky moment.

— Steve Ringman / The Seattle Times

(Amanda Snyder / The Seattle Times)
(Amanda Snyder / The Seattle Times)

Learning the Hard Way | Feb. 24: Freshly shaven cadets fill the seats of Bremerton High School’s arena as they listen to their first instructions (and reprimands) from their soon-to-be sergeants. A few minutes earlier, these 165 teenagers said goodbye to their families to enroll in a 22-week program called The Washington Youth Academy, a division of the National Guard Youth Challenge program. The academy enrolls 16- to 18-year-olds from across the state who have dropped out of high school or are close to dropping out. The residential program uses military-style training, rigorous schooling and mentor relationships to help students earn credits and prepare for future employment or high school graduation.

— Amanda Snyder / The Seattle Times

(Mike Siegel / The Seattle Times)
(Mike Siegel / The Seattle Times)

Eye-to-Eye with the Needle | March 15: I was in a helicopter on an assignment to photograph Boeing property in Everett, Seattle and Renton, when we passed the Space Needle. I used a 200 mm lens to make this image of visitors enjoying the newly renovated, all-glass Observation Deck, where they were treated to an incredible 360-degree, unobstructed view of Seattle, Puget Sound and the Olympic Mountains on a clear day. The helicopter was flying at about 800 feet, giving me this birds-eye view of the top of the Needle and its visitors.

— Mike Siegel / The Seattle Times

(Ken Lambert / The Seattle Times)
(Ken Lambert / The Seattle Times)

A Warm, Airborne Celebration | March 18: I was roaming Bellevue Downtown Park after being asked by an editor to look for a weather feature. It was mid-March, and the Puget Sound area had completely emerged from its snow-crazed saga. I spotted Michael Ko, 19, of Sammamish, practicing “tricking” moves — which have their roots in taekwondo. Ko said he is a third-degree black belt, and this is the first time he had been in shorts and a T-shirt for the year. I like the picture because it is attention-getting (a photographer’s first wish), and it felt like a jump for joy as we headed toward warmer days.

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— Ken Lambert / The Seattle Times

(Ken Lambert / The Seattle Times)
(Ken Lambert / The Seattle Times)

Waste and Nature | March 19: I’m not sure my media tour guides felt the same way, but to me, the visual irony was almost too perfect: In Maple Valley, with Mount Rainier in the background, a bulldozer pushed trash in Area 7 at Cedar Hills Regional Landfill in March. I see in this image the challenges faced by an industry and politicians managing an ever-increasing population, while mounting trash builds in an area surrounded by sublime natural treasures. The photo was shot for a story on the county council decision between expanding the landfill, which is almost full, or something else.

— Ken Lambert / The Seattle Times

(Mike Siegel / The Seattle Times)
(Mike Siegel / The Seattle Times)

737 MAX Aftermath | March 27: Mike Sinnett, Boeing Commercial Airplanes vice president of product development and future airplane development, talks about the loss of two Boeing 737 MAX airplanes. Boeing held a news conference to respond to the tragic incidents. News conferences are always a challenge, and I’m always looking for a different angle. When the Boeing logo appeared on the screen, I situated myself to include that and to photograph Sinnett’s expressions, which matched the somber reason for the news conference.

— Mike Siegel / The Seattle Times

(Steve Ringman / The Seattle Times)
(Steve Ringman / The Seattle Times)

Sand Point Way Shootings | March 27: On my way home, my wife, Evelyn, her voice shaking over the phone, told me not to come. Police were forcing a man from his car at gunpoint in front of our home on Sand Point Way. I was close already, running through alleys with my camera gear and finally shooting a few frames from my driveway. The tally was high: The bus driver was shot; an innocent driver was shot and killed; and another driver was forced off the road, dying in his car. This tragedy was to close to home.

— Steve Ringman / The Seattle Times

(Erika Schultz / The Seattle Times)
(Erika Schultz / The Seattle Times)

They Care to Dance | April 5: Randy Cross and LV Glover dance at the Royal Esquire Club’s First Friday Networking Social in Columbia City. The men’s club celebrated its 70th year in 2018. “We take a lot of pride in putting on quality events and being supportive of our youth in the community and will continue to be a part of the great city of Seattle,” says club member Carl Copeland.

— Erika Schultz / The Seattle Times

(Ellen M. Banner / The Seattle Times)
(Ellen M. Banner / The Seattle Times)

When Things Come Crashing in | April 5: Linda and Tom Cook, married 31 years, both survived with just a few bumps and bruises after this telephone pole, one of 26 that collapsed on East Marginal Way South near Boeing Field, crashed through the roof of their vehicle and landed right between them. They couldn’t see each other because of the pole but could talk and knew they were OK. They had to wait in their car for an hour while first responders shut off power to the lines. Linda later joked that they wouldn’t be able to trade their car back in — they had one more year on the lease. Later tests showed that many of the poles had a great deal of rot.

— Ellen M. Banner / The Seattle Times

(Ken Lambert / The Seattle Times)
(Ken Lambert / The Seattle Times)

That was a Really Close Call | April 7: What I remember most about this April assignment is that I couldn’t find the number on a house, an address given to me by an editor. But once I decided to knock, anyway, I knew I was definitely in the right place. One look at Linda Cook and her husband of 31 years, Tom Cook, and I knew these two had gone through a near-death experience. Linda, like her husband, was covered in bruises all over her face, and showed me a photo of their damaged car that a rescue worker had sent. The couple had survived a highway utility-pole crash only days before. Linda said, “It’s amazing: A couple inches either way, and this would have been dramatically different.”

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— Ken Lambert / The Seattle Times

(Greg Gilbert / The Seattle Times)
(Greg Gilbert / The Seattle Times)

Follow the Bobbing Kayaker | April 27: It was my day off, and I was attending the celebration of Lake Union Drydock’s 100th anniversary at South Lake Union Park. The wind started kicking up out of the north, getting stronger and stronger. There were 2- and 3-foot waves on Lake Union, which almost never happens. I noticed this solo kayaker struggling to keep upright in the waves. She would drop down in a trough and then pop up again; the only thing visible was her head, just barely. I almost always carry a camera with me. I followed her progress from shore, moving sideways to keep up with her.

— Greg Gilbert / The Seattle Times

(Alan Berner / The Seattle Times)
(Alan Berner / The Seattle Times)

Deadly Crane Collapse | April 27: The call came to photo editor Angie Gottschalk: A crane had collapsed on Mercer Street near Fairview, just north of The Seattle Times’ offices. Reporter Evan Bush and I hustled over there. Two cars were crushed; the crane cab had separated; and emergency workers were standing, observing, arms by their sides. You knew it was a tragedy. You could hear the sirens of more approaching vehicles. I went into the street to make this image because the scene would soon be blocked by more fire trucks.

— Alan Berner / The Seattle Times

(Ellen M. Banner / The Seattle Times)
(Ellen M. Banner / The Seattle Times)

The Girl Swimming Among Swirls | July 1: Hannah Butler, 8, from Renton, cools off in the Cedar River at Maplewood Roadside Park on a warm summer day. She was there with her mother, who said they have driven by the park for years and finally decided to stop. When Hannah swam out of the sunshine into the shadow cast from the Cedar River Trail, which crosses over the river, the light was perfect, and I made the shot.

— Ellen M. Banner / The Seattle Times

(Ken Lambert / The Seattle Times)
(Ken Lambert / The Seattle Times)

Edgar! | July 21: In my experience, there are a handful of moments when subjects unexpectedly report their own story better than I could have photographed it. One was in July, when Edgar Martinez looked from the stage after finally being inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame. I had been leaning on the shutter button all weekend in Cooperstown, hoping to get something representative of the man, his accomplishments, his loving fans and a Seattle baseball legacy. Meanwhile, I was getting something quite opposite from that celebratory high after The Double: a plain, aged player who showed very little emotion through his acceptance speech. But then, this: a man who simply had loved baseball since childhood clutching his award. As other less-controversial inductees milled about in the background, this photo said to me: “The guy just keeps going and never quits.” I don’t think that can be argued, not even by those who kept voting to keep him out of the Hall of Fame for so many years.

— Ken Lambert / The Seattle Times

(Ellen M. Banner / The Seattle Times)
(Ellen M. Banner / The Seattle Times)

Seeing Seals by the Seashore | Aug. 5: Photojournalists at The Seattle Times are always looking for moments that don’t illustrate a story: weather photos, people in a park, animals — anything interesting we come across. I was driving in West Seattle and saw a huge group of people on the beach with binoculars, staring out at the Sound. I just had to stop. The group was Seal Sitters, and they were watching a mother and baby seal way out on a rock. They took shifts and were there from early morning till evening to keep anyone from getting too close, in order to protect the animals. I grabbed a long lens and watched, and then the little guy yawned. Priceless.

— Ellen M. Banner / The Seattle Times

(Erika Schultz / The Seattle Times)
(Erika Schultz / The Seattle Times)

Pacific Northwest Black Pride | Aug. 8: Randy Ford, a choreographer, dancer and creative, is photographed at the Seattle Art Museum. “It’s not about me just looking pretty on stage,” says Ford. “It’s about, how can I show you that you can love yourself as much as I do, and we can all be queens?” Last summer, in honor of Pacific Northwest Black Pride, reporter Crystal Paul and videographers Lauren Frohne and Corinne Chin spoke to 10 black, queer Seattleites from different backgrounds about their careers, their lives and their experiences. If you haven’t had a chance to see the project — please do so. All the community members, in their own words, share about a multitude of topics, including identity, safety, love and creating community.

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— Erika Schultz / The Seattle Times

(Alan Berner / The Seattle Times)
(Alan Berner / The Seattle Times)

No One Here has Run out of Steam | Aug. 10: Western Washington University professor John Harris sent word about the 2019 USATF Northwest Region & Pacific Northwest Association Masters Track & Field Championships. Could be a good story, and he was competing in the 100-meter dash, ages-65-to-69 category. I also thought, “I can do this, and maybe the high jump.” They all looked good and fast leaving the blocks, and the winner brought in a time of around 12 seconds. Harris finished in 15. I then thought, “I cannot do this.”

— Alan Berner / The Seattle Times

(Greg Gilbert / The Seattle Times)
(Greg Gilbert / The Seattle Times)

A Driving Dive | Aug. 12: Before the start of my 10 a.m. shift, Courtney Blethen, working on the picture desk, called to alert me that an out-of-control car had plunged into an indoor pool. When I arrived at the LA Fitness pool on Aurora Avenue North, a tow truck was already on the scene. I wasn’t allowed inside the pool area, so I shot through a very clean window, pressing my lens flat against the glass. Using a motor drive, on my hands and knees, I fired away as the Toyota was being pulled out. The driver had been rescued earlier. The first thing he asked was, “Where is my cellphone?”

— Greg Gilbert / The Seattle Times

(Erika Schultz / The Seattle Times)
(Erika Schultz / The Seattle Times)

It’s a Marvelous Night for a Moon Swim | Aug. 14: Swimmers jump off the diving board at Madison Park Beach on Lake Washington in August. While on assignment for another story, I saw the moon rise and the group of swimmers just off the shore. It was one of those beautiful summer evenings that inspired me (and hopefully others!) to enjoy summer swimming before the warmth slipped away.

— Erika Schultz / The Seattle Times

(Alan Berner / The Seattle Times)
(Alan Berner / The Seattle Times)

A Little Long in the Tooth | Aug. 16: At the Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium, Kirana the Sumatran tiger had a complicated crown root fracture and defect requiring a visit to the dentist. It takes a team to do the work, in-house. I was invited as the only outside media and accepted. It’s something few get to see — and I got to touch Kirana’s coat and paw.

— Alan Berner / The Seattle Times

(Dean Rutz / The Seattle Times)
(Dean Rutz / The Seattle Times)

A Kiss for King Felix | Sept. 26: While it was known that this particular game would be Felix Hernandez’s last as a Mariner, no one really knew how the evening would play out. Probably not even Felix, who, despite being a perennial fan favorite, could only guess at the extent of adulation heaped upon him. Reportedly, he had wanted to address the King’s Court faithful as he took the mound for the last time — and that was something we all positioned ourselves to capture. But when that didn’t happen, the question became, “How will this play out?” He repeatedly saluted fans during the game, and his removal by manager Scott Servais yielded a heartfelt and tearful goodbye. But much like Ichiro, who retired from baseball at the beginning of the season, Hernandez was drawn to the crowd after the game in a way that he could return some of that affection. As he walked the left-field wall and basked in the fans’ love, you had a sense that every great athlete who denies themselves this moment is missing out on something special. And then a woman suddenly reached out and planted a great big kiss on his left cheek. I don’t even know whether it registered on Felix. He was so clearly overwhelmed — and relieved — that I’m sure it was nearly impossible for him to absorb every moment as it occurred. For me, it was a great pleasure to go the distance with a good man whose career will best be defined by his time in Seattle.

— Dean Rutz / The Seattle Times

(Alan Berner / Seattle Times)
(Alan Berner / Seattle Times)

A Gentle Touch | Oct. 2: Seattle Parks and Recreation concierge Chuck Scott seeks to “set a positive and inviting tone” and “stem negative behavior” in his dealings with tourists, workers and homeless people. With skill, Scott knows what approach to use with each park user. Here, at a safe distance, he gently tries to awaken a man under a sleeping bag in Pioneer Square Park after calling out to him. You can sit on a bench all day, but not take up the entire bench.

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— Alan Berner / Seattle Times

(Andy Bao / The Seattle Times)
(Andy Bao / The Seattle Times)

A True Shouting Match | Oct. 4: Diving into the world of indie wrestling was incredibly exciting to be part of and to photograph. Everyday people would don their wrestling personalities, jump in the ring and just have fun. “Where else am I allowed to fight someone in fancy underwear?” said wrestler Steve West, center, in a Seattle match against “The Bird,” with referee Aubrey “Gearl Hebner” Edwards, left, trying to intervene.

— Andy Bao / The Seattle Times

(Andy Bao / The Seattle Times)
(Andy Bao / The Seattle Times)

The Ballard Fire from up High | Oct. 7: I was filling up my car at a gas station before my shift started when my editor called about the three-alarm fire in Ballard. “Where are you right now?” he asked. I knew from those words it was bad news. With the fire mostly blocked off by emergency responders, I scouted around for photos until I decided to take a chance and look for a spot higher up. A business was nice enough to let me onto their balcony to take photos, giving me a view that no other media member had.

— Andy Bao / The Seattle Times

(Ken Lambert / The Seattle Times)
(Ken Lambert / The Seattle Times)

Winging it | Oct. 10: When it comes to feature photography, I often think of myself as a detective, sifting through visual clues that pull me from one hunch to the next, and so you should read the following in Humphrey Bogart’s voice: As I’m often asked to do, I look for weather photos. It’s an assignment that often yields beautiful surprises, because our weather often changes within minutes. I was driving through the View Ridge neighborhood and looking at Lake Washington from above when my editor called and asked me to check out some changing leaves. “I will,” I told him. “Right after I check out some fog on Lake Washington.” I pointed the car downhill to Magnuson Park and found a single cormorant unfolding its wings in the early morning sun. Later, I sent a bunch of leaf photos back to the office. But it was that cormorant that led the local page the next day. Case closed.

— Ken Lambert / The Seattle Times

(Alan Berner / The Seattle Times)
(Alan Berner / The Seattle Times)

Sweet 15, and a Sweet Surprise | Oct. 12: As I headed to the Seattle Center Armory to check out an event, Dulce Ramos was seated on the Mural Amphitheatre lawn, amid her expansive Quinceañera dress, having portraits taken. I approached the family, introduced myself and asked whether I could cover Dulce’s 15th birthday celebration in Marysville the following month. They agreed. Dulce and her honored escorts, the chambelanes, were practicing a choreographed dance outside. It’s one of the great events I’ve gotten to photograph. After Dulce’s ceremonial transition into womanhood came a big surprise: Her father knelt and proposed to her mom. They’d been together 17 years. The entire event lasted eight hours. It was a good evening.

— Alan Berner / The Seattle Times

(Erika Schultz / The Seattle Times)
(Erika Schultz / The Seattle Times)

Fall Rainfall | Oct. 16: Guide Mary Ann Cahill walks through the Seattle Japanese Garden, which was ablaze in fall colors in mid-October. “It’s my second home here,” she said. That evening, a rainstorm opened up and started to engulf the park. As I was making my way to the exit, I saw Cahill borrow one of the garden’s red umbrellas and walk back on to the trails. Even though I wanted to seek cover from the rain, I ended up staying until the garden’s close — hoping to share the beautiful (and soggy) moment.

— Erika Schultz / The Seattle Times

(Alan Berner / The Seattle Times)
(Alan Berner / The Seattle Times)

A Turn Toward Victory | Nov. 9: It’s not often you hear Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels referenced by a political candidate, yet alone in a positive way. But Kshama Sawant is the only socialist on the Seattle City Council. On election night, she was down by 10 percentage points, but when all the votes were in, the incumbent had a close victory, her third. At the celebratory gathering, Sawant strode in a side door, fist raised, moving to the podium. Glancing over her shoulder to supporters, there was a rare twinkle in her eye.

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— Alan Berner / The Seattle Times

(Mike Siegel / The Seattle Times)
(Mike Siegel / The Seattle Times)

737 MAX Ghost Plane | Nov. 13: I had been to the Grant County International Airport in Moses Lake before, to photograph the first 78 737 MAX planes stored there last summer. After we heard there were nearly 200 planes stacked up along the runway in November, I went back. I rented a small plane to photograph this scene from the air and noticed how some of the planes had no airline markings on them. After landing, I made this photograph of a 737 MAX called a ghost plane, or whitetail. They are painted white because the airlines they were built for no longer want them. They will be painted with a new livery (airline logo and colors) after the plane is ungrounded and Boeing secures a customer. Mike, the pilot I hired to fly me around the airport, did an excellent job banking the plane just right while holding my window open with his right hand so I could photograph the planes below.

— Mike Siegel / The Seattle Times

(Greg Gilbert / The Seattle Times)
(Greg Gilbert / The Seattle Times)

Courtroom Tributes to a Fallen Officer | Nov. 15: Kent Police officer Diego Moreno died during a high-speed chase; the teenage driver who caused Moreno’s death was being sentenced at the King County Courthouse. Covering sentencings can be hard. The first thing you do is adjust the camera to silent shutter mode. You try to be as inconspicuous as possible. Then you crank up the ISO to 6,000, 8,000 or 10,000 (the light in some of the courtrooms isn’t the best). Members of the media are in the jury box during sentencing. I looked out into the audience, and there was Alejandra Moreno, Diego Moreno’s sister, at left, with Diego’s mother, Lizzie Lee, sobbing while listening to tributes to the fallen officer. It was obvious that Moreno was highly respected and loved.

— Greg Gilbert / The Seattle Times

(Mike Siegel / The Seattle Times)
(Mike Siegel / The Seattle Times)

An Emotional Moment | Dec. 3: The University of Washington held a news conference the day after football coach Chris Petersen’s stunning announcement that he was stepping down. At the same time, new coach Jimmy Lake was introduced. News conferences are difficult for interesting photos. I had watched Petersen the entire time and noticed how he was at times overcome by the emotion of leaving his job. I got into a position where I could see Petersen and Lake at the same time. I captured Petersen here as he paused while fighting back tears when talking about his family.

— Mike Siegel / The Seattle Times