Looking back at 2023 in California is a lot to unpack.
Devastating winter floods submerged entire towns. Another mass shooting took 11 lives in Monterey Park. Unions in a wide variety of industries flexed their muscles during “hot labor summer.” Gov. Gavin Newsom, in his second term, drew as much attention for his trips around the country and around the globe as for his actions at home. And the Israel-Hamas war and resulting humanitarian crisis in Gaza put politicians on the spot and divided California’s campuses.
Reflecting on a year is also about real people affected by the decisions of the powerful — those in search of affordable housing, or waiting for justice in police killings, or hoping for more protection from discrimination or seeking opportunity in a new land.
And while issues and politicians may change, a constant is California’s natural beauty — wildflowers in bloom, mountains set in front of sunsets, an unusual rock formation in the middle of a lake.
So here’s our holiday gift to you — a selection of the year’s most compelling images by CalMatters photo journalists and contributors.