During the past decade, as century-old printed publications have faded away while Internet entrepreneurs continue to craft a news industry for the 21st century, journalism has endured nothing short of a revolution. But despite the power of the tweet, the globe-connecting machinations of social Web sites, and the democratization of media that’s allowed everyone and quite literally their mothers to become bloggers, one of the oldest clichés still stands as true as ever: When it comes to telling the stories that define our lives, a photograph is still worth at least 1,000 words, whether it’s in your favorite magazine or on your computer screen.
Nowhere is that more evident than in Santa Barbara, where every day, perfect sunsets light up a stunning landscape outside while inside we passionately battle before decision makers about how the region should evolve in the coming years. Luckily for The Santa Barbara Independent, we’re able to send longtime staff photographer Paul Wellman into those scenes with complete confidence that he will emerge with the exact images needed to convey the emotions of each story, whether it’s someone fighting to save the Gaviota Coast or a UCSB track star setting yet another record.
Each year, we get to sit back and reflect on Wellman’s work — not to mention the contributions of onstage shooter David Bazemore and some occasional others — in this annual Years in Pictures issue, a collection of the year’s best photographs, but also a de facto year-in-review for the faces and places that made headlines in Santa Barbara in 2011. So grab a seat and take a look at our year that was.
Photos by Paul Wellman unless otherwise noted.