There’s no doubt about it: 2007 was one of the more photograph-friendly years in recent memory here in Santa Barbara.
The perilous Zaca Fire cast a symbolic shadow on the county all summer long, and a very real one, too, such as during those many times when the blaze’s plume towered over town (pictured above). It afforded some of the more dramatic scenes ever in our backcountry as the firefighters worked hard to save the forest and put many mountain dwellers on edge when it threatened to crest the ridgeline and explode into town.
Then there was the stabbing murder in broad daylight of a teenager by teens in the middle of town, perhaps the most shocking crime of the 21st century in Santa Barbara. A teenage lineup on State Street? A cop pulling a knife from a trashcan? Police tape blocking off the swanky Saks Fifth Avenue? Albeit a tragic afternoon, you couldn’t design a more camera-ready scene.
Meanwhile, the directionless Iraq War continued to affect us here on the South Coast, with the Arlington West memorial maxing out at 3,000 crosses and one Carpinteria son coming home in a coffin. Perhaps more distressing is the very real impacts of global warming, and Santa Barbara played host to many speakers and community debates on that controversial topic.
But it wasn’t all mayhem and murder. The Santa Barbara Bowl packed in the crowds for some of rock music’s biggest stars and UCSB’s Arts & Lectures continued to wow audiences with speakers and performances of the highest caliber. The Santa Barbara International Film Festival brought Hollywood to State Street for a couple winter weeks, presenting the opportunity to catch superstars cavorting on our very own red carpets.
And who was there to take it all in and give it back to us in the form of crisp ‘n’ clean photographs? The Indy’s tireless staff photographer Paul Wellman, whose work graces the following pages.
So take a look as the year comes to a close and reflect on the news we all shared together. It’s been quite a busy 12 months, and there’s no sign of it slowing up in 2008.
Happy New Year.