Like the rest of the world, the entertainment industry came to a screeching halt amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Australians lurched from bushfires to lockdown, supported the Black Lives Matter movement, and watched the US presidential election result be drawn out on a knife’s edge.
Now that this ‘unprecedented time’ is wrapping up, we can look back to some of the images that captured life in 2020.
Olivia McGrath, News and Entertainment senior assignment editor at Getty Images, said the top 10 images from Australia and the world paint a picture of hardship and resilience.
“Going through the photos to select our top photos this year I found quite interesting and quite eye opening, and maybe even a little bit emotional as well,” Ms McGrath told The New Daily.
“It’s pretty crazy to think what we’ve been through this year.”
The famous Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston reunion (or ‘reconciliation’, depending on how much of an optimist you are) was Getty’s top picture of the year across the globe.
Ms McGrath said photographer Emma McIntyre instinctively knew a memorable moment was coming.
“[McIntyre] was working between two backstage areas,” she said.
“Jen was backstage signing posters after receiving an award and was about to go and do her red carpet, and Emma was like, ‘OK, I’ll run to the next room’, and she saw Brad coming down the hallway, so she thought, ‘I’ll just hang out here and see what happens’.
“This moment is such an intimate, candid moment between two old friends and ex-partners.
“They’re genuinely happy to see one another and congratulate one another on their success.”
Though the thought of being in a massive, sweaty mosh is terrifying at the tail end of 2020, there was a point in the not-too-distant past when Australians were keen to come together for a good cause.
“We had that awful, awful summer of bushfires, months and months, and people dying, animals dying, people losing homes,” Ms McGrath said.
“This was such an important even for Australians. It gave people an opportunity to support those who were impacted to give thanks to the firefighters who had been tirelessly working for months and months.
“There was sheer joy there, there was so much joy because we’d just come out of such a terrible time.”
Little did we know we’d need to hold on tight to that stamina we’d built.
Katy Perry arrived Down Under for the women’s cricket World Cup and stayed to celebrate our firefighters.
She also celebrated her pregnancy to actor Orlando Bloom.
The Teenage Dream singer was papped on March 11, just a week before Australia entered its first lockdown.
Pop icon Lady Gaga took out five awards at the MTV VMAs, and had almost as many costume changes.
For Getty photographers, shooting the world’s first mid-pandemic awards show brought its own challenges.
“We had a complete off-site editing workflow to limit the number of people that were on site,” Ms McGrath explained.
“There were really strict COVID protocols in place, so our photographers actually had to undergo several COVID tests.”
For the rest of the world, the Super Bowl half-time show is infinitely more exciting than the game.
Jennifer Lopez and Shakira’s duet was extra special considering it was the last big event before COVID-19 hit the US.
“It’s actually really hard to capture this type of image because the half-time show happens so fast,” Ms McGrath said.
“They set up the stage and everything in between the commercial breaks, it all happens really quickly, and that includes photographers having to run into position on the field from being up in the stadium.
“To get a clean shot of them both looking great considering, if you know them as performers and how physical they are, it just adds another element.”
Like many of us, Emma Watkins, known better as ‘Emma Wiggle’, was also confined to Zoom and live-streaming.
“Emma Wiggle, an iconic Australian performer, in an iconic Australian performance space, which is the Sydney Opera House,” Ms McGrath said.
“2020 has definitely been a year of virtual, and live-streaming the year of the pivot.”
After years of Emmy snubs, Schitt’s Creek came out strong in 2020 and performed what became known as the the Schitt’s sweep, clearing out all nine awards for a comedy show.
“Even though they’re wearing masks (which is so 2020), you can still see the joy in their faces and how stoked they are,” Ms McGrath said.
“It’s not mean comedy and it doesn’t poke fun at people, and in the context of the year that we’ve had and how difficult it’s been, people really identified with that element of it.”
Rapper Travis Scott was pictured in California in September, but not all is at it seems.
“What’s really interesting about this photo is that it comes across as really calm, poised moment – it feels like an intimate moment of a man with his nugget,” Ms McGrath said.
“But the reality of this is that it’s absolute chaos. There were so many fans around there just screaming at Travis.
“He was supposed to smile and pose but then there was this unfiltered, this candid moment where he’s dipping his nugget in his sauce and it’s just this quiet moment despite what the reality was.
“It really speaks to a photographer’s ability to filter out the noise and anticipate and wait for the moment to come.”
Sydney-based drag queen Maxi Shield swapped the stage for the screen in 2020, but she knew the show must go on.
“With performers no longer able to perform in venues a lot of them started doing virtual performances, hosting Instagram lives,” Ms McGrath said.
“Maxi Shield was doing it to keep performing and remain connected with fans. I love everything about this: The colour, the vibrancy – it shows that positivity and tenacity.”
This might seem like your average haute couture catwalk snap at first, but McGrath believes it perfectly encapsulates the resilience and adaptability of the world in 2020.
“When you first look at it, you might think, ‘Whatever’, but you look at it again and you see the layers to this.
“It sums up 2020 in a sense.”