In any given year, editing photos for the pages (and webpages) of Texas Monthly is no simple task. And in 2020, “once-easy things like being able to send a photographer into a subject’s home, a restaurant’s kitchen, or on a drive to the Panhandle have of course been made complicated by how easily contractible and spreadable COVID-19 is,” says our photo editor Claire Hogan. But aside from a few context clues—Richard Linklater photographed in an empty movie theater, David Courtney (a.k.a. the Texanist) seen strolling along a desolate beach—you wouldn’t know that many of our images were taken during a pandemic. Photographers worked with us to safely shoot each subject, and our art department proceeded as usual to choose the images we would run. “When we’re making selects for a story, we are usually flipping pretty quickly through a large batch of the photographer’s images,” Hogan says.But every now and then, even in 2020, we stumble upon a shot so perfect that it’s game over, then and there.” Those are the photos you’ll see here, handpicked by Hogan and our design director, Emily Kimbro. “For so many, this was a year of loss and endings,” Hogan says. “It’s hard to find joy or comfort in the midst of that, but I’d like to think that these images—and the stories behind them—can bring a bit to those who need it.”