By Pu Ying Huang and Texas Tribune Photo Team, The Texas Tribune
“Texas 2023: Year in Photos” was first published by The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan media organization that informs Texans — and engages with them — about public policy, politics, government and statewide issues.
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From the Pecos River valley to the Piney Woods and from the High Plains to the Rio Grande, The Texas Tribune photo department received nearly 18,000 photos from staff and freelance photojournalists chronicling 2023 in Texas.
They documented momentous news, took portraits of the state’s power players and captured intimate glimpses of everyday Texans living out their lives during a dynamic year.
For about three months this summer, it seemed like no one could talk about anything but the heat. Record temperatures bored down brutally on the state. Laredo hit 115 degrees.
The attorney general was impeached in the Texas House and then acquitted in a historic state Senate trial. The legislature lingered around the Capitol for a marathon four special sessions but rejected Gov. Greg Abbott’s bid to create school vouchers.
The Texas Legislature banned diversity offices at public universities and blocked transgender kids’ access to medical treatments like puberty blockers and hormone therapy.
State troopers stretched razor wire along the Rio Grande River where thousands of South American migrants turned up in larger numbers than ever before.
The effects of last year’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling on abortion rights continued to ripple through Texas, casting uncertainty on reproductive health care for women and sparking lawsuits from those with medically complex pregnancies.
Photojournalists were there for every moment, giving Texans a view into how these events played out. Together, their photographs embody the state’s distinctive spirit and diversity.
Livingston, January 3
Myra Battise helps newly elected second chief Millie Thompson Williams with her official regalia after a press conference. Williams was the first female elected as a chief in the Alabama-Coushatta tribe’s history.
Austin, January 11
The Republican women state representatives gather for a photo at the front of the House floor during session at the Capitol.
Pecos County, January 30
Schuyler Wight, a fourth-generation West Texas rancher, surveys the puddles of crude oil that has been leaking from an abandoned well on his property.
Dallas, January 14
Daphne Rio, host of BuZz n’ BabeZz drag brunch, collects tips at the end of Saturday’s show. “We don’t ever advertise this brunch as kid-friendly because this brunch is just a brunch,” Rio said. “We need to show people that we’re here, that we exist. We love. We laugh. We experience life just the same as anybody else.
Houston, January 23
U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee consoles Ling Luo, Asian Americans Leadership Council founding chair, during a news conference in opposition to Texas Senate Bill 147 outside of city hall. The bill limited the sale of Texas farmland to citizens and entities associated with China and several other countries.
Austin, January 10
State Rep. Salman Bhojani, a Euless Democrat, and his son carefully move the Qu’ran that he had sworn in on while meeting with supporters at the Capitol. Bhojani was one of the first Muslim representatives in the Texas Legislature, along with Rep. Suleman Lalani.
Houston, January 22
Lion dancers ring in the Lunar New Year to celebrate the year of the rabbit and cat at the Teo Chew Temple.
Austin, February 1
A man walks underneath icy power lines after a winter storm in north Austin. Hundreds of thousands of businesses and households across Central and East Texas lost power.
Pineland, February 10
Destiny Williams cuddles her three month old daughter Irelynn at their home in Deep East Texas. After choosing to keep her pregnancy, Williams struggled with the realities of motherhood living in a region with few jobs and sparse social services.
Lubbock, February 14
A motorist approaches an intersection southeast as a dust storm spread to parts of West Texas. The region was blanketed in a thick layer of dust kicked up by powerful winds that reached as high as 69 miles per hour, according to the Lubbock office of the National Weather Service.
Uvalde, February 17
Sandra Torres and her partner, Mack Segovia, dedicated a room in their new house to Eliahna Torres, 10, who was killed at Robb Elementary. The couple was part of a group of Uvalde families that had been regularly visiting the Capitol to push for stricter gun laws, including to raise the age someone can legally purchase AR-15-style rifles to 21.
Houston, February 2
Sami-ullah Safi and his brother Abdul Wasi Safi ride an elevator at the Galleria Mall. Wasi, a former Afghan intelligence officer who helped the U.S. military combat the Taliban, was released after being detained at the U.S.-Mexico Border border trying to reunite with his brother in Texas.
Austin, February 6
Nick Morrow changes Shelby, 2, into pajamas by battery light during their sixth day without power. A winter storm wreaked havoc across the state with more than 400,000 Texas electricity customers losing power at one point.
Austin, February 28
Caitlyn Gonzales, 10, breaks down in tears while recounting her experience with the Robb Elementary shooting at a rally calling for gun control legislation at the state Capitol. Gonzales remembered her fear after a bullet pierced the wall nearest her and recounted the screams she heard from the classroom across the hall.
Austin, March 9
Hyunja Norman, executive director of Woori Juntos, leads her group through the state Capitol rotunda as they make their way to their next lawmaker meeting on Asian American Pacific Islander Advocacy Day. The group hoped to speak with lawmakers and seek support for bills that would improve language access for Korean and Spanish speakers in regards to health and social services.
Waco, March 25
Former President Donald Trump speaks at his first 2024 campaign rally at the Waco Regional Airport. He said at that he expected to be arrested in the coming days by New York authorities as part of an ongoing investigation. He would eventually turn himself in.
Uvalde, March 24
Jessica Treviño hugs Ida Velasquez, her cousin-in-law, after they helped Treviño’s daughter Illiana calm down from a panic attack on the ten month anniversary of the Robb Elementary school shooting. “You have to stay strong,” Treviño said to Velasquez, “If she sees you crying, she will get upset again.”
Austin, March 7
Amanda Zurawski speaks at a news conference announcing the filing of Zurawski v. Texas at the Capitol. Five plaintiffs had been denied life-saving medical care during pregnancy complications in Texas and demanded a declaratory judgement from the state on what constitutes a “medical emergency” exception to abortion bans.
Austin, March 27
People line the railing on all three levels of the outdoor rotunda of the state Capitol and wave signs during a “Fight for Our Lives” rally in opposition of anti-LGBTQ bills. Gov. Greg Abbott signed into law Senate Bill 14, which bars transgender kids form getting puberty blockers and hormone therapies.
College Station, March 27
John Sharp, a former state comptroller and ex-lawmaker, is the longest-serving chancellor in the Texas A&M University System since it was established in 1948. In his 12 years atop the system, which now has a $7.8 billion budget, he has overseen a massive expansion and successfully straddled the chasm between the demands of university faculty and students and conservative state leaders who have increasingly different ideas of how public universities should operate.
Buda, March 30
Janel Rodriguez looks at Noah’s framed football jersey at her home. Rodriguez started the Forever15 Project in honor of her son, Noah, who died from a fentanyl overdose, to raise awareness of opioid’s deadly effects among teens.
Bogata, April 1
Amnisty Freelen, flanked by longtime friend Robin Anderson, left, and her husband, Aarin Freelen, buried her 16-year-old son Joshua Keith Beasley Jr. at the McCrury Cemetery. Beasley was incarcerated at the age of 11 and suffered mental health crises while in the custody of the Texas Juvenile Justice Department for five years. “They didn’t try to fix the brokenness,” his mother says. “They just broke him more.”
Austin, April 6
Democrats gathered to speak with state Rep. Gary Van Deaver, R-New Boston, to try to convince him to remove a particular amendment from an anti-DEI bill on the House floor of the state Capitol. Ultimately, no compromise was reached.
Houston, April 21
Men attend Eid prayers at the Al-Noor Masjid.
Austin, April 19
Friends and families of the Uvalde shooting victims wait for the House Select Committee on Community Safety to reconvene at the state Capitol. Nearly 13 hours passed before the first witness testified on House Bill 2744, which would raise the minimum age to purchase semi-automatic guns from 18 to 21.
Round Rock, April 7
Topher Malone, a student advocate for transgender youth, shops for prom dresses with friends at a thrift shop. Malone waited more than 15 hours to testify at the Capitol against House Bill 1686, a bill prohibiting gender affirming care for minors. “I’ve never had to go out and testify about why I deserve to live to legislators,” she said.
Austin, May 8
Family members of the victims of the Uvalde shooting embrace each other after the House Safety Committee voted in favor of HB 2744, to raise the age requirement to purchase semiautomatic rifles from 18 to 21 at the state Capitol. The bill was ultimately withdrawn.
Austin, May 9
Bryan Slaton’s name is removed from the Texas House voting board shortly after the Royse City Republican was expelled in an unanimous vote. An investigation determined Slaton had engaged in inappropriate sexual conduct with an aide.
El Paso, May 11
A migrant family from Peru walks on the Mexico side of the Rio Grande after crossing the river late last week shortly after Title 42 ended.
Brownsville, May 7
Flora Zavala prays for the eight people dead at the site where a car ran into pedestrians waiting at a bus stop outside a shelter for migrants.
Deer Park, May 5
A fire erupts at a Shell USA refinery in Deer Park on May 5. State records show that the facility reported four malfunctions since the start of last year that resulted in unauthorized pollution releases.
Lyford, May 17
Members of the Lyford high-school baseball team practice of a new athletic field partially funded by wind turbine tax bonds. Industrial energy-producing wind turbines cover hundreds of acres of farmland in the city.
Allen, May 8
Mourners embrace at a memorial erected for the eight victims of the Allen Premium Outlets mall shooting. A security guard, an engineer, and a child as young as three were among the victims.
Uvalde, May 24
A sign of the number “21” lays outside the Memorial Park amphitheater on the one-year anniversary of the Robb Elementary school shooting. Members of the community attended a candlelight vigil in honor of the 21 victims.
Matador, June 22
Tyne Marshall sits on the ground next to Brett Homer and Cambrie Marshall after a tornado struck the small town on Texas’ High Plains. The women’s grandparents survived the tornado that killed at least four people and caused extensive property damage in the town of 800.
San Antonio, June 16
Mercedes Bristol, executive director of Texas Grandparents Raising Grandchildren, brushes the hair of her grandson, Paul Chavez, before his mariachi concert. Bristol is the primary caretaker of her five grandchildren, including Chavez, who is the youngest. “We’re called the invisible foster care, the hidden foster care, nobody knows about this group of people that are raising grandchildren,” Bristol said.
Dallas, June 16
Lauren Miller breastfeeds her two-month-old son Henry at her home. Miller, who was expecting twins, needed to perform a selective abortion in order to save her and one of the baby’s lives, but due Texas’ restrictive abortion laws, she traveled to Colorado for the procedure.
Georgetown, June 30
Kari stands with her son, a transgender 17-year-old, at a park. With the passing of Senate Bill 14, the new law will require her son to be weaned off hormone treatments after lawmakers banned gender-affirming care for kids. “I would love to ask somebody what is going to change between today and next March? Is my son going to magically change genders? Please let me know where that magic is,” Kari said.
Brownsville, July 17
From left, Martin Mata “Aaliah Royale Ja’mean,” Angel Hernández “Danika Karr,” Isidro Vásquez, and David Dávila “Kyra Karr,” pass their time and get ready for their performance at gay bar Bar-B.
Del Valle, July 7
Austin-Travis County EMS first responders take the temperature of Robert Shipp inside an ambulance. According to the first responders and Shipp, he was seen passing out while searching for car parts at Austin Wrench A Part and hadn’t eaten any food or drank any water all day. It was 102 degrees out.
Eagle Pass, July 13
A string of buoys is deployed to prevent migrants from swimming across the Rio Grande. Texas spent $850,000 on the barrier, a 1,000-foot-long string of buoys separated by saw blades that supports a submerged mesh net, as part of the effort to halt illegal immigration along the border.
Austin, July 14
Dianne Odegard, co-founder of the Austin Bat Refuge, feeds a yellow bat a mealworm during its rehabilitation process.
New Braunfels, July 27
Jodi Whites grabs oxygen tanks that she used for her daughter Amelia while her other daughters — Avery, 13, and Andi, 14 months — play in their home. Whites said that the portable oxygen tanks were essential to keeping Amelia’s oxygen levels normal before major surgeries, when her heart issues were at their worst. Without Medicaid coverage, the family had to return the medical equipment to the company who owned the gear.
Olton, July 10
Instructor Doug Anderson works with students in the back of an ambulance while Sabrina Rodriguez, playing the part of a patient, lays on the gurney during an EMT certification class at the Olton Volunteer Ambulance Association. Rural communities face a decline in volunteers for critical resources for reasons like the rising cost of living limiting people’s ability to work for free, ongoing workforce shortages or how few certification courses are offered in rural areas.
Galveston, July 17
Employees at Katie’s Seafood Market cut and prepare freshly caught fish as customers wait in line. With the chance of off shore wind farms coming to the Gulf Of Mexico, some commercial fishermen hope to see a boost in their businesses because fish will typically be attracted to the turbine foundations.
Baytown, August 19
Shane Hamilton, 16, was one of the first Texas teens killed with a gun this year. Yosha Hamilton, his mother, poses for a portrait with three of Shane’s brothers: Lionel Hamilton, 18; Markaven Washington, 15; and Sebashton Bryant, 10. Shane was shot outside of his family’s apartment in January. One hundred and seventy-three more youths in Texas died from gunshot wounds in the eight months that followed Shane’s death, according to state health data.
Cleveland, August 22
Robert Lawrence and his wife Jinelle outside their home in Cleveland, less than 10 minutes from the home they had to abandon in Sam Houston Lake Estates after Hurricane Harvey flooded it. Across the U.S., the federal government has turned to voluntary buyout programs to encourage “managed retreat” from areas that are repeatedly struck by natural disasters. “What I loved the most was that we could ride our horses anywhere we wanted,” Jinelle Lawrence said of living in the neighborhood. After Harvey, they had to give away their horses.
Eagle Pass, July 30
People pull concertina wire back so a Colombian woman can get through. Later, she waited near the river with her daughter to turn herself in to U.S. law enforcement.
Broken Bow, OK, August 18
A pastor reads from the bible as family and loved ones gather around the casket carrying the twins, Perseus and Helios Langley, at a burial. Miranda Michel, 26, learned at 16 weeks that the twins she was carrying would not survive, but Texas law does not allow abortions in cases of lethal fetal anomalies.
Lockhart, August 5
Michael Cargill, owner of Central Texas Gun Works, yells instructions to a group of people during a license-to-carry class at the Lone Star Gun Range. Since the permitless carry law passed in 2021, Texans have not needed a license to carry a gun. But gun instructors and some gun owners still see the benefits in taking the classes necessary to obtain a license.
Austin, September 5
Suspended Attorney General Ken Paxton confers with defense attorney Tony Buzbee during the first day of the impeachment trial in the Texas Senate chamber.
West Odessa, September 14
Ruben Pando, left, and his son Armando Pando, second from right, sit down for a meal at El Taco Loco Brirrieria as the sun begins to set.
Pflugerville, September 9
Laurie Sharp talks with her daughter, Logan Sharp, in the living room of their home. Logan’s feeding tube runs in the foreground, which she requires to eat. Texas Medicaid caregivers’ wages were already near the poverty level. But parents whose sole income came from taking care of their disabled children have now lost their ability to work overtime hours.
Austin, September 16
Tony Buzbee, the lead lawyer for Attorney General Ken Paxton, speaks to reporters after Paxton was acquitted on all 16 articles of impeachment at the Texas Capitol.
Heffington, September 1
Tanner Heffington, left, talks to Jimmy Drake, a retired cotton farmer who passed on his farm and equipment to long-time neighbor Heffington last year. This marked the first time in more than 70 years that a member of the Drake family didn’t harvest the land. “I was glad Tanner was there, but it still didn’t feel too good because my family’s been farming that land,” Drake said. “But, time marches on.”
Odessa, September 15
Odessa High School senior Kazandra Hinojos, 17, celebrates with her cheerleading squad after being named Homecoming Queen during the high school football game between OHS and Amarillo High School.
Junction, September 20
A customer exits the West Bear Creek General Store after making a purchase. A sign outdoors reads “Pray For Rain” as local residents endure exceptional drought conditions, according to the National Integrated Drought Information System.
San Antonio, October 14
Hundreds flock to Mission San José to witness the annular solar eclipse as the moon’s shadow swept across Central Texas.
Rowlett, October 26
Mothers Anna Sneed, Chantel Jones-Bigby and Sharby Hunt-Hart with their daughters at the Rowlett Public Library. The mothers, who are counting on state legislators to reach a deal on education savings accounts, say their public schools were not equipped to create a learning space that is safe for Black kids.
Junction, October 3
Republican state Rep. Andrew Murr stands in his law office in Junction. Murr lead the House Republican effort to impeach Attorney General Ken Paxton. The five-term House member, and his mustache, gained notoriety during the high-profile impeachment of Paxton. He warned tolerating corruption could hurt Republicans in the long term.
Austin, October 9
A protester, left, pauses to leave a boot at the steps of the Governor’s Mansion during a rally to “boot vouchers.” Hundreds gathered to protest two days before a special session was slated to begin.
Haskell County, October 20
Lambs graze in the shade of a solar panel at the Enel solar farm. Agrivoltaics, the blending of renewable energy and agriculture, is becoming increasingly common in Texas and nationwide.
Trinity Bay, November 1
Luis Cabrera and Manuel Perez unload a haul of oysters, rock and shells to cull through during an oyster harvesting trip in Trinity Bay, on the first of day of the oyster harvesting season. Despite fishermen’s wishes to delay the season in hopes that oyster reefs recover from years of environmental stress, the state pushed ahead with a Nov. 1 start.
West Odessa, November 6
Pigeons flock to Jesús Rodríguez as he tosses bird feed at his West Odessa home. “I come here for therapy,” Rodríguez said about tending to his animals during stressful moments. West Odessa is an unincorporated community in Ector County with no basic services, no city council and no municipality with zoning laws.
Sulphur Springs, November 4
From left: Chris Pogue, Rowdy Pogue, Skylar Gainer and Theda Pogue receive a blessing from the Rev. Eric Thlocco, of the Tokvbvche Methodist Church in Oklahoma, during a ceremony for the arrival of bison at the Pogues’ ranch. Indigenous ranchers in Texas are receiving help from nonprofits to rebuild bison herds in the state.
Austin, November 11
Thousands of pro-Palestinian demonstrators march through the streets downtown calling for a ceasefire in Gaza, where the death toll has surpassed 10,000 people.
McKinney, November 11
Kimberly Manzano, a new plaintiff joining nine women in a lawsuit against the state of Texas’s abortion ban, is held by her husband David Manzano during a portrait at a park. Manzano had a fatal fetal diagnosis and had to travel out of state to New Mexico for an abortion.
Fort Worth, December 2
Eric Nolasco holds Gabe while he reaches towards a holiday decoration during a light exhibit outside of Cook’s Children’s Medical Center. Gabe, who is 4, is recovering from a thymus transplant as treatment for his congenital athymia. His family spent years in quarantines and advocating to state insurance so they could keep him alive.
Vernon, December 3
Nikki Murray feeds her granddaughter, Auriella Murray, 1, while sitting with family members at her home. Murray, who became a mother at 15, didn’t finish college and is the kind of resident the local community college is trying to keep.
McKinney, December 9
August, 5, looks through the glass door of the birthday venue while cradling a balloon. His mother, Erica Olenski Johansen, has fought to keep her son covered by Medicaid while he has inoperable brain cancer.
Cloverleaf, November 17
Children laugh and talk during a holiday giveaway at Iglesia Cristiana Consolación.
This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune at https://www.texastribune.org/2023/12/29/texas-tribune-2023-photos/.
The Texas Tribune is a member-supported, nonpartisan newsroom informing and engaging Texans on state politics and policy. Learn more at texastribune.org.