People think this photo of a burning sign sums up 2020

People think this photo of a burning sign sums up 2020
Noah Berger/AP

Photographs are often far more effective than a big block of words.

And sometimes an image can just sum up exactly how you feel, without any further explanation needed.

Like one snapped by Noah Berger of the Californian wildfires this week.

It’s been picked up by the internet and heralded as the defining picture of 2020.

It’s easy to see why; the snap shows a sign at the entrance to a ‘Senior Center’ entreating people to “Wear a mask, wash your hands, social distance, stay safe” adding a friendly “Come join us!”. But it’s surrounded by a raging fire, that looks set to engulf the sign and its message imminently.

As far as symbolism goes, it’s not exactly subtle

And it quickly was picked up by people online.

Some who explained the snap.

Others saw it as a meme come to life.

Some even thought it was too on-the-nose to be real.

But it was real all right; it was taken by Berger, an Associated Press photographer, in Napa County on Tuesday, as fires raged.

California’s wildfires have hit even earlier this year than previous seasons, amid record temperatures recorded thanks to climate change.

But Berger’s image really seemed to bring together several strands that have marked this year out as particularly difficult.

Great work; terrible portent.

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