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Dec 30, 2019
I know there is some debate as to whether the decade ends this week or next year. That said, as far as I'm concerned, the "tens" digit is changing and that means it's a new decade. But I'm not really here to debate when the roaring 20's start. For me they start on Wednesday. So as I consider the start of a new year and new decade, I am taking a look back to see where I've come from, how I've grown, and then planning where I want to be in the future.
These images don't represent a "best of" list, but rather, these are images that have meaning for me personally, and have become favorites for me because of it. I've chosen one picture from each year since 2010 as a personal favorite, to share with you here.
In 2010 I went to Alaska to visit my brother, who was stationed at Fort Richardson in Anchorage. My (now ex-) wife and I headed up for 10 days, with five of those days spent camping in Denali. My ex-wife had purchased a flightseeing tour over the mountains for my birthday, so our second day in Denali, we took the park bus to Kantishna Air Field and climbed aboard a Cessna. It was an amazing experience. I have several favorite images of that flight, but this one stands out to me because I waited eight years to edit it (not intentionally!). That aquamarine glacial lake tucked away in a valley just grabs me, and reminds me of that awesome day with my brother and my ex-wife (who I'm still friends with).
2011 was a year of transition for me. I had started a job at Canon USA at the end of 2010 and thus did not do a lot of photographing on my own. This image was made leading a workshop for Canon interns in June of 2011. I was demonstrating point of view and how looking for different points of view can lead to more interesting images.
2012 saw me kick things up a notch again, in terms of photography. I visited three national parks, a number of state parks, and some other spots as the year went on. In May, I assisted on a Canon workshop in Yosemite. It was my second time in Yosemite and an amazing experience teaching and learning from the lead instructor, Jennifer Wu. This image was made on the last morning there, and the colorful blossoms along the banks of the Merced, as well as the imposing face of El Capitan, brought it all together for me.
I did a lot of photographing in 2013, but this image stands out to me, mainly for the dumb luck of catching the sunset through the arch- I wish I could say that was planned. I was traveling for work with Canon, in Las Vegas for a trade show, and a couple of coworkers and I had some free time so we headed to Valley of Fire State Park for an afternoon of photographing the rock formations there. The conditions cooperated perfectly. This image still stands out as one of my best.
The 2010s can best be described as a decade of personal transition for me. I started a new job at Canon in 2010, went through a divorce, and had problems getting myself settled. Photography was the one constant, and I found the more I was out with my camera, the happier I was. Seems simple enough but sometimes it takes time to realize the most obvious of things. This image was taken on a visit to Acadia National Park. I had my kids in tow, and this was our first evening there. Sunset and dusk were beautiful, it was cool, peaceful, and we were enjoying being together. I had just changed jobs, moving to a Silicon Valley startup that looked promising. In the end, this was the calm before the storm, but at the time, this felt like a new beginning. It's my favorite of 2014 simply because I shared the scene with my kids.
In January 2015 I went to Portland, Oregon, on business for Lytro, to train photo retailers on their light field imaging technology. In the end Lytro went bust for a lot of reasons and I got caught in the mess, but being tasked with training each of our dealers meant I traveled the country and had the opportunity to photograph while I was out. On this trip, I had an afternoon free and somehow found Trillium Lake. It was winter and the roads to the lakeshore were closed, so I hiked a couple of miles down to the lake, and then made my way around the lake until I found this spot. In another lucky stroke, it was warmer than usual and the frozen lake began to melt, leaving these reflective puddles along the surface. I love the symmetry of the reflection and swath of green from the pines breaking up the blue tones from the ice and sky.
In mid-2015, I was laid off as part of the Lytro mess (read about it here if you're curious), and for whatever reason, I had been unable to find another position. 2015 was the beginning of the hardest time in my life, but it also became a time when I began to put my photography first, both personally and professionally. I had been contacted by Benro to do some training videos for their filters- at the time they were branded as Vü Filters- so that held me over for a few months as I created the content and eventually filmed the videos. This image was taken in Lavallette, NJ, near my uncle's house, where I was at a family gathering. I saw the sunset coming, so I excused myself for a bit and headed down the street to this dock. It was the perfect opportunity to the filters for the video. My daughter asked to join me, which made me happy. It was a chilly March evening, but it I loved spending the time with my little girl as the sun set.
In July 2016, the downward spiral that started when I accepted the position with Lytro became complete. I still had not found a job, and my fiancée ended our relationship, which also rendered me more or less homeless. I hadn't wanted to move so far from my kids, but with no options that allowed me to stay in New York, I decided to move to Maine. I spent the end of 2016 and most of 2017 making new friends, exploring, photographing, and working in a camera store. Then in October 2017, I met someone special. A few weeks later I made this image of the spot where we had our first date, in the old Bowdoin Mill, which is now a restaurant. On December 30, 2018, we were married in the same restaurant. So yeah, this one is a favorite for me.
This image is a favorite simply because of how I came to make it. My fiancée Jess and I headed to Lubec for a little getaway and I got up for sunrise and headed to Quoddy Head State Park. I hadn't intended to shoot the lighthouse, as I have several images from there, but instead explored other parts of the park. On my way out I was passing the lighthouse, saw the clouds filling the sky and decided to snap a few just in case. I found these flowers and decided to see if I could make them work as a foreground. I took a few shots and this one was my best.
This past year was the year everything finally settled. I started the year with my new bride, making plans, and continuing to expand my photography. Part of those photography plans included traveling more, expanding my portfolio, so in the spring, Kristen Wilkinson and I made plans to head to Washington State to photograph the Palouse, and a side trip to Montana to a brief excursion into Glacier National Park. Our first afternoon at Glacier, I came across this scene. I was struck by the color combination of the yellow canoe, blue sky, and green hillside, as well as the reflections of the clouds. It was at this moment that I knew I needed more time in Glacier National Park than I allowed on this trip and would need to come back. This image placed second in the Landscape category in a contest hosted by Tamron, which netted me a new lens. 2019 was a difficult choice, as I've done more photographing this year than the first half of the decade combined. The plan for 2020 is more of the same.
Which image is your favorite? Or is there another image that you prefer? Comment below!
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