The end of the year always brings a welcome activity of looking back over the year of photography and reflecting on what went well and what didn’t go so well, what areas I showed growth and what areas I didn’t do as well as I wanted to. And I typically gain some insight as to what I want to work on in the coming year.
I’m traveling for the holidays, back to see family, and this afforded me some time to review my 2019 images to try and pick my favorites. Granted I haven’t even finished processing all of my images from the year, but I have done enough to pull out what I think are my favorites, or those that resonated strongest with me.
What is always interesting for me in doing this kind of exercise is that my “favorites” are always subjective (as they should be) AND depend on my mood for what I pick. If I’m feeling bold and outgoing, I’ll typically pick images that reflect that. Or, if I’m a bit more mellow and quiet, I’ll pick images that reflect that mood. Art is subjective and how we interpret and internalize it definitely depends on the mood we are in when we view it. Sometimes I feel it’s a futile attempt to pick a “favorite” because my favorites change based upon my mood or current situations.
So what did I do to pick favorites this year? I was fortunate enough to travel to some amazing locations across the US to shoot images and I had a wide range of images to choose from. There are some basic criteria that each image needs to fulfill; it has to be technically sound, properly exposed, in focus, etc….Beyond that, it came down to those images that elicit a reaction in me, something that brings forth an emotion or reaction.
I started with 102 images and attempted to cull them down to 10-20 images. I soon found out that that’s an incredibly hard thing to do! When I had gotten down to the finalists, I felt I should cut more, but then I couldn’t bring myself to do it. So, my list of favorites is not a specific number, it’s just the images that made the final cut.
The above shot is from a 1950’s Packard and it’s the chrome strip on the hood. Something about the water drops, AND, the Fujifilm Acros film simulation made this a favorite of mine. Plus, it’s not something I typically shoot, so it stood out for me this year.
Of course, who can resist cute animals! This little cub was scratching its back against Mom and in the process sticking out its tongue. I just couldn’t resist putting this in as one of my favorites.
Sunrise along Bandon Beach on the Oregon Coast. The color pop of the one orange starfish really makes this image as one of my favorites. Plus, the stillness of the scene.
The claws and details in the salmon roe were the clinchers for this shot. Part of the balance of life and death in Alaska, this shot was an instant fav for me.
Winter in Grand Teton National Park is always a magical experience. Having a strong foreground plus the fog in the background made this image a favorite for me.
Lighthouse in Oregon. The curve of the red roof was an instant appeal, then add the color blocking of red, blue, white and the simplicity of the image became a fast favorite.
Capturing a moose surrounded by Fall foliage is a bit of a rarity for me and the way this composition came out made it a favorite. After stalking the moose through the trees, it emerged briefly and allowed a few frames to be fired off.
The texture and color in this shot made it a favorite of mine. Net floats hanging off of a fishing boat in a small harbor on the Oregon coast.
The frost on the trees and the fog in the background always brings some drama to a shot. Plus the dark background juxtaposed against the light foreground created some nice balance in this image.
Fishing hooks arranged on a bucket. The blue colors reflecting off the metal combined with the yellows and oranges in the image makes for a pleasing color palette. Plus, a very unique subject matter made this an instant favorite of mine.
One of the few round barns left in the Palouse, on this day we enjoyed a dramatic sky which made this a picture perfect moment for me.
Capturing interaction between animals is always a wonderful thing and these two siblings were playing and fighting over this stump. The eyes and open mouth made this a favorite for me.
This is one of my top 3 favorite images of the year. The drama and ruggedness of the peaks plus the tumult in the clouds…..this just screamed at me when I saw it on my LCD screen and it processed up nicely to realize my hopes for this shot.
I enjoy abstract shots and this one really stood out for me this year. It’s the fender and hood of an old truck in Eastern Washington. Shot with the Fujifilm GFX50s, the details and contrast in this image is amazing. Faded paint, lichen, flakes….it’s got a lot of visual interest going on!
This is one that’s on the fence (pun intended) for me for being a favorite. It was a fav for most of the year but when I revisited it at the end of the year, I still like it but it didn’t have the pull it did earlier on. I decided to include it here as a contender. Please feel free to comment on it
Schwabacher Landing, Grand Teton National Park. The conditions this morning were idyllic and the shot turned in to an instant fav for the year. (You don’t see the 40 other photogs standing around)
I love intimate nature shots like these. They are sometimes hard to find and when you can nail the shot, it can feel so good. The detail and richness in this image, plus the slight curve in the trunk make this one of my favs for the year.
Another abstract made the list this year. This is a boat and its reflection in the water. The strong color blocking and rich tones make this image a strong one (imo). I left a bit of the water ripple in the lower right to help the viewer have a bit more visually to hang on to.
The wheat fields of Eastern Washington are always mesmerizing. Light and shadows make or break compositions in this area and during sunset one night we had soft light that was very directional to highlight the different layers and shapes of the fields. It’s a classic Palouse shot.
Walking up to this stand of trees, I knew exactly what I wanted to shoot and how I wanted the end image to come out as. Again, looking at smaller scenes in nature and capturing just a slice of the overall image. Lots of detail, some mystery as it darkens deeper in the woods, great textures….all add up to one of my favorites.
This image was shot just a month ago and surprisingly to me, I think it might be my overall favorite image of the year. Normally I let my images “ferment” for a while before processing or declaring one as a fav. But in this image there was an instant reaction for me strong enough to say that this could be my overall favorite.
The simplicity of the image is a strong point for me, plus the subtle textures throughout create interest all throughout the image. Then, the animal tracks tracing the water channel add enough visual interest and “grounding” for the viewer to bring an added dimension that is relatable.
Well there ya have it. No big splashes of colorful sunsets or over-the-top drama….lots of subtlety and nuance this year. I’d love to hear from you what you think your favorites are out of the ones I’ve posted.
Happy Shooting in 2020!!!!!
About Me: I am a full time professional photographer, workshop leader and creative educator based in Portland Oregon. I run both group and 1×1 photo workshops in the US and abroad as well as provide instruction in person or via computer.