December 31st is upon us again… another year almost in the books. How crazy is that? 2019 was a bit of a dichotomy for me: I travelled, I taught workshops internationally, I was blessed with numerous opportunities to write / present / guest on podcasts, I had the privilege of photographing beautiful weddings and I worked with my friends at Fujifilm on multiple projects (the Create Forever project and the X-Pro3 launch). The latter part of 2019, however, will also be remembered as a time when I lost several former peers in the emergency services, when I lost my father, and, I think, when I lost my way for a little bit.
As I reflect back on the photographs I made in 2019, however, I am satisfied to see a consistency in my work. I have invested many years of blood and sweat into my photography and feel like I can reliably make the images that I see in my mind when I am out shooting. Are they the greatest images? No, of course not. But, I think there is a strength that comes from knowing that you can translate what you see in your mind to the creation of an image regardless of what is happening in your life at the time. This consistency allows you to push the boundaries more, to experiment more, and, ultimately, to grow more.
So, let’s look at some of my favourite images from 2019 and celebrate this awesome art form that we all love so much.
Silhouettes continue to be a big part of my street photography, and these two photos are examples of how I try to use them as compositional elements in my work:
Photos like these are visual experimentations, but I also try to include a storytelling element in many of my street photographs (as illustrated in the next set of photos). The images below, featuring the silhouettes of young lovers holding handing hands in Hawaii, of a father walking his child to school in Paris, and of ominous watchers looking down from above all provide opportunities for the viewer to find a story in the photograph. What that story is will differ for each viewer, of course. My goal is just to set the stage… people can interpret the image however they chose.
It seems that my eye for composition naturally shifts over time, changing what I am attracted to when composing images. This year I found myself working with lines and angles a lot, using these compositional elements to add another layer of complexity to my photographs:
Street images can be made everywhere of course, and I am always shooting. Sometimes I frame the image around beautiful light and shadows, while other times my eye is caught by a subject who has that magical ”X” factor that catches our interest as photographers. Here are a few favourites from 2019:
If anything “negative” really stood out to me this year (photographically speaking) it was the realization of how few street portraits I made.
I love interacting with strangers… meeting new people is one of my favourite things about travel and street photography. It was surprising then to find that I made less than 20 street portraits in 2019; all of which were made in the first half of the year. There is definitely a correlation between our emotions and the art that we create, so I wonder if my tumultuous fall had anything to do with not wanting to interact with new people?
There were, of course, also many opportunities to drop a tripod and make a cityscape or two. I always enjoy these shoots because they represent a slower, more cerebral approach to photography. I love the time between setting everything up and finally making your keeper images, when you can be lost in your thoughts as you wait for the light to reach that perfect place for your image. It is a very zen like experience for me.
A few final thoughts to end the year…
There is clearly a cycle to life. Some years are formative, some are maintenance, and some are transitional. This year was definitely the latter for me personally, but it was also a year that gave me so much to be grateful for.
This blog initially started, years ago, as a simple place for me to share my work. Over time it morphed into a site that featured countless Fujifilm gear reviews, and has morphed again into a place where I share my work and thoughts with you as openly and honestly as I can.
Along the way I have met new friends, built relationships with wonderful clients and students, supported people who were struggling, had the opportunity to teach all over the world and have had the joy of working on incredible projects with Fujifilm (one of the best companies in the world in my opinion). It is the absolute truth that my success is owed as much to all of you as it is to my own efforts.
I am excited to see where photography takes me in 2020. I can’t wait to share new work with all of you and to see so many of you face to face in workshops, at conferences, or during presentations. I hope you are all fired up for a new year and for the opportunities that it brings… after a challenging 2019 I know that I am.
Happy New Year everybody, I wish you all the best for 2020!