When I began the process of paring down the shots I’d taken in the past year to pick my personal favorites, my crop of first selects included just eleven photos. The fact that I only had to omit one image from a year’s worth of photos to generate this list speaks volumes about my relationship to photography in 2021.
When I looked back through my Lightroom catalog to start my sort, I noticed that one month (March) had not a single photo associated with it. Further investigation revealed that prior to March 2021 there wasn’t a month where I failed to take a single picture since 2003, when I first started keeping track of such things. There are a bunch of specific reasons I could enumerate as to why my creative output has dropped so dramatically, but they’re probably most succinctly summarized under the category, “Life.”
Nevertheless there were at least ten non-family images I’m proud to call my favorites from the past year for either technical or sentimental reasons. I’ve posted them below. Here’s to hoping that 2022 can foster the conditions that not only bring out our best photos, but the best of us as well.
Sometimes, having a little technical know-how combined with not being afraid to look like an idiot can get you where you want to go creatively. I found myself on top of the Mount Washington overlook in Pittsburgh during blue hour wanting a nice stitched panorama but my tripod was conveniently 241 miles away in my office. No problem, just brace your camera awkwardly against a nearby fence and light pole, snap away as other visitors not-so-patiently wait their turn to take selfies, and hope for the best in post.
I’m not sure what it says about me as a photographer (or as a person really) that I spent about five minutes circling this gigantic pile of tires in a bicycle museum trying to find the shot I wanted. God bless my wife.
I’ve taken photos of this particular rack of art supplies in the past, (It embarrasses me to say, I’m not entirely sure what they are.) but this top-down angle combined with the colorful sticks and shallow depth-of-field really strikes my fancy.
Inspired by long exposure shots I’ve seen of Big Ben framed in the trailing lights of London’s famed double decker buses, I tried to capture Pitt’s Cathedral of Learning and her victory lights in a similar fashion.
Always looking for any kind of photographic inspiration in the dregs of January, I turned to a YouTube tutorial on how to shoot and edit this masochistic self portrait. Still caught in the grips of what at the time was the peak of Covid cases in our country, (Hello Omicron!) and still trying to wrap my head what had recently happened in our nation’s capital, this shot might have captured the collective mood of my household and possibly our country.
Bound by an “Approved Photographer” agreement with my son’s school, I’m not technically allowed to publicly post a lot of the sports photos I take throughout the year beyond privately sharing them with other parents. However, for Jacob’s non-school AAU basketball team I have a little more flexibility. This shot of his teammate Landon rising to the basket is one of my favorites because it’s one of the few landscape shots I’ve successfully captured during a basketball game.
This image of a band parent raising their Pitt ball cap at Heinz field while his son performed their pre-game show prior to the first football game of the season perfectly summed up my personal feelings of my son’s return to doing something he loves. While Noah will never get back his senior year of band competition, as a parent, this moment felt like a small victory in a year full of losses.
After 15 years of visits, capturing something new at sunrise in Stone Harbor gets a little harder every summer. This vacation, I was lucky enough to stumble upon this still pool of water reflecting the morning’s clouds as I was packing up to head back to bed.
Still in the midst of a quasi-lockdown in February, I turned to another at home photography project to scratch a mid-winter’s creativity itch. It may not be high art, but at least I go to do photography and arts and crafts.
My son’s colorful footwear choice of the day was easy to capture from a descending stairwell at our vacation rental.