2020 Year in Review

2020 Year in Review

What worked

It is hard to image it’s possible to say anything went right in 2020 what with a GLOBAL PANDEMIC! Trips were canceled, events postponed…and then canceled. It would be easy to say not much worked this year, but as a young padawan who still has much to learn, I found the vast amount of free time a great opportunity to build my knowledge base. As we all entered the virtual word, I was happy to see the amount of educational opportunities out there. If you have never been on Creative Live, I highly recommend it. I took courses by Corey Rich and Michael Clark, two adventure photography heroes of mine. I also dug into some photographers who were willing to share (for free!) their thoughts and experiences on some of the more philosophical aspects of photography. I highly recommend giving a watch, listen, and read to David DucheminSean Tucker, and Dan Milnor.

At the beginning of the year I set out several goals, one of those was to push myself to shoot more and produce 100 “print worthy” photos. Images that I felt I would be happy seeing on a wall or in a magazine. Not only did I hit the mark in terms of producing the images, but others actually agreed that they were print worthy. One of my images was voted best wildlife image at an annual photo competition held at Studio Boise. Another appeared in print in the third issue of Outdoor Idaho Magazine – a first for me. While small victories to some and certainly not my main objective, it is nice to have my work recognized by others.

What didn’t work

This past year I tried to put some solid thought time into what type of images really excited me and that I want to be making more of. I came to the realization that the images that I really admire and that I get excited about are those that combined with word to create stories. While this realization might not sound like a bad thing, the problem is that I probably came to it about 20-30 years too late. As I talked about in my last post, this past year brought the demise of two of my favorite magazines in BIKE and Powder. A disappointment for sure, but not necessarily a surprise as print magazines have struggled to find the magic formula for sustainable existence in the digital age. Sure, there is still opportunities out there for storytelling in digital format, but I don’t think there is quite the appreciation for long-form stories, nor for printed imagery. Steve Casimiro creator of Adventure Journal provided a great summary of the current state of print on my favorite podcast Mountain & Prairie that is worth a listen. 

New Year – New Ideas

Even though print appears to be a dying art form, it is one that I am really drawn to. Over the past year I’ve learned a lot about visual storytelling and it is something I intend to spend more of my time and effort in. I think stories will help to focus my work and provide the motivation to keep pushing myself as a photographer. To that end I have come up with several personal projects that I will work on over the next year. One is a large-scale project that will take me at least a year if not several. Others will be shorter in duration and will likely appear here on Trailside. A story a month is my goal.

Another idea that I hope to pursue more in 2020 is what I’m terming adventure portraiture. It is an idea I’ve had for a while, but one I hadn’t put into practice until my local mountain bike organization held a fundraiser. The idea behind adventure portraiture is that many of us love outdoor sports and want to capture that passion in images, so why not have something nicer than your friend’s crappy super saturated i-phone picture? Why not have something you might want to hang on your wall or on your desk? That’s the idea of adventure portraiture, to capture folks’ passion for their sport in the environments they love. I’m throwing it out there, so we’ll see if anyone else thinks it’s a good idea too.

The last project idea I have for next year is actually a merger of two that I have struggled to put into motion. Two years ago, Dana gave me a halve dozen rolls of 36 exposure 35mm film, which I was really excited about as I had wanted to get back to the simplicity and methodical nature that film provides. I even went so far as to buy a 35mm manual focus lens for my old camera to really take it back to basics. Yet, I haven’t really shot much because I want those frames to be intentional and not 36 frames of randomness. Like writer’s block, I have struggled to decide what to shoot. The second idea that has never come to fruition is a 365 project, which is to take at least one photograph a day for a whole year. I have always liked the idea of a 365 project, but again have struggled to come up with themes or focus areas that aren’t me taking the same photograph over and over. So for 2021 I’ve decided the best thing to do is cast aside the self-imposed pressure embrace the uncertainty and see what happens. I give you the 2021 – 365 Film Project! The parameters will be simple – good light, creative composition, at least a frame a day. As most of my other goals and ideas for this year are to help focus my work, I’m hoping this project will spur creativity and new ways of seeing things. It will be like a photographic scribble book and I’m excited to see what the end result looks like.

So there you have it 2020 year in review. Like most of you I am not sad to see the year come to a close. While I don’t think we are out of the woods yet in terms of the pandemic, I am hopeful for what lies ahead in 2021. 

Happy New Year everybody

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