2019 was an interesting year for my photography. I just didn't pick up my camera much. For most of the last decade, whenever I'd travel anywhere, I'd always bring my big DSLR with me, and probably a tripod too. I was pretty religious about getting up early and making some shots whenever I was in a new city (or in a familiar but vibrant city such as New York). I stopped doing that so much this year. Work is busy and I've been traveling a lot. I find that the DSLR is just too damn heavy to carry on a flight and, for whatever reason, I don't have the same desire to spend time staking out great photo locations like I once did. It was similar on the portrait front. I dusted off my home studio in January to take some photos for friends and then... nothing. This is a bit of a shame because I love portraiture, but it's a major time investment. It also requires a lot of space, which I just don't have. So, it's not that I don't still love photography, it's just that I don't have the time to devote to it that I once did. Or maybe the interest, I don't know. Maybe it will change in 2020, or not.
That said, I did take some trips this year which gave me amazing opportunities to photograph the wonder that is America. On those trips, photography came secondary to family, but I still made some shots that I'm proud of. Anyway, in no particular order, here's my favorite images of 2019...
Steam Pipe, NYC
I didn't take my DSLR to NYC at all this year, but I did take my X100T and I made this photo on the way to the office one morning. I'd long wanted to capture a photo with one of these steam pipes, as they're so quintessentially NYC, but had never gotten round to it. The morning sun was shining at just the right angle to light the plume, and the delivery worker added some nice scale to the scene.
I didn't take many portraits this year, in fact, I only broke out my studio equipment twice (and both times were for this family). I love the shot I made of these three great kids. Their parents seem to like it too, because they got a large print made to hang on their wall.
Desert Watchtower, Grand Canyon.
This was a great location and I took quite a few photos of the Grand Canyon that I'm proud of here. We visited in the afternoon, and the light wasn't perfect for photographs, but I made do. I think the composition is pretty strong here, with the tower, the tree and the canyon on the left (the canyon is much more visible in the full res version).
Spider Rock, Canyon De Chelly
Honesty, by the time we arrived at Canyon De Chelly, we were somewhat canyoned out having already visited the Grand Canyon, Antelope Canyon, and Monument Valley. We didn't tour the valley floor, but instead opted just do to the rim drive. It worked out well because we arrived at the last stop - the Spider Rock look out, at the perfect time for me to get this photo. Only 10 minutes later, the shadow was already half way up the spire. To me, there's something iconically "American West" about this photo, which is as much as I could hope for.
Wigwam Motel, Holbrook, AZ
If Spider Rock is iconic of the American west landscape, the this motel is iconic of the areas recent human heritage. It was such a joy to photograph this spot, where people can still stay in the Wigwams. Presumably, however, patrons need to park their cars somewhere else, because the lot in front is full of classic American Automobiles.
I like the silly joy that this shot captures.
Moon over Monument Valley
A single exposure of the most recognizable landscape in the America, perhaps the world. This was easily one of my favorite places I have ever visited. Most of my photos of Monument Valley didn't come close to doing it justice, and tbh I really messed up on a lot of my exposures for some reason, but I came close enough to redeeming myself with this shot.
Lower Antelope Canyon, AZ
I was excited to visit Antelope Canyon since I first heard of it about 10 years ago. It's a super fun experience, but probably not as beautiful in person as it looks in photos. That said, the combination of composition and textures makes for stunning photos, and I got a lot of shots here that I'm proud of (even without a tripod). This was my favorite.
Milky Way over Kauai
Hawaii must be one of the best places on the planet to photograph the Milky Way. It's an island, sparcely populated (especially Kauai) and is close to the equator (so the Milky Way is always above the horizon). I went out late a couple of nights to get some shots. It was challenging, because there was a constant cloud cover coming in off of the ocean. I had to compose the shot I wanted, and then... wait... until a suitable opening in the clouds came along. It was worth it.
Napali Coast, Kauai
Another iconic location I've long wanted to shoot. I think the preferred photographic approach here is generally a helicopter tour, and they look awesome, but I'm not a fan of the safety record of Hawaiian helicopter tours and the chances of getting a good seat on a helitour felt too random. Instead, we took what turned out to be an amazing bout tour up the coast and I made some photos which I think capture the ancient majesty of the landscape pretty well.