“The only question in life is whether or not you are going to answer a
hearty ‘YES!’ to your adventure.”
Happy New Year, everyone!
As we put last year in the history books, I am feeling immense gratitude to all of you for your continued support and friendship in this journey. Thank you for all you do to help encourage and inspire my photography, writing, and teaching. As we turn into the new year and all the fresh opportunities it’ll no doubt bring, I look forward to more laughs, photographs, stories, learnings, donuts, cookies, “throwing Wendy’s,” handstands, ballet moves, sand angels, and more with you all! Keep saying “YES!”
To celebrate all that transpired in 2017, I’ve compiled 16 of my favorite photographs I created last year (in chronological order. Prints available! Just click on photo to visit my website to order or shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org):
Here’s Looking at You
From January to June 2017, I took on the interim Executive Director position with Outdoor Writers Association of America (OWAA), which limited my outdoor and photography time for the first half of the year (for more on that: “Setting Sail Again“). One morning in March, though, my friend, fellow OWAAer, and fabulous wildlife photographer, Tim Christie, invited me to photograph the burrowing owls on the west side of Phoenix with him. Now, I normally don’t shoot wildlife unless it runs into my landscape scene…in fact, I had never photographed an owl before. From the moment saw these astounding creatures through Tim’s 600mm fixed lens (a.k.a. the Hubble telescope), though, I was hooked. That trip inspired me to discover a couple locations where burrowing owls lived just 15 minutes from my house–that I’ve lived in for 16 years!!
When I saw these two sego lilies intertwined near the Barnhardt Trail in April, a quote by Zen Shin came to mind: “A flower does not think of competing to the flower next to it. It just blooms.”
So Many Flowers, So Little Time
I had no intentions of photographing while walking to the City of Rocks State Park Visitor’s Center to pay my fee for my campsite. But the camera always comes with me anyhow! You never know when a bunch of claret cup cactus blooming along the side of the parking lot will grab your attention and yell, “Make my picture please!”
In 2017, I introduced my new brand, Sheography™, which represents my women’s-only photography workshop offerings. And boy, did we kick things off with a bang! On the inaugural trip in May 2017, sixteen wild women (and two awesome male guides) launched on a fabulous adventure down the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon. This was from day 4 in our 119.8 Mile Right camp, which we affectionately renamed “Tres Burrito Camp.”
The Yin to My Yang
Read about how and why I made this image in my blog post, “Patience Young Jedi”
Little Bubbles on the Prairie
In July, I attended the Fishtrap Outpost, a five-day writing workshop at the Nature Conservancy’s Zumwalt Prairie in Oregon led by one of my absolute favorite authors, Craig Childs. What an incredible experience it was! While on our first hike, I saw BUBBLES!!! In the algae along Camp Creek. I know, I know, I was supposed to be focused on my writing, and I did! After I lost all two marbles in my brain when I saw these and made a photograph of them…Can you imagine a year going by without me photographing bubbles? Yeah, me either.
Bakunawa, the Moon-Eating Dragon
When photographing this scene while at Fishtrap Outpost on the Zumwalt Prairie in Oregon, I thought of Bakunawa, the moon-eating dragon…it was 5:00 a.m., and I had not been caffeinated properly yet…
From my happy place, Acadia National Park in Maine, during a two-week visit I made to the Schoodic Peninsula with my parents. After spending almost 400 days in the park since my first of three Artist-in-Residencies in November 2009, Acadia still remains my “heaven on Earth.”
I’ve spent the last eight autumn seasons in Acadia National Park, and last year’s trip was completely EPIC. Some of the best color and light I’ve ever seen in the park! Plus I had awesome workshop participants and friends from near and far to enjoy it all with. I shared this incredible sunrise along the coast with friends and fellow photographers, John Putnam and Bob Thayer. Acadia never disappoints! (Shameless self-promotional plug: join me on my Winter in Acadia and Autumn in Acadia workshops in 2018! Whoo!)
The Point of It All (a haiku)
Hiding in shadow
Rebirth, persistence, beauty—
The point of it all.
Songs of Serenity
At the start of my second “Autumn in Acadia” workshop, Mother Nature treated our group to an unforgettable sunrise at Little Long Pond on the Maine Land and Garden Preserve near Acadia National Park in Maine. First, we had cotton candy pinks in the sky pre-dawn. Then overcast skies and no wind (perfect for reflections!). Then the fog rolled in. Then the sun started spotlighting Penobscot Mountain through the fog. (I don’t photograph a lot on my workshops, but this was even too much for me to sit and watch without photographing!) Then the skies cleared. All in a span of about two hours. Have I mention how epic this autumn trip was? As epic as bubbles.
Lighting Up My World
From the magic hour (an hour after sunrise on a clear day) at the Tarn in Acadia National Park in Maine.
In the Flow
Read more about how and why I made this image during my first visit to the Great Smoky Mountains in Tennessee in November on my blog post, “In the Flow.”
Make a Splash
In 2017, I made a habit of saying “yes” more to new adventures and experiences, even if I didn’t know what might materialize when I did so. In this case, I said “yes” to visiting a friend of mine (another OWAAer), Tim Mead, in North Carolina for a few days after speaking at the Great Smoky Mountains Photography Summit. Not only did I get to see a beautiful part of the country I hadn’t seen before (at the height of fall colors), but I also found out Tim and I had a lot more in common than I originally knew. As we hiked around South Mountains State Park, fished in Mountain Island Lake, and drank beers on the back porch of his home, he offered loads of advice and insight into questions I had been struggling with in my life–an unexpected gift. I think I’ll keep saying “yes“…
The Winds of Change Stirring
Full-time freelance photographers don’t get an allocated set of vacation days like people who work in Corporate America do. Some may think we’re perpetually on vacation (we aren’t…), but photographers know the eyes and brain don’t ever turn off, especially in beautiful places where many non-photographers would take their vacations. Late last year, I decided I needed some downtime, a true vacation from the crazy year that was 2017. In what was the first dedicated vacation for me in years, I booked a long weekend in one of my favorite places, Cannon Beach, Oregon, to refresh and regroup for the new year. My intent was to spend four days sitting on my hotel’s beachfront porch, drinking coffee, napping, and staring at the waves. Well, there must have been something in the ocean breeze, because I rose well before sunrise on the first morning (which, mind you, was almost 8:00 a.m.!), grabbed my camera (and coffee mug), and hit the beach. Although I hadn’t planned it, the next four days were some of my most productive and enjoyable creative times of the year. The moral of the story? Take more vacation days in 2018. That, and, you can sleep when you’re dead...
Last year was full of beautiful surprises. Through it all, I learned how to listen to my own voice and to feel the beating of my own heart. This beach scene from Oregon reminded me of a pulse, of the beauty of life and its impermanence, and of the gift we have each and every day to create meaning through the triumphs and the struggles so long as our heart still beats.
And that’s a wrap for 2017!
If you’d like to see my favorite photos from previous years, please visit:
The above posts were featured in Jim Goldstein’s annual “Best Photos of the Year” blog project, which not only provides endless inspiration by so many talented photographers, but also offers the chance to gain insight into how your own work and style has evolved over the years. Check out the 130+ photographers who contributed this year at www.jmg-galleries.com/blog/2018/01/10/photos-2017-jmggalleries-blog-readers.
As we look to 2018, make every new day an adventure. Make every new day meaningful. And while you’re at it, make every new day grand! Hope it’s your best year yet! And hope our paths cross during this wild adventure.