Happy holidays, happy new year to everyone. This post is gonna be shorter than usual, just because I'm honestly too tired to wax poetic and ramble on as I typically do. (Post-script: ...yeah, not really. Whatever. I tried.)
The year's been busy for me. I've worked a bit, learned a lot, had my ups and downs as much as anyone else, I suppose. I haven't shot as much for myself this year though, partly just from a complete lack of inspiration and motivation. I also didn't do as much travelling this year as I typically have in the past. Usually I take a week or two off to a city with no intentions other than shooting, and I really didn't have that happen this year.
Regardless, I did have a number of successes. I had two images shown in a gallery as part of Exposure Fest at the start of the year, which was a first for me. I was part of the Sled Island photo crew, which might have been the most physically and mentally exhausting six days of my life, but taught me so much. I was part of the team that got Beers and Cameras up and going, and it turned out to be an amazing success beyond what I dared hope. (Full blog post on that here.) I learned a lot, which is really always my main goal, and a lot of what I learned is hopefully going to turn into big projects and things to come.
And I guess I got a couple pictures I'm happy with too. So, without further ado and in no particular order, here's a few of my favourite shots from this year.
Summer vacation. This year, I didn't really travel anywhere specific. My parents went off on a trip to Europe, which meant that dad let me steal his jeep for a week and just drive. Didn't plan much, just drove around the parts of southern Alberta and British Columbia that weren't completely engulfed by the forest fires. I didn't shoot as much as I wanted to, but this was a night where I stopped to camp at Riondel, a tiny little village on the eastern shore of Kootenay Lake, pictured here. If nothing else, I love shooting water. There's something about it - how it reflects and abstracts things, how long exposures can make it the moodiest subject. The summer thunderstorm and the crazy light it made was the cherry on top.
I got to go to Toronto to shoot the Royal Agricultural Fair this year. I've never been to Toronto before, so when I had time in the evenings, I'd go out and wander as much as time and energy allowed. This was one of my favourite shots. I've become somewhat intrigued with window reflections lately. I see them as a double exposure in a single moment. I don't know if there's anything particularly special about this photograph, other than I like how the colours and the scenes blend.
I started shooting film way more seriously than I have before this year, both medium format on my Rolleiflex TLR (last year's birthday present to myself) and 35mm on my Leica M4-2 (this year's.... random present to myself). This frame was off one of the first rolls of colour I put through my Rollei - shot on Kodak Ektar 100, which is arguably my favourite colour film now. I just love the tones.
Being a part of the Sled Island photo crew was an awesome experience. It was completely exhausting, but it taught me a lot and was an incredible experience nonetheless. This was one of my favourite sets - the last one of the night, downstairs at the Palomino at about one in the morning. It had all that energy and grittiness that you can expect out of a basement punk show, and this was one of my favourite images that captured that.
So not only did I shoot way more film this year, I learned how to develop it. (Black and white, at least.) It was kinda terrifying at first, but there's something about the feeling you get when you pull the reel out of the developing tank and see the images you shot. It's a moment frozen in time that is fully captured and realized in your hands, in a way that is so much more satisfying than shooting digital and downloading a memory card. (I expect that feeling will be even more pronounced when I get into doing optical prints in 2018.) This image was off the first roll I stand-developed, and it's crunchy and high-contrast and gritty and so cool and I honestly did not expect this to work when I developed it. And I think that's why I like it so much. Also, exploring back alleyways is one of my favourite things to do when I'm shooting. You never know what you'll find.
This is one of those images that maybe isn't the best out there, but I'm too stoked that I got to this point not to share it. Ever since I started getting into concert photography, that birds-eye-view shot has always been something of a milestone. Usually, you've got to either know the crew well enough to let them rig a camera to a trellis above, or you've got to have a venue with a catwalk and a band that'll trust you to not screw everything up by sneaking around upstairs to get the shot. For me, it was the latter.
(P.S. Their album, Rise & Shine, is actually really awesome and frequently on my editing playlist, so you should check it out here maybe.)
Shot this on my Rollei while I was out around Canmore for a day. It's one of the first rolls I'd developed myself, and not perfect, but I'm still really happy with how it turned out. There's something simplistic in the composition and medium that I really like. It really feels like a photo of another time, a simpler time. I have a similar frame that I shot on my digital, but it really doesn't have the same effect. It was one of the first photos I took this year that really helped me recognize the impact that medium (i.e. film vs. digital files) can have on an image.
Shot the same day (a couple kilometers down the road) from the one above. I'd gone out to Canmore with my parents for the opening of the gallery I had a couple prints shown in, and didn't really expect to be shooting much. I only had my Rollei and my DSLR with my 35mm lens on it. We came across some elk close by on the road to Minnewanka, who had evidently been sitting there for awhile, as the snow collected atop their fur. Of course, I spend about ten minutes cursing myself for not bringing a longer lens, but eventually a couple of the more curious guys came up closer to the road, munching on branches and such that had yet to be engulfed by the snowbanks. This was shot from the truck, on 35mm, cropped only to adjust the aspect ratio. I remember stopping in the midst of firing about fifty frames and peeking out from behind the camera, and just being hit with this wave of awe and respect and a twinge of fear. Here, ten feet away from me, is a wild animal who could undoubtedly cause me considerable damage. And he's just munching away on his afternoon snack.
Not exactly sure why I included this one in the mix, other than I really like this image. I started taking a handful of self portraits over the course of the year. I think this is my favourite - or at the very least, the most honest. No makeup, simple window light, summer freckles and an honest expression. I really want to start photographing people more, and it was an area of my photography that sorely lacked any real progress this year, but maybe if I can learn to capture what I want to see from myself, it's a step towards being able to capture that in other people.
So there we go. As always, a massive thank you to anyone and everyone who has supported me this year, whether you were a client, a mentor, a motivator, an inspiration, or a friend. I say this every year and it's definitely not often enough. But thank you. Without you, there is no way that I would be able to continue this pursuit, and I am exceedingly grateful for every person who has played even the smallest role in my life.
Here's to the year ahead!