We have all heard the saying that “a picture is worth 1000 words.” At its core, this points to the enormous amount of detail contained in every photograph, so much so that you would need pages to fully explain what is perceived almost instantly. However, to me, this phrase also means that each picture has a great story leading up to the moment of its taking. With this series, I hope to bring you some of those stories.
This intro, I originally wrote for a series of blogs I have been writing about photography at Walt Disney World. As I completed my 2016 project to take, and share, a picture every day, I started thinking about where to go from here, and they idea of discussing and sharing the stories behind images has stuck with me. In that vein, every month for this year I will share some of what I have been photographing, and about 1000 words about the experience.
For now, however, I wanted to take a look back at my “Year of Pictures” and share some of what I saw, learned, thought about, and more.
Over the course of the year I noticed a few changes in my mindset. Specifically, I would be thinking of even the most mundane situations as opportunities to get a creative picture, and really started to look at light itself as a subject in these pictures.
In reviewing all of the pictures I took, and making the word cloud above, it was definitely obvious that I had a few “go-to” subjects throughout the year. The first, and possibly my most longstanding even before this year, was flowers.
With all of these, and with many of the pictures I took this year, the idea was to look at everyday objects and occurrences in a different way or from a different perspective. I spent a lot of time getting low, getting very close, or changing the depth of field, angle or focus. As I returned to some of my favorite subjects over the course of the year, this became especially important.
Taking pictures of the moon poses a lot of challenges. It is far away, you are susceptible to extraneous light, and extended shutter shots can be easily blurred because of its motion. Still, we had several great opportunities to capture its beauty over the course of the year, from clear phases, cloudy nights, a lunar eclipse, and a supermoon. I went through this goal, in some sense, to challenge myself with new ideas and techniques, and this was a great example.
Where I work has a great view of the UT Tower, and I end up working a lot of nights for various reasons. As such, I see the tower at sunset a lot, and it is quite a beautiful sight for much of the year. However, I didn’t want to let myself fall into a pattern or trap of just taking the same picture over and over, so I tired lots of different methods to mix it up. From adjusting contrast to changing focus to playing with the exposure compensation, I tried to end the year with a bunch of different “looks.” Even in these, a picture can tell a story – the black and white tower photo below is from August 1st, when they stopped the clock at the time the tower shooting began 50 years ago on that day.
Alright, I’ve gotten about 600 words into this retrospective and haven’t talked about the cats yet, so here we go. At the beginning of the year, Alistair was dominating the year of pictures, both because he hangs around me a lot and also because he is a beautiful cat who gravitates toward the camera.
Our third cat, Sadie, doesn’t come out as much in her old age, but she is still adorable when she does.
While this is incredibly hard for a project like this, I think this might be the favorite picture I took all year. From the vibrant color contrast, layers, depth, and more it really just combines a lot of the things I like about nature and photography into one.
But to end, two final pictures – one from the beginning of the year and one from the end, both from the same area of New York during the same organization’s conference.
At the beginning of the year, I wanted to catch a shot of central park after the snow (I actually did this again at the end of the year, but in a slightly different way). At the end of the year, on my final day, I ventured out into the falling snow and used a lot of the skills and techniques I had worked on over the course of the year to take what appears to be a relatively simple picture, but in that simplicity capture the essence of the moment in my eyes.
As I move forward from this project, I hope to continue to learn, grow, share, and do so in a creative and compelling way. But at the same time, I want to use those to show the love that I see in the world, even if it takes a little bit of extra work.