According to my Lightroom 4 “2012 catalog” I captured close to 40,000 images in 2012. That’s a whole lot of pictures! I had a great year and I captured some of my all time favorite shots in 2012. WIth 2013 right around the corner I wanted to look back and pick 12 shots from 2012 that represented my work for the year. I’ve always tried to tell stories with my photography and this year was no exception. Sometimes the story was there in the picture and sometimes the adventure of capturing the shot became the story. For this blog entry I’ll share my twelve favorite shots from 2012 and the stories behind each of them.
This just might be my favorite shot I’ve ever taken. This shot won me photo contests and even made the editors choice for the NAPP member website (and that could be one of my proudest moments). My dog, Peaches, loves to go for car rides and I love to just watch her enjoy herself. I’ve taken shots of her from inside my car but on this day I thought I’d do something a little different. With my camera mounted to a Manfrotto Magic Arm I got an exterior shot of Peaches from an angle I’ve never seen before. The shot was fun to make and it’s fun to look at. This is definitely one of my top 12 shots from the year.
Space Shuttle DIscovery | Fly-by Before Coming in for Landing
Seeing the most traveled space shuttle on her final flight was truly one memory I’ll treasure forever. Space Shuttle Discovery flew into Washington DC and made a pass around many local landmarks. Instead of trying to capture an image of her flying around DC I chose to set up and wait for her to land at the Dulles International Airport. I found a great spot on a hill outside the National Air & Space Museum and I captured some of my absolute favorite shots ever. A few days later I got to see Discovery and Enterprise “nose to nose” and those are also some of my favorite shots of the year. But nothing comes close to seeing Discovery in flight. I’m lucky to have witnessed it with my eyes and to have captured some shots of her before she was grounded forever.
Hurricane Sandy was one incredible storm. The news predicted it would strike the Washington DC area and because I live in Northern Virginia I was super worried that trees would take out everything from power to my roof. My girlfriend and I evacuated our home the day the storm hit our area and we took shelter at a horse farm where we had a generator that could supply heat and light. When the storm hit (in the middle of the night for us) it left a ton of damage and we were without power for over a week. I ventured out to capture some images of what the storm did and this shot really told the story of what it was like. I know that other areas of the country were hit much harder and my heart went out to all of them. In the grand scheme of things I was one of the lucky ones who was just inconvenienced by the hurricane.
I started my (current) photography business shooting Equine events in Northern Virginia. I’ve been shooting weddings and portraits for decades but photography was never my full-time job until I started shooting horse shows. This year I didn’t shoot as many shows as previous years but one show really stands out in my mind. On the final “grand prix” day of the Robert Duval Childrens Charity Fund Horse Show I was the official event photographer. I captured a lot of images I’m proud of including this beauty clearing the final jump of the course. But the biggest moment for me was meeting Mr. Duval and his incredible wife, Luciana. They have a home in Northern Virginia and both were truly nice people. When Robert spoke I had chills hearing his voice because he’s such an acting legend. When the winner was named the event sponsors gathered with Robert, Luciana and the grand prix champion. I took the official picture of the event that ran in newspapers and will be part of the advertising campaign for next years charity horse show. It was an incredible day made even better when I got to shake hands with one of my idols (who thanked me for my hard work). AWESOME!!!
“Deer in the Field”
One of my favorite assignments came from a horse farm owner that wanted pictures showing the beauty of their farm. Horse farms are places of hard work and long hours. Caring for these incredible animals is a 7 day a week job and it involves contributions from many people. But horse farms are also places of incredible beauty (especially during golden hours). For this assignment I spent a week shooting from different places on the farm. My days began hours before sunrise and ended well after the sun set. When the sun came up there was often a morning fog that gave my shots real atmosphere. When I shot this gazebo I set myself up to get the sun peeking through the top and that’s when I saw the deer off in the distance making their way through the morning fog. As many as twelve came through but this shot with four of them was my favorite. They made for a nice addition that tells the story of a northern Virginia morning on a farm.
“Available by the Pound”
It’s always nice when you can work for a local business. It’s even nicer when it’s a coffee shop that I spend time at. I’ve always liked spending my time at coffee shops. I love coffee, the little treats that taste so good with my coffee and especially the free wi-fi. My favorite local coffee shop is privately owned by some really nice people and it was great to spend time helping them to promote their business with my signature style of photography. I spent days shooting in the coffee shop and I brought a few things home to capture in my product photography studio. My favorite shot was of a bunch of beans with a stainless steel scoop that would help them say: “we sell fresh coffee beans”. This shot was super complicated to set up but the final image told a very simple story.
“the Clock Fixers Lathe”
2012 marked my first year participating in the Scott Kelby Worldwide Photowalk. This was another time when I got to meet a great bunch of photographers and just wander around sharing in the experience of taking pictures. My favorite part of the photowalk came when I spent some time talking with the workers of the Clock Shop in Vienna, VA. After getting to know what they did I was invited to get a look into an area that most people don’t get to see. This shot of the clock fixers lathe is a 10 shot HDR I tone-mapped in Lightroom 4 and it wouldn’t have happened if I didn’t get friendly with the staff. It’s a story that I’ll go into more detail in soon as part of a future blog entry.
“the Grand Staircase”
Richmond, VA is a long drive from where I live in Northern Virginia. I don’t usually spend time there but in 2012 I got to see the Lion King (traveling broadway production). The show was absolutely incredible and I wish I could have photographed it. While trying to decide on a hotel to stay at the historic Jefferson Hotel came up as being a nice place that was dog friendly (a must since Peaches would be coming along). The hotel didn’t disappoint. It was incredible and featured this grand staircase. I created the final tone-mapped HDR from a 3 shot set of images. The processing took me days to get exactly how I wanted it to look but I’m super happy with the results. The picture of the grand staircase tells a different story to anyone that sees it but to me it will be a reminder of an incredible evening seeing an incredible show and enjoying a beautiful hotel.
“Fireworks in the Magic Kingdom”
This year I had an fun vacation in Disney World and I took a bunch of pictures I love.
There are two things that really represent the Disney World experience for me. The castle and the fireworks. Capturing both of them in a single picture is a challenge due to the crowds that gather but I’ve found a place where I can capture some incredible fireworks shots in Disney’s Magic Kingdom. This is my favorite fireworks shot I took in 2012.
“Evenings Last Light”
This year I did a lot of engagement shoots. Unlike the stress and pressure of a wedding, the engagement shoot is calm and a great opportunity to get creative. I’m super happy that 2012 was the year when people started to see what I could create on location and my business really picked up.
This shot was captured as the sun set on an engagement shoot and it turned out so much better than I expected. Chasing the last light of the night is a challenge because you’re combining flash with the ambient light to get the best possible final shot. Camera settings need to be adjusted as the light changes and you need to work with the people in front of the camera to get a shot. I used a single flash and my couple supplied the pose. It was dark and nobody had any idea how the final shot would turn out. But even with all the challenges we faced we got plenty of great shots.
This image tells the story of Tom and Julie’s love for each other and it uses a sunset on a lake as the background. Without a doubt this is my favorite location portrait I captured in 2012.
“Fall Colors at Sunrise”
I spent a lot of time photographing in the Shenandoah Mountains this year. I decided that I would get back to what I really loved shooting, personally, and landscape shots were high on my list. I love being in the mountains and some of my favorite shots (including “Car Ride” above) were captured on Skyline Drive.
From up in the Shenandoah National Park you can shoot landscapes, wildlife, sunrises, sunsets and this year I began shooting the stars. Capturing pictures of the stars became my new favorite thing to do in my personal time and I was out all night some nights learning everything I could.
But as I went through all the shots I captured from up in the mountains this one really stood out as a favorite. After a long night shooting the stars I decided to stay to watch sunrise. I captured this image during the morning golden hour and it’s been one of my best selling prints from the year.
“Stone Sentinels of Antietam”
I love American history and I especially love to learn about the American Civil War. In the 150th anniversary of the Civil War there has been lots of events at battlefields and I love to attend as many as I can.
This year I made my first trip to Antietam National Battlefield Park and it really exceeded my expectations. The battlefield park is huge and you need to do a lot of walking and driving to see it all.
When I made my visit I was lucky to get incredible skies and few visitors. I learned about the history of Antietam and I captured plenty of images I really love. This shot of the monuments to New York was one of my first shots I took on my visit but it really shows how incredible the sky looked while I was there.
*Next up: 2013*
And that wraps up my 12 of 2012 collection. It was a huge challenge to get down to just 12 shots out of the thousands of pictures I took this year. I am super thrilled with how my photography developed this year and it’s been a real honor to share my work in social media and here on my blog. It was an incredible year and I’m really looking forward to an incredible 2013.
Special thanks to everyone who visited my photography blog in 2013. I really appreciate all of your support this year and I hope everyone enjoyed what I shared here. Have a safe and enjoyable new year!