In what’s definitely good news for me, I had a really hard time trying to narrow five photos that I was really proud that I had taken during 2009. There were still quite a few I would have liked to have included, but I had already upped it from three to five so I had to draw the line somewhere. They’re in no particular order, but all resonated strongly with me from this past year for one reason or another.
In reflecting back on them and on the year that’s just come to an end, I realized that while not only has my photography changed (for the better), but I have as well (for better and worse). I thought back to when I first moved up here to Jackson Hole a little over a year ago and thought about how excited I was to wake up early every day and go exploring for anything I could find to take a picture of. But like so many of us tend to do, I’ve become a little stagnant because I’ve allowed myself to get a little too used to my surroundings and have begun taking them for granted, despite living in the middle of what I think is the most beautiful place on Earth.
So without even intending to, I’ve created a New Year’s resolution, mostly in regards to my photography, but I’ll keep it applicable to most things in my life, and that is not to take anything for granted. As a photographer, that’s the key to continuing success. It’s easy to see things new for the first time when you’re traveling, but to see your home as something new every day is a bit more of a challenge and that typically is what makes or breaks a photographer from passing the "endurance test" that many don’t even know they’re taking. If you can’t find ways to see the most common things in your life in new and exciting ways, then you’re not going to make it very far. It’s this very concept that continues to allow photography to evolve. Without it, we’d all still be looking at the same images of the Grand Canyon and the Tetons. Millions of people visit these same places and infinitely more all taking pictures in the exact same spots countless others have before, yet we’re continually amazed at photos that come back that look nothing like what anyone else has captured.
It’s not about having a special gift or sitting in the same spot for seven hours or something waiting for just the right moment. Many times it simply happens just from stepping back for a second and just taking in the beauty that surrounds you wherever you might find yourself. If you can isolate what it is about a particular scene that’s really taking your breath away, then nine times out of ten you’ll have no problem capturing that very moment on a camera.
It doesn’t matter if you’re in the middle of a city or on a farm. There’s something there that can inspire you that you see most of your week that you can look at in a new way. My favorite method is to simply strip away all mental labels about an object and look at it just as it is. Try it next time you’re looking at a tree, or a skyscraper, or a mountain, or a deer, or anything else at all for that matter.