So it’s that time of year to look back and reflect on all that has happened over the last 365 days. This year has been filled with a lot of ups and some serious downs. As some of you know, at the end of 2016, December 5th to be exact, I fell 22ft ending up in a Memphis hospital for 17 days. I was rushed to the E.R where skull and double knee surgery were required in which 50 staples were put into my head and my knee’s were locked straight for over a month. To this day, I’m still not fully recovered. The doctors estimated up to 2 years recovery time. Besides being thankful (of course) for still having cognitive abilities and being able to walk, climb, ride my bike and make photos, this year didn’t really start off to my liking. As the days went on things got better and as I sit here writing this, looking back on 2017, crazy as it sounds, I wouldn’t have had it any other way.
A side effect of the accident was that I had the opportunity to go on a few different trips that I wouldn’t have been able to do without having that time away from work, or the support of a lot of amazing people. Without these trips, I most likely wouldn’t even be creating this blog because I wouldn’t have enough photos to make it worth doing. I didn’t really make too many photos here in Denver this year for a variety of reasons.
In what follows are my favorite photographs from 2017. They may not be considered “bangers” to the Instagram world and for me that’s totally fine. I don’t make photos for likes, and I don’t make them with a need to wow an audience. I make them because I feel compelled to do so for one reason or another. A side effect of creating is that I can share online to people that are interested in looking, or to the few that choose to invest time and actually follow along. To make this more interesting, I’m going to include a short write up behind each one and why I chose to include it as one of my favorites for 2017.
These are in no specific order.
This is a portrait made of my girlfriend Samantha at the Naples Pier during sunset. She took me on a trip for my 30th birthday last April. We got to spend a couple days in Chicago, before flying out to Fort Myers Florida. I love this girl with all my heart.
This is a very special photograph to me. It was made to pay homage to my late friend Eric Janssen. Looking through his feed after his passing, I stumbled upon a photo of his and I don't know how it slipped past me.. I was so in love with his photo from this same isle, I knew I had to put my own take on it when I went to Memphis for his funeral.
This photo also represents to me the evolution of my photography since starting 5 years ago. I put everything I've learned into this photograph from the actual shoot, to the multiple attempts at it's post work. The composing, the focus, the levels, the settings, and the multiple images required to make this were 3 to be exact. The final product could not be done simply with one image. For the post work, that took several hours and multiple attempts.
Made somewhere at a DIY campsite in Moab Utah. Brandon @b.tormanen (left) is someone I've known since kindergarten and is a talented and inspiring photographer and friend. Always a good time to be in his company. David @_trauma (right) is also a talented photographer and inspiring friend I more recently met since moving to Denver. This was a great night under the stars with friends in a magical place.
The idea behind this photo was to juxtapose beauty and decay. I just think it's a very beautiful image that makes me feel some kind of way. I would really like to make a return trip to Detroit.
Also, made in Detroit. This time at an abandoned church. I am so in love with this photograph. It's one of those that makes you wonder what the hell you were thinking during your creative process to arrive at the final product. I remember rearranging the papers on the ground in this way, and I remember being so intrigued by the world "help" that was written next to the confessional.
During post, I removed all the other graffiti from the image in hopes the message that I wanted to convey would not be convoluted.
A portrait of my homie Nikolas Jones at Baker Beach in SF. I don't do many portraits but I really need to start making more of them of my friends and loved ones. As I learned this year, you aren't always promised to see them again. Also SF is one of my favorite cities and anytime I'm there it's guaranteed to be forever special to me.
Again, another juxtaposition of beauty and decay. I'm not even at all interested in religion but wow do humans make some beautiful buildings to represent it. I think it also says something about us as a society. For something humans hold so high, we sure let it fall just as quickly.
I love symmetry, and I love staircases. Put them together am I'm very happy.
The only roof we hit in Detroit. In the frame is one of my friends Tatiana @tatventures from Chicago. Her and Stephen @atavisme made the drive to hangout and explore around with us. I love the way the sun is hitting her face, the sunburst, and the 3 roads that vanish into the horizon.
This is 1 of 2 roof photos chosen as my favorites of the year. In 2016 I feel that was a large majority of what I did. I don't think it was the fall that had any impact on my change of subject matter, but a natural progression in my photography to expand and grow artistically.
Driving back into downtown Detroit with the homies Johnny @johnnymeant and MJ @mjinnyc. This was my first time meeting MJ after being connecting on social media for the last year or 2. For all the negatives that have come from IG, it does have the ability to connect you with great people. I'm super thankful I was able to be a part of this trip to Detroit.
The only self portrait I made of myself all year. I use to put myself in compositions when I first started photography but haven't done it in awhile. For me, this photo has great conceptualized meaning behind it. I wont go into detail but you can draw your own conclusions if you'd like. This was made 3 months after my fall out in Memphis.
During our time in Florida we rented a car and took a day trip down to Miami where Sam went to South Beach to chill and I met up with Johnny to run around and make some photos. I just really love the composition here. I've spent a good deal of time this year learning about photography and the legends of this art form and so this post work was inspired by Ansel Adams.
Back in May I found myself out in SF. For a brief second I spent some time with a couple girls I knew back from Minneapolis. I love this photo because to me it gives a great road trip vibe. Plus, it incorporates an iconic landmark that no one (including myself) can get enough of. And lastly, it was chosen because I found out this year that I'm a huge sucker for framing within frames and photos made in cars.
A portrait I made where I used the Golden Gate bokeh to point at my friend Evan Thompson. During this trip I finally got to meet Evan in person. We had been chatting over social media, texts and phone calls for over 2 years. It was super awesome and meaningful to finally meet in real life.
The 2nd of 2 roof photos in this blog. I hope I never forget what it was like to wake up to this scene. I had met up with a local photographer from SF that brought me on this roof the previous night and while it was cool, I knew the true photo potential would be sunrise. During this trip to SF I had been urban camping the entire time, so it wasn't like I had anywhere else to be. I decided to get some sushi and set up camp for the night. So beyond glad I did.
Goddamn, the G.G.B has been heavy in this blog but can you blame me? I love the shadows, composition, and the timing of the white car in the frame. I haven't seen anything like this before so that's always plus.
One of SF's most played out spots but I don't even care. It's a spiral staircase.
This was made during my first visit to the Oregon Coast. While out visiting some friends they were nice enough to include me in their families spring break week. We had a great time driving into California through Jedediah Smith State Park, then back into Southern Oregon to enjoy a fresh sushi dinner. Finishing off the adventure walking along the coastline for sunset. I love and miss my Oregon family, I love Oregon.
One of the few Denver photos I made this year. This was from a failed rooftop mission. To be honest, rooftopping out here blows and this photo came out way better framed in a window than it would of been had I actually got on the roof.
I love the clouds, the haze, the leading line of Broadway and the frame of the window I shot through. I made this handheld with great attention to detail for the lines.
Another thing with almost all of these photos is that there has been minimal to no cropping or transforming. This year I put a huge amount of time and effort into shooting everything exactly the way I want it in camera. This fact, which I would expect no one to see or care about means something to me, and thats all that matters, right?
I think there is a lot to be said about using prime lenses and them forcing you to move around to arrange the composition just so. Not only are they sharper, but they make you work more which usually in turn leads to a better photograph in my opinion. Another bonus of not cropping or minimally cropping is that your aspect ratios within the frame don't get fucked with and distorted.
From a solo road trip from Denver to Oregon. I Stopped at the Bonneville Salt Flats to see them covered in a shallow lake of water. I love the reflections, and the framing of the car windshield to hopefully push the road trip vibe.
This was actually shot on a 50mm 1.4 but with the Sony I turned the APS-C crop on to push the lens to 80mm.
Made this while driving through Nevada on the aforementioned road trip to Oregon. Stoked on my attention to detail (while driving) and looking through the view finder. 99% of my photos are made in the view finder.
I don't suggest you do this, but, I think it came out fucking sweet.
Along the same road as the previous photo. I love road trip vibes.
I love this minimalist photo that was made as a potential piece for a gallery show themed "Winter In America." I was composing the photo and just happened to see the birds flying in. I made 1 photo and my camera battery died. This is that photo and I couldn't be happier.
A lifestyle photo of a local graffiti writer. To be honest, not much was staged in this photo. I'm hugely inspired by graffiti, and graffiti culture.
Found this moniker of "The Polaroid Kidd" aka Mike Brodie while walking the tracks near my house. I was so excited to find this. Mike is one of my favorite photographers. His photo book "A Period Of Juvenile Prosperity" is insane. He also has another titled "Tones Of Dirt And Bone". If you are unfamiliar, you should check them out.
My friend Aser's handiwork riding tough during Denver rush hour traffic. After biking away, I went about a block and checked what I had done. I was really unsatisfied so I turned around and went back. Super happy I did. In just that short time it had gotten much darker enabling me to throw on the Sony's I.B.I.S and slow the shutter down a bit. I was also able to recompose just a little bit.
The piece I ended up choosing for the Winter In America gallery. Again, I can't really express why I like this photo so much, it just makes me feel some kind of way.
I found this at an abandoned house in Denver. This photo was actually made on my 2nd time here. When I first found this cat, it was in the shade next to a fence. I know it's fucked up but I found a stick and moved it into the sun so it would dry out and degrade into a skeleton faster. I came back a few weeks later and not much had changed. The backyard was littered with cat food cans so I decided to sprinkle them around the composition in a very specific way.
During some reading about composition, I read about introducing triangles to keep the eyes moving around the photo, they also help add balance.
I just really like this photo. Maybe it's the blues, or the composition mixed with the fact that I really like trains. Made in KCMO.
For this, I actually drove that stretch of road 3 or 4 times, I can't remember. I kept turning around and driving back and forth trying to get the photo I wanted. I got a few that I really like but I think this is my favorite. Another one made while driving.
The Sterick aka "The Queen of Memphis" was the location of my fall from 2016. I felt like I owed it a beautiful tribute photo.
Another photo from my latest trip to Memphis. After Eric's funeral, everyone went to Central BBQ. While that place is amazing, I needed to go to Ernestine and Hazel's and get a Soul Burger.. These were Eric's favorite, and his favorite place. While there, I talked to one of the bar tender/cooks about Eric and she played me 3 of his favorite songs on their juke box. This was extremely meaningful.
For anyone curious they are:
Al Green - Love and Happiness
James Brown - The Payback
Al Green - Tired of Being Alone
Fuck this hateful ass kid in a wheelchair. I'm a little bummed about the lens flare but what can you do? Maybe, in time my PS game will improve to be able to clean that up... I have a few other images of this situation that I use to like more so I deleted this raw file. I'm so glad I still have the .jpeg because it's one of those that you didn't appreciate at the time but now is obviously the best one from the set. At least it has a decent edit.
Lastly, this was made on the above mentioned family spring break trip from Southern Oregon to Jedediah Smith National Park. I really love the composition from inside the car. The Red Woods are one of the most magical places in America. If you have never been, I highly suggest you check em out.
For 2018, I want to expand the blog to more than just my images and stories. I want to dive into more educational/philosophical stuff to inspire you or learn you something new if you're interested in that kind of thing. My goal moving forward is to do 1 new blog per month. I have some ideas in mind already that will hopefully be pretty informative and interesting.
As always, thanks for checking out the blog!