Saturday, December 28, 2013

Best of 2013: Pictures

In the past, I've kept this Best Of post at 12 pictures, but this year I couldn't seem to narrow it down. I shot a lot; my current count is well over 19,000 pictures for the year. My Best Of Pictures is an attempt to put together the highlights of my year. Is it just me, or did this year seem like it went on and on forever? There was a big increase on what I shot for the newspapers and I really shot a lot more nature stuff than I normally do. I did my best to refrain from concert photography in this post; those pictures get their own collage later in the week. 2013 had its share of adventures and I can't wait for what 2014 has in store.

From Left to Right, Top to Bottom:

1. Ben Thornwell of Jukebox the Ghost: This was a big moment for me as far as my concert photography goes. I attended the show as a fan with my DSLR. I'd gotten advice from another concert photographer that I admire; he told me to start bringing my camera with me to shows where the venue allowed it. I was at the front of the stage when another blogger showed up. We alternated spots during the show so we could both get usable shots. This turned out to be Adam from Surviving the Golden Age and I've been shooting with his blog ever since. Until this point, I felt like a concert photographer without a home. Thanks for giving me a place to call my own!

2. We got another addition to the family this year: Hannah. She's absolutely perfect and really completes that family. Welcome, Hannah, and you've got tons of pictures in your future!

3. Green Ride: This was an assignment for the newspaper. Thousands of bikers rode through multiple towns to raise funds for the families of Newtown. I'm from Connecticut and I've seen how it effected so many of the surrounding communities. I wanted to capture something special from this event, so I decided ahead of time to get a panning shot as the bikers passed by. I took probably close to 200 photos panning and this one came out perfect. The pop of color on the motorcyclists bandana and the flashing of the peace sign made it that much better. It is, by far, my favorite picture I've taken this year.

4. Stratford Answerbook Cover: I took over as the main cover photographer for the Eastern papers this year. This was my first Answerbook cover, and my favorite of the five towns I shot.

5. Carnival Ride: Night photography is one of my first passions. I was asked to cover a carnival in Monroe and I brought along my tripod to get some long exposure shots. They were a lot of fun on digital AND film.

6. Addy and her first Christmas Tree: My cat has never seen a Christmas tree before! I've always been afraid of her climbing it or attacking the ornaments, but she's been a perfect angel.

7. Danny Kavadlo: My trainer asked me to come take pictures of a workshop. The end result is my first publication in a book. Danny loved this shot so much, he used it in his book. Such an honor, thanks, Danny!

8. Christopher Walken: This happened the day after Hannah was born, so I was in a bit of a daze. I'd driven to New York and back, then ended up being the main still photographer while Walken spoke about his career in the town of Stratford. I was so nervous, I could barely speak to him.

9. Anna and Sara meet Robert Sledge: There is nothing better than meeting your internet friends! I was fortunate enough to meet a few of my friends for the first time this year and made more while out at shows. Sara, Anna and I met up to see the Last Summer on Earth tour in Philly, which would have been enough fun for me, but we got to meet Robert Sledge of Ben Folds Five after the show. I can't wait to do it again, ladies!

10. Michael Bolton: FINALLY! For those of you that know me, I've been trying to photograph Mr. Bolton for a long time. The best explanation I can give you is that Michael Bolton has been my El Guapo and I've finally faced that.

11. Grace 12. Hannah 13. Aria 14. James These are my nieces and nephew and I love how they each have their own strong personalities. I'm so lucky to be able to capture that as they grow.

15. Meagher Family Portraits: I've been doing these for about five years now and I finally convinced the gang to head outside! We were lucky with the warm weather and man, do the pictures rock this year!

16. Ladybug: I was out searching for a cover shot for the Trumbull Answerbook and stumbled across this. I was trying to frame up a picture of the town hall with wildflowers and just happened to look down. Although this wouldn't work for the cover, it's a great picture and really taught me to notice the little things.

17. Fall Foliage: I didn't get out and get the wide shots I wanted to this year, but I found a couple of lovely details along the way.

18. Botanical Garden, NY: My brother and sister in law asked me to take pictures at the Botanical Garden to use as a wedding gift for their friends. Please! Me and flower details? Sign me up!

19. Spanish Moss, Jekyll Island: I took another vacation this year and headed back to Jekyll Island. I brought along minimal equipment, which forced me to use a lens that really hadn't been a part of my arsenal before, my 35-350mm 5.6 lens. It's a beast and weighs a ton, but it was pretty sweet to be able to travel with one lens and get all the shots I wanted.

20. Luke: I dog sat for friends a couple of times this year. Although I'm a cat person now, I grew up with dogs. Sometimes it's fun to just run around in the yard, playing ball with a dog. Luke has such a personality to him and this wide angle shot cracks me up. Big huge nose and tiny little feet!

21. Millionaires Village, Jekyll Island: I spent more time photographing the architecture on the island this year. My eye has definitely changed as a result of all the Answerbook photography I've done. That's a straight up post card shot.

22.  Me and Ray Cycle: How often do you get the chance to photograph a super hero from your childhood? Chris Rowlands, AKA Ray Cycle, used to tour the grammar schools in Connecticut when I was growing up, teaching kids about recycling. I found out Chris was playing at the Nature Center in Ansonia this year, so I went to photograph it, of course! I rarely take pictures with people; I prefer to be the one behind the camera, but I absolutely had to have a picture with Ray Cycle.

23. Stratford Fireworks: I haven't taken serious fireworks pictures in about seven or eight years. I don't always want to lug my tripod and big lenses down to the beach, where they can get damaged with the sand and passersby. I got some great long exposure shots with a ton of color. These are always fun and I really need to do them every year.

24. My Triumphant Return to Graduation Photography: Another huge milestone for me. Back in 2006, I was accosted at the end of the Foran High School graduation that I was covering for the paper. The assistant to the principal was none too pleased with me doing my job even though I checked with security and they allowed me onto the field. She said some ridiculous things to me and emailed my editor, referring to me as the "Photographer in the Green Shirt". It was a bizarre experience that's stuck with me for many years. My personal facebook icon has always been and always will be a bright green box because I joined shortly after this happened. It still makes me chuckle to this day. I agreed to cover Monroe High School's graduation this year after making sure there would not be another incident. I dressed in khakis and a black shirt, but I threw in my bright green shoes as a throwback to the last graduation. As I waited for the graduates to come down to the field, I snapped this picture with my cell phone to mark the occasion. I came this close to changing my facebook profile picture, but why mess with a good thing?

Although there have been several growths in my photography, I lost someone that influenced me a great deal this year. Wayne Ratzenberger was a photographer whose work was seen by just about everybody that lived in Connecticut over the years. I was incredibly fortunate to have worked with Wayne at Hometown Publications and then with Hersam Acorn and I learned so much from him. He had an amazing ability to capture a person's personality and it is something I aspire to. Wayne was always willing to give advice and go over techniques. He always made sure to tell me when he was impressed with my work, which was the highest form of praise I could every ask for. I've included one of my favorite shots of Wayne's. It's bold and striking and something I never would have thought to capture at a press conference. I'd like to think that my work has become better as a result of Wayne's influence, and for that, I am eternally grateful.

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