I was prepared to wax eloquent about the past year, about its challenges, its highs and lows. About how for all the hard moments there have been moments of joy. About how it's been a stretching experience. About how I'm not quite there yet, but I'm closer.
But you know what? This is about the images. So sit back and engage with some of my favorite images from the past 12 months (which, you'll notice is weighted heavily toward portrait work with essentially no news work, as opposed to last year's retrospective).
(My good friend, old co-worker and roomie, and great web designer Adam, of whose beard-growing prowess I'm supremely jealous.)
(One of many colorful characters in Washington, D.C.'s 2011 St. Patrick's Day parade.)
(Another portrait of Channapha, an amazing cook and CEO of Legacies of War.)
(This shoot was, outside of Facebook, the first time I'd met Crystal, but we had a super relaxed and fun time walking around Eastern Market in D.C. and creating images.)
(Sometimes the old-school Hollywood look you have in your mind's eye and what you do with the camera delightfully collide.)
(If had to actually produce a favorite photos list of reasonable length, this would be on the short list.)
(Joseph is a great friend, fine musician and all-around good dude to have in front of the camera when a happy accident like this happens.)
(Sometimes, the best place to shoot for a hair and makeup portfolio is a dingy, dimly-lit back alley.)
(Or, somewhere like that.)
(My friend and former co-worker, Fran, is a great photographer and also at ease in front of the camera.)
(In addition to having a camera-friendly face — are you paying attention casting directors? — Scott is an all-around good dude.)
(This was the first time I'd met Michelle, who had apparently not had the greatest experience with photographers in the past, but we had a relaxed blast shooting together.)
And, capping off this section, six of my favorite images I created this month with my friend Sarah, who's supremely photogenic and ridiculously comfortable in front of a camera.)
(Shooting Sheridan and Jade's outdoor wedding was one of the last things I shot before leaving California for Washington earlier this year. It was a pleasure.)
Two months later, I documented Mario and Rachel's beautiful and all-out celebratory Malibu wedding...
Four photos that don't fit in other categories
(Joseph makes an appearance again, busting out some spacey, rockin' tones with his band A Concrete Mess.)
These next two... Frankly, it's pretty challenging to take a bad photo of El Capitan in Yosemite National Park. I mean, look at it.
The token "the iPhone is amazing" section
But in all seriousness, having an iPhone has breathed a bit of fresh air into my shooting this year. The absolute ease of always having with me a compact and powerful imaging tool cannot be understated, whether I'm using it as a visual notepad for future shoots, using it as a discreet street photography camera, or just being able to capture candid moments without carrying around a bulky SLR. (My most-used photo apps, in case you're wondering, are Hipstamatic, Instagram, and Camera+ in conjunction with a few editing apps.)
(Another moment I nearly missed along the waterfront in Edmonds, WA, as this couple stopped moving just long enough for me to pull out my phone.)
That last image is from somewhere along Interstate 5 in Northern California, taken as I left behind my home of the past decade-plus and headed for WA. As I head into a new year still marked by certain uncertainty, it's an apt image.
And with that, I bid you a happy new year. When you get right down to it, the new year is just a changing of the calendar, but it's still a good time to look back, reflect, and look ahead and make the most of each new day.