Life is what happens to us when we are busy making other plans, or so it's been said. Maybe so, but 2014 came at me so fast, I'm not certain it left time for me to make other plans.
I've run a photoblog for my own amusement for over five years now, and each year I end it with a post of my favorite images from the previous year. I'm not certain, but I suspect 2014 is the year in which I've taken more photos but shared fewer than any other. Instead of a re-hash of 2014, I'd rather share a few words of wisdom, newly gained (but surely not new). Aimed at my fellow photographers, I think there's something in them for each of us.
Though I've done this for five years, the reason I pay to host a blog has changed substantively over that period of time. So too has changed my feelings toward the broader online photography community, what it has to say, what it values, what it produces, etc.
Photoblogs, photo rumor / news sites, photo pundits, photo communities, social networks are everywhere suffused with mediocrity: gear reviews, best business practices for photographers, "why I switched to camera company A," ceaseless re-hashes of the basic pedantic explanations of camera operation, and so on. It is an echo chamber - you can enter this photo enthusiast / professional world and keep yourself busy all day, every day, and never speak to another soul outside of the echo chamber.
Why bother? Why do you spend time with a camera? Just to make a few pretty pictures, or is there a narrative you're laboring to deliver? What story does your work tell?
Unplug from the echo chamber, even just for a bit - unsubscribe, unfollow, ignore. Your story will be the richer for it.
Onward to 2015
Last year I ended 2013 with a series focused on the twisted and magnificent pines that rim the Grand Canyon:
I remember the way the canyon begins and the south rim ends. It ends in mausoleum silence punctuated by the crunch of boot on fresh powder.
This year I remember the way the December ends, with my footfalls matched by Oliver's on Candoglia marble. We walked past candles, tourists, and Saint Bartholomew Flayed to the stairs beneath the choir. We walked down into the crypt.
Saint Carlo Borromeo lay interred behind us, but our attention was upon a bright blue reliquary shining forth through its case and cage. Oliver asked me, with the irreverence only a toddler can conjure, "What's that?"
How to answer? Every answer from direct to evasive would equally have been a lie. In the end I don't know what I said, something close to "an object that people in the church believe is very special."
When we came to Borromeo, he posed the same question. Though I doubt he understood any of what I said, I was nevertheless heartsore to say, "Remember when we lived in California? Well a long time ago a man named Junipero Serra built a small church along the cost and named it after the person who rests here."
We ascended the steps to regain the square, I bought some almond torrone, and Val and Henry had their chance inside the Duomo. As we ate, I reflected on my path from California to here, on the threads of history and fate that enshrine the globe and that can whisk me from the crypt of the Duomo to my uncle's memorial in Serra's church, the smell of the incense, the way that wind beat the fog onshore afterward. The world is too much with us, late and soon.