Recently I’ve been reflecting on the type of photography I enjoy the most. I’m fortunate to work as a full time photographer/videographer, but I’ve come to realize that many assignment I get paid to do don’t have a lot of personal meaning for me. Don’t get me wrong – I’m passionate about creating good work, it’s just that much of what I do is used for a corporate purpose. Again, there is nothing wrong with this, but it got me thinking about what pieces of my own work do I value the most. I set out to pick my top three images – the three images from my body of work that I have the strongest connection to.
Selecting just three images was incredibly difficult. The only thing that made it possible was the decision that my top three could change from day to day and that the three selections are equally meaningful. They are not listed in any order of importance or meaningfulness.
So here they are. The photo at the top of this post and the two below are my current top 3 photos. I’ve written a short description for each one and why it is meaningful. I encourage you to do the same. I’d love for you to pick your top three photographs, write a short description as to why you chose each one, and post (as one post) over in the Camera Stupid Facebook Group.
Children of Payatas (Top of post)
I’ve already written about my experience this summer in the Philippines. I was there documenting a mission trip to bring food to some of the poor communities in Manila. What I experienced was difficult and heartbreaking. Like many that were there, my outlook has changed and I hope to do more on a regular basis to help people who are suffering. One thing that will stay with me is the fact that despite the difficult living situation, there was still joy and happiness. I captured this shot of these children shortly before an intense rainstorm. As the rain started to fall, the children motioned for me to join them under their shelter. For me, this image represents the strength of the human spirit. It’s a reminder to me to never take anything for granite and it’s a token of my commitment to be kind and share the blessings I have with my fellow brothers and sisters.
Delicate Arch, Moab Utah
This shot made my top three for a few reasons. I’ve written about the planing, hiking, and post processing of this shot here. I love this shot because it’s not your typical shot of Delicate Arch. On first glance it may look like a standard winter landscape panorama, however this shot was taken well after dark. I hiked alone, in the dark and cold to this arch and used long exposure and moonlight to capture this shot with the stars visible in the sky while the foreground is perfectly lit by the waxing moon.
Another reason it made the list has more to do with me personally. I really love the outdoors but I’m not what you would consider an outdoorsman. I’m not especially athletic and I don’t have many climbing or survival skills. There was definitely an element of fear that I had to overcome in order to leave my nice warm hotel room and attempt this hour long hike in December darkness. As I started at the trail head It was so cold and dark that I nearly turned back. It’s my love of photography that kept me from giving up and not trying for this shot. A thousand excuses went through my head as to why it was better to just forget it and go back to bed. In the end I pushed forward into the unknown and kept going.
This particular trail traverses sandstone in places where there is no visible trail save for small piles of rocks called “cairns” that hikers or park rangers have piled up to help you know where to go. Without these markers I would have been easily lost, especially in the dark where my visibility was limited by the reach of my flashlight. There were stretches of trail where I couldn’t see the next cairn and I had to keep going in faith that I’d find another one, and then another one.
Eventually I turned the corner of a rock cliff… and the view opened up into a vast black void. It was so dark that I could just barley see the arch with my naked eye. I remember that moment vividly. I had just pushed pass fear, cold, darkness, and a moderately difficult hike uphill and I couldn’t even see the with my eyes the subject I had come to photograph. In fact, despite having been there, I still haven’t really seen it person – only through my long exposure photograph did it become visible in all it’s glory. I hope to return again someday and share this magnificent place with my family. Oh – and get a look at the arch with my own eyes.
There is something wonderful about kids. It’s incredible to re-experience the world as they experience things for the first time. I grabbed this shot of our oldest son one quiet night as we were building a fire in out backyard fire pit. He was entranced by the fire and was burning the end of a stick as all kids do. The end of the stick glowed red and he would pull it out of the fire and blow on it to get it to glow brighter. He’d study the wisps of smoke that streamed out into the cool spring air. In that moment nothing else mattered but being there with him. This photo is a reminder to enjoy my kids and take time to experience life with them. Those moments are quickly passing and will never come again.
Again, I’d love for you to pick your top three photographs, write a short description as to why you chose each one, and post (as one post) over in the Camera Stupid Facebook Group. If you don’t have Facebook, feel free to post in the comments below.