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2018 Top Ten Photos

It’s taken long enough. This should have been done at least a month ago, but it has been a difficult process. I have worked through all of the images that I took last year and finally compiled my list of my 2018 Top Ten photos.

Honestly, this is far more important to me, than it is to you. I recognize that. But it is a necessary experiment, I believe, in order for me to continually work at improving my work.

The Process

The process of choosing the top ten for 2018 wasn’t difficult because I am such a masterful photographer, who believes that every one of his images belongs here. Not at all. In fact, whacking down thousands of photos to a half dozen or so was really easy. Actually, I do that throughout the year. Every time I go through a series of images that I have shot, I take the photo or two that jump off the screen at me and mark them as a candidate.

At the end of the year, I looked at all of those and quickly eliminated the ones that clearly didn’t make the cut. That got me down to 20. See? Easy!

From there it got more difficult. Every image in that list held some sort of significance – at least to me. I knew the story of every photo, and the reasons that I liked it. Many of which had nothing to do with the actual image. For instance, pictures of grandchildren automatically rate higher! A difficult hike to put myself in position to take the image has to count for something, right?

In the end, though, my 2018 Top Ten represents something photographically. The object of the exercise, of course, is to track my work from year to year. No one wants to become stagnant in their craft and the only true way of measuring things is to look, honestly, at the work on a periodic basis. Sometimes, it is difficult to compare landscapes with portraits or a still life, but there are always benefits to reviewing the work both technically and artistically.

So, for reasons known mostly only to myself, here are my Top Ten photos from 2018. They are presented chronologically.

2018 top Ten - Headshot

This is a fairly straightforward headshot, with basic clamshell lighting, done in a home studio. It features one of my favorite models, of course, but I am most happy with the tones here. Lots of grays and blues bring some uniformity to the image, and her expression is perfectly captured.

2018 Top Ten - Springtime portrait

OK. I will recognize that this, too, is one of my favorite models! No more after this one, I promise. Pictures are supposed to tell a story. Only he and I know that for 30 minutes before we captured this image and for at least 30 minutes afterwards, he was in perpetual motion. But like all two year old boys, the presence of a dandelion, waiting to be picked and blown into the spring breeze, was just too tempting to pass by. The picture almost seems peaceful. But soon, the seeds were gone and I was chasing him again!

These are the kinds of family pictures I love capturing. Because his Mom knows that under all that energy and somewhere in all those wiggles is a little boy that is still fascinated by spring flowers. Years from now, this image will help bring her back to this moment in time.

2018 Top Ten - Middleton Place
Middleton Place, Charleston, South Carolina

I’ve been asked more than once – both by those that have seen the digital version of this image, as well as those who have seen the print hanging in my house – if this is a painting. I suspect that has something to do with that dogwood and those yellow leaves peeking out from behind it. I can assure you that it is a photograph. But I took advantage of that lack of contrast in the upper half of the frame, as well as the hues in that bench, to create a peaceful image that evokes (at least for me) a sense of resting.

2010 Top Ten - Bridge at Middleton Place
Bridge at Middleton Place

If you have followed this blog for any period of time, you may remember this image. I featured it last year when talking about the value of photography workshops. The previous image also came from that workshop in Charleston, SC. This photo, I think, may be my favorite from the event. The sun had actually set. I was heading back to my car. I had just crossed the bridge and stopped for a moment to look back at the pond. Believing that the moment for a good photo had actually passed, I nearly kept walking. I’m glad I changed my mind. It was so dark that this is actually a 30 second exposure, which helps smooth the water a provide the mirror-like reflection.

2018 Top Ten - Milky Way off the South Carolina Coast
Milky Way Over Hunting Island, South Carolina

I blogged about this image last year, too. 2018 marked my first efforts at Milky Way photography. So it only stands to reason that one of those images would be in my list of favorites for the year!

2018 Top Ten - Sunflower Field
Sunflower Field. York County, South Carolina

Most of my landscape images are bigger. Wider. Broader. I am beginning to see the value in details though. I liked how these flowers “posed” for me, safely framed by two others who seemed to watching out for intruders!

2018 Top 
Ten - Upper falls of the Holly River. West Virginia
Upper Falls of the Holly River. Webster County, West Virginia

Would you believe that I only carried black and white film with me on this day? I’m kidding, of course, but I liked the simplicity of a black and white image here. It certainly directs your attention to the explosive force of the water as it hit the river surface. This, too, is a longer exposure, of course (1.6 seconds).

2018 Top Ten - Sunset at Dead Horse Point
Sunset at Dead Horse Point, Utah.

We were able to spend a week in Utah last year. Candidly, the weather didn’t cooperate as much as I would have liked, but one evening the sky gave us that lovely shade of neon cotton candy for a minute. And only a minute. And then it was gone. Click the image (as you can with all of them) for a better view. Those desert colors are fascinating to this easterner!

2018 Top Ten - Rock Hill Senior Portrait Photographer
Bringing the Thunder

We’ll finish this list of my 2018 Top Ten photos the way we began, with two portraits. The first is a shot from a Senior Portrait session. With some simple lighting and a cooperative sky, we were able to put together a dramatic shot of this young man at a local park.

I sometimes hear my peers say “I am a natural light photographer”. Frankly, they often say it with an air that says “If you need artificial light, you are resting on a crutch.”

I disagree, obviously. I am an “available light” shooter. Some light is available from the sun, or a window, or a street sign, or a flash! We use the light we have to create the image we want. The image above would not have been possible without some artificial light.

On the other hand, the image below needed nothing other than the diffused sunlight, filtering through the clouds, and falling on our subject. His relaxed posture, the setting and the light all combine for an image that communicates the emotion of the moment, I believe.

2018 Top Ten - Portrait at Historic Brattonsville
“Doc” – Historic Brattonsville

So those are my picks from the year. I’d be interested in knowing which are your favorites from my 2018 Top Ten photos, and why. Please feel free to comment below. And, of course, don’t hesitate to contact me if there is any way that I can help you, your family, or your business.

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