Like last year, I want to share my passion for taking photographs with all of you. While I don’t profess to be anything more than someone who loves to take photos, I do hope that by sharing these photos and related stories, I am able to share a bit about myself and the things that are important to me with all of you. And… perhaps inspire other amateurs to take more photos and share their stories along the way. This year, I captured nearly 5500 images, about 700 with my iPhone the balance with my Canon 50D.
The vast majority of my photos are of my children, as it should be. I keep promising myself I will take a “kid-free” morning to just go take pictures and, like past years, I failed to keep my promise. Of course, I also promised myself I would take a photography class. Instead, I just keep pushing buttons hoping that the money I invested in my camera and lenses makes up for my pure amateurism.
Similar to last year, I will reveal one per day for the remainder of the year. Some are technically good, others are special within the context they are taken. I will do my best to articulate why each is special to me.
I hope you enjoy. Feel free to comment or email me directly (firstname.lastname@example.org) with your critiques.
If you are a Flickr user, I’d love to have you add me as a contact.
Picture 1: Spore
I took this picture with my 100 mm 2.8 Macro lens. For me, this is a great example of why I need to take time to find the beauty in everyday things… even a “gross” cluster of mushrooms growing near my kids’ swing set.
But, the other great “take away” from this photo is how others recognized my work. It was affirming (and humbling) to have others (strangers) in the Flickr community comment on my photos, add it as a favorite, and ask for it to be added to a group pool of macro photos.
It’s just nice to know that a dad with a camera can take a photo that is sought after by others with talent beyond that which he is familiar. [see other Macro photos here.]
Picture 2: Rolling
It had been 2 years since we had to put our beloved Dewey down. He lived a wonderful 16+ years, the last 15 with us. Putting him down was difficult and it took us two years to adopt another dog. But, in March we brought Bella to our home and into our lives and we are better for doing so.
Just a puppy (7 mos) when we adopted her, it would be safe to say there were some trying times. But watching her chase her ball, chew up a stick, lay on your lap, or as seen in this picture, just roll in the grass, has given our family a joy and love similar to that which we experienced with Dewey for such a long time. As hard as it was to move on to another dog, Bella has proven to be wonderful addition to our family and we are so glad we brought her home.
So, while this picture doesn’t really give you a chance to see her, it best represents Bella’s mischievous and playful personality. That’s why it’s in the 2011 Top 10.
FWIW. We adopted Bella from the NH SPCA. There are so many dogs worthy of adoption – I hope others choose to do the same.
Picture 3: Earlybird Emma
This picture combines a number of our favorite things. First, the kids love Squamscott Soda, a local soda bottler that only sells its product locals coffee shops, delis and lunch counters. The super sweet orange soda seen on the table is hands down their favorite.
Second, I used my favorite new iPhone app to take this picture. Most of you with smart phones are familiar with Instagram and probably recognized this image as an Instagram image. Here, I used Instagram’s Earlybird filter to soften the light and give this image a bit of a classic advertiser’s feel*.
Finally, this photo was taken at our favorite breakfast spot, Me & Ollie’s in Exeter, NH. Every Sunday we head to “Ollie’s” for breakfast and family time. On this particular morning, it was just Emma and I and we were waiting for mom to arrive after her run with “Auntie Becky” (the other two kids were at sleep overs). While Emma sat quietly looking out the window for mom’s car, I laid my iPhone on it’s side on the table and captured the shot.
Of all the images I took this year, there was a simple elegance to this picture that made this one of my top 10 of 2011.
*I actually sent this picture to Squamscott in hopes that they would use it in their advertising – and pay us in free soda. No luck yet.
Picture 4: Base Hit
Years from now, Ben will say that this was a home run like this shot from last year, but in reality it was a solid base hit to left center. Of the 600+ images I shot of Ben’s baseball team this summer, this was the only one I shot of the ball, frozen on the bat in mid swing. Truthfully, I almost chose this shot of one of Ben’s teammates avoiding a high inside pitch. But, in the end, the crispness of this moment frozen in time ultimately led me to choose this as one of my top 10 photos of 2011.
Picture 5: Sunset
This fall I had the honor to present at the innaugural North Country Educational Services (NCES) “Tap Into Tools” Conference. It was held at the incredibly beautiful Mountain View Grand Resort located in Whitefield, NH. A little more than 2 hours north of my home in Stratham, I raced north just in time to see the sun set from the mountaintop resort. Prior to even checking in, I grabbed my cell phone (no DSLR), used my second favorite App, ProHDR and hurried around the grounds to try to capture the colors before they disappeared behind the mountains. The contrast between the purple and pink sky, the snow covered peak of Mt. Washington, and the still green grass below made this a top 10 picture of 2011 for me.
Picture 6: LAX
Those of you who are parents can probably recall looking at pictures of your children and saying, “Oh my.” This image of Ben did that for Kelli and I, not because of how his red shirt helps him pop off the page, but because of how old he looked to us. As we downloaded and reviewed the images from that day, we both stopped here and asked, “Okay, when did he get old?” Thus, it was our reaction to this photo, not its technical attributes that landed it in my top 10 for 2011.
BTW: This funny picture of Ben trying to pass around this (much taller) defender was a close second.
Picture 7: I Don’t Normally Drink Beer, but When I Do…
The place is Lake Winnepasaukee and the dock is located at my sister’s (Becky) cottage. What makes this place so incredible isn’t just the peace that this image displays, but the people who are so kind to share this space with our family. Becky’s cottage is part of a larger group of cottages that all share common land and the people there are terrific. Not a night goes by when folks are not sitting out this dock, drink of choice in hand, and doing nothing more than enjoying each other’s company. I feel incredibly lucky that not only my sister and her husband allow us to use their cabin, but the many summer friendships we have made at the lake are now beginning to extend four seasons.
As for this image, I use ProHDR on my iPhone which allows me to get pretty high quality images with correct exposures throughout the image. While I am still amazed that the quality of image that can be taken by a phone, it’s the memories of peaceful conversations with very good people that make this one of my top 10 pictures of 2011.
Picture 8: Two Gifted Educators
In 2011 I continued to learn how important it is to build meaningful and powerful relationships with others. I still struggle with this a bit at times and have written more than once (with more to come) about my natural inclination to be an introvert, but as I reviewed my photos from 2011, this picture reminded me just how lucky I am to have made the personal and professional connections I have made over the past few years.
This image is of my very good (local) friend Steve Gagnon, and my very good (global) friend, Shannon Miller. It best represents the reach and importance of my network. Steve was my son’s teacher and was eager to jump on board with some of the initiatives I brought to the district while I was the Assistant Superintendent. He now has really taken on the mantle of being an ed leader, both locally and globally, all the while continuing to work with 4th grade students at Stratham Memorial School. Shannon, of course, works in Van Meter, IA and is one of the more recognizable educators across the country – a credit to her willingness to share and her incredibly friendly personality. I can think of no more enjoyable evening than the one I got to spend with Steve, Shannon, Pat Larkin (not pictured) and their respective spouses in Boston this summer. It was as if we had all been friends for a long time as we had a connection only found in those who commit to cultivating a network of friends and learners.
But, as amazing as these two are and as amazing as it is to have them as friends, it’s the fact that they represent the incredible network of educators that are willing create powerful networks with others committed to do the same that makes this picture one of my top 10 photos of 2011.
Picture 9: The Photog
On a “chamber of commerce” fall day Kelli, the kids and I took short ride up the coast of Maine. We made a stop at the Nubble Light House, ate lunch in Perkins Cove (where I shot one my favorite all time images of Kelli), and took a nice walk up Marginal Way in Ogunquit, ME. This picture of Emma was taken at Nubble Light. It’s her taking a picture of the coast with her iTouch. The fact that Emma just picked up her iTouch and started taking pictures without being “amazed” (like many of the adults watching her did), the reminder of great memories from that day, and the way that Emma pops off the background of the ocean make this one of my top 10 images of 2011.
Picture 10: Atop Stratham Hill
Like last year’s final picture, this black and white image was taken atop Stratham Hill Park. Unlike last year’s, this image features only Elisabeth.
With three kids all within a few years of one another, its rare that either Kelli or I get to spend quality one-on-one time with any of them especially, in our case, with one of the girls since the two do so many things together. So, on this summer evening with Emma at jumprope club and Ben off with his friends, Beth and I went for a hike up and around Stratham Hill Park. While at the top, with the sun beaming down, Beth stepped ahead of me and skipped across the top of the hill. I quickly captured the moment with my iPhone, used the black and white filter on Instagram, and froze the moment in time. Truthfully, this could have been any of the kids and been special, but I can imagine a day fifteen years from now when Beth is living on her own and I come across this image and remember the 45 minutes we spent atop the hill. I’ll remember how much fun we had just walking and talking and I’ll remember how my little 10 year old girl skipped along the top, just happy to be awash on this sunlit summer day in New Hampshire.
Fifteen years from now, when Kelli and I are looking at images like these, we’ll remember that whether we were with Ben, Beth, Emma or some combination of the entire family, these were the days we did our most important work. These were the days that helped to define our family.
And THAT, is why this is my top image of 2011.
Thank you to all of you who have shared your comments and encouraged me to share my images. I wrestle with the notion that this “top 10 list” may be a bit self-indulgent, but truthfully I do this simply to share a bit of my life with each of you.
I hope you enjoyed this year’s version. If you are interested is seeing which images were “in the running” feel free to visit my flickr hashtag #best2011.
Happy New Year, my best to each of you in 2012.