Looking back at 2013

2013 was a fascinating year for me, on balance one of the best years I’ve survived in the last decade. It was also a year of transitions.

My photography has been in transition. In 2013 I shifted my wide angle work from Canon to Fuji, and so far, I really love the result. Beyond that, though, my work in general has been shifting from trying to take good and interesting images to trying to take good and interesting images that help to tell a story or share something with the viewer. Conceptually a simple change, in reality, the devil is in the details — and a lot of it boiled down to “I’ll know what it is when I find it”. A lot of my time and energy in the last year or so has gone into figuring out what it is. I’m still not sure I know — but I know where to explore and experiment. That’s enough of a direction for now, and we’ll see where it takes me in 2014.

The blog got a complete redesign, a major upgrade to the underlying guts, a new hosting server with more power and a growth path when I need it and a major edit, taking it from > 2000 articles to < 1000 as I removed obsolete and crappy content and tried to focus it on better material that lives longer than three or four days before disappearing into the archive never to be seen again. Out of that work popped my new For Your Consideration site (update: since retired and merged back into this site), which I launched quietly in December and which I will be nurturing and working to grow in 2014. You’ll hear more about that soon (hint: don’t try to make noise around Christmas, nobody’s listening).

I added fewer new photographs to my collection in 2013 than in the previous two years, but the ones I did were of higher quality, I believe. I had about 20% fewer shooting days, but the days I did go shooting were more product in terms of usable images.  I spent some time studying high end printing in February, and that was a great investment: it’s a lot easier to make an image look good online than on paper, and the act of making an image stand out printed makes it even better when looked at on a screen. You can hide many image flaws on the relatively low-res online images; you can’t putting it on paper. I continue to believe that printing images should be a final step in preparing your best images to be as good as they can be. If you can’t make them things you proudly put on your wall, they aren’t very good images.

One place I’ve put a fair amount of time and effort this year is Google+. When they released the capability to build communities, I founded the Bird Photography group. It has grown beyond 5,500 members and continues to grow and it’s generating a lot of really high quality imagery from some amazingly talented photographers around the world. Along with that I managed the Bird Photography Today page, which can best be described as the TL;DR version of the Bird Photography group. Both of them have a lot of potential and myself and the other moderators have been talking about how to manage the growth and keep it an interesting and useful environment for both experienced and newer bird photographers. If this is of interest to you, I encourage you to stop by and get involved, because I think 2014 is going to have some interesting new things added to the community.

I entered 2013 searching for some answers, a direction to take, and some projects to make. I leave 2013 with the foundations in place, the projects started, and a vision for where I want to take my writing, my photography and my life. That sounds to me like a pretty good year overall… So we’ll see you in 2014 and we’ll see how it comes together, together.