Reflecting and Favorites of 2020

January 2, 2021

It's that time, where I gather some thoughts and favorite photos from this past year. To say this has been the most challenging year for David and I, friends, colleagues, and the rest of the world would be the understatement of the year. Our full-time traveling and teaching workshops were put on hold, and we spent most of the year at home in Golden, the most time spent stationary in four years of living on the road full-time. While we wrestled and adapted to this new reality, we did manage some chances to escape into Nature to hike and photograph for some much-needed therapy.

Warm light, steam, and blue thermal pools create a peaceful moment on the upper terraces of Mammoth Hot Springs.

Serene

Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming | 2020

Warm light, steam, and blue thermal pools create a peaceful moment on the upper terraces of Mammoth Hot Springs.

The beginning of the year found us teaching our workshops in Death Valley, blissfully unaware of the impending pandemic. When the pandemic came crashing down, we rushed home to Colorado from California and spent the next few months home, evolving into a new normal. During June, we ventured out to Yellowstone to continue working on an ongoing project (to be released next year!). We remained in Golden until September, when we were fortunate and excited to teach with Out of Chicago at Out of Moab in September, with a small group of fantastic photographers, with COVID precautions in place. That event was one of the year's highlights, as it felt human again to interact outside (safely) with colleagues and participants.

Newly formed salt crystals showcase warm and cool tones during sunset.

Crystallize

Death Valley National Park, California | 2020

Newly formed salt crystals showcase warm and cool tones during sunset.

A late autumn snow covers the landscape near Norris Geyser Basin, as the sun breaks through the steam.

Wintry

Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming | 2020

A late autumn snow covers the landscape near Norris Geyser Basin, as the sun breaks through the steam.

The rest of the year presented us with challenges and personal grief, and we again escaped to Yellowstone following the unexpected death of David's mother. We traveled back from Wyoming to Golden and have remained at home since.

Strange and curious formations rise out of a thermal pool in Yellowstone National Park.

Enigmatic

Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming | 2020

Strange and curious formations rise out of a thermal pool in Yellowstone National Park.

Dunes take on a blue hue after sunset during a windstorm.

Ambience

Death Valley National Park, California | 2020

Dunes take on a blue hue after sunset during a windstorm.

The mental struggle as a result of the pandemic this year has been real. Moments of depression, tears, questioning my abilities, and the fear of not making it as a full-time photographer plagued my confidence. I'm completely transparent about this because I know I'm not alone, and the focus is always on how "glamorous" this career is, without bringing the real challenges to light. Being self-employed is not for the faint of heart, especially during this pandemic. I experienced moments where I wanted to give up and escape back to my past career's stability and familiarity. Stability looked pretty tempting this year, especially after losing most of our income from not being able to teach workshops. However, thanks to others' words of wisdom, encouragement, and cultivating my motivation, I began my ascent out of the dark mental hole, focused on the positive thoughts, and poured my energy into projects.

The terraces around Grand Prismatic Spring reflect the night sky, while a meteor passes through the milky way.

Terraced Starlight

Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming | 2020

The terraces around Grand Prismatic Spring reflect the night sky, while a meteor passes through the milky way.

Trees catching the last sunlight of the day cast reflected light onto a set of small rapids in Yellowstone National Park. This...

Highlights

Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming | 2020

Trees catching the last sunlight of the day cast reflected light onto a set of small rapids in Yellowstone National Park. This was photographed with a slower shutter speed to catch the movement and texture of the water.

Fractures and patterns cut across the hydrothermally altered rhyolite walls of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone.

Scars

Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming | 2020

Fractures and patterns cut across the hydrothermally altered rhyolite walls of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone.

Despite the challenges, there have been many silver linings, and this is the year I have appreciated the most personal growth. We have been able to explore areas closer to home, take the time to cultivate personal projects, and assemble ebooks that we'll be releasing next year. I have been working feverishly on my brand new website, which will be released in the first week of January. We wouldn't have been able to work on these endeavors from the road, so we welcomed the unexpected downtime. It allowed us to collaborate with fellow friends and colleagues to navigate this challenging time together, and it opened up new opportunities for the future. Above all, I'm thankful for my family, friends, colleagues, and health this year. I have a new appreciation for the smaller gifts life provides, and we'll all get through this, for there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

Colors from a vibrant sunset sky reflect into the pools and terraces of Great Fountain Geyser in Yellowstone National Park.

Grand Finale

Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming | 2020

Colors from a vibrant sunset sky reflect into the pools and terraces of Great Fountain Geyser in Yellowstone National Park.

Water creates a holographic effect as it interacts with the light on the disturbed surface of a hot spring pool in Yellowstone...

Holographic

Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming | 2020

Water creates a holographic effect as it interacts with the light on the disturbed surface of a hot spring pool in Yellowstone National Park.

Violet-green swallows fly in and out of a rainbow created by a waterfall.

Serendipity

Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming | 2020

Violet-green swallows fly in and out of a rainbow created by a waterfall.

The morning sun spotlights the Lower Falls as clouds and fog clear.

Resolute

Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming | 2020

The morning sun spotlights the Lower Falls as clouds and fog clear.

Tiny salt crystals are encased in circular salt formations.

Salt Cells

Death Valley National Park, California | 2020

Tiny salt crystals are encased in circular salt formations.

My favorite photos this year are from Death Valley and Yellowstone, the only places I spent a lot of time this year. Those two places are my two favorite parks to photograph and where I hold the most personal connections. My favorites are not based on what was most popular or necessarily my best work, but rather the images are curated from notable moments while out interacting with Nature. I don't choose them based on what social media tells me was popular; instead, I photograph what interests me and places and subjects that I'm passionate about, instead of what "sells." I've chosen a diverse range of imagery in this collection, from grand landscapes to small scenes and abstracts. Sending love to all of you, and thanks for all the support, inspiration to keep going, and kind words this year. I wish everyone a healthy, happy, and fruitful New Year!

Layers and ridges in the badlands glow under the last light of the day.

Radiance

Death Valley National Park, California | 2020

Layers and ridges in the badlands glow under the last light of the day.

Salt creates patterns on the desert floor as seen from Dante's View in Death Valley National Park.

Artistry

Death Valley National Park, California | 2020

Salt creates patterns on the desert floor as seen from Dante's View in Death Valley National Park.