It’s that time of year again, time to look back at over the past 12 months. The year 2022 offered me some wonderful opportunities to share my work. In addition, we had the opportunity to travel abroad, in the course of which I was reminded of a valuable lesson. Here are some thoughts on the past year and several of my favorite photos taken in the last 12 months.
SHOWING MY WORK
The Glen Arbor Art Center exhibited six of my photos in its lobby gallery at the start of the year. The show, titled Woodland Studies, was my first opportunity of its kind, for which I am extremely grateful to the Art Center and to the Art Center’s Gallery Manager, Sarah Bearup-Neal. Sarah guided me through the process of curating the exhibit and getting it ready to show. Sarah and I recorded a video conversation about the photos in the exhibit, which you can find here. The online version of the exhibit is no longer on the Art Center’s website, but you can view it here.
The Art Center provided me with two other opportunities to display my photos. The following photo was displayed as part of the annual “Members Create” exhibit in April and May. The exhibit is a non-juried show open to members of the Art Center.
The Art Center also invited me to submit photos to the “Small Works Holiday Exhibition,” where artists display small, original art work for sale for $150 or less. I displayed eight photographs, three of which were taken in 2022.
In addition to displaying work at the Glen Arbor Art Center, I entered a photo in the Ray and Nancy Loeschner Annual Art Competition at the Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park. I had not heard of the competition before September of this year, but the timing was fortuitous. Some dear friends of mine married at the end of August. Their registry included an 11×14 frame, which we purchased and gave to them along with a note offering to fill the frame with one of my photos. They chose a photo I had taken of Aria, a wonderful sculpture by Alexander Liberman, which was acquired by the Gardens in 1999. The more I worked with the photo to make a beautiful print, the more I came to love it. I was excited to have the opportunity to enter it in the competition and was gratified to learn recently that is has been selected as a finalist. The final judging will occur in January 2023.
My wife and I traveled to Jerusalem and Paris in early June. Of course, I took my camera and I took plenty of snapshots. The snapshots will help us remember the experience, but the photography was not the focus of the trip. I do, however, want to share one photo with you. We toured Sainte-Chapelle on the Île de la Cité in Paris. Sainte-Chapelle was the royal chapel in the palace of the King of France. The chapel was consecrated in the year 1248. The upper chapel has 15 stained glass windows, each 15 meters tall, that include 1,113 scenes from the Old and New Testament. In a crowded chapel filled with tourists there was neither time nor room to take a studied photo, but I was pleased to get this photo, which will serve as a reminder of the most beautiful room I think I have ever seen.
MY FAVORITE PHOTOS OF 2022
At the end of the year, I like to look through my photos and select a group of images that are my favorite photos from the past 12 months. Here’s what I came up with for 2022.
The first photo is a close up of Honey Creek in winter time. We don’t have waterfalls or big significant rapids in southwest lower Michigan. But, by focusing close on an ice formation in the creek, a small scene becomes filled with action and drama.
I enjoy being in the forest in winter. I find the stillness, the quiet, peacefulness, and even the challenge of staying warm to be reinvigorating.
I took this next photo in the Silver Lake Sand Dunes in Mears, Michigan. The shifting sands reveal the stumps of trees, such as this one, that were swallowed up by the dunes years ago. The early morning light shining on this stump accentuated the grain in the wood and the embedded grains of sand.
Coming upon the following scene was a pleasant surprise. I was on a trail that passed through a pine forest. The pine trees were so thick and the canopy so dense that little else could grow in the area. I didn’t expect to see anything of interest to photograph along the trail. But a brief break in the clouds created patches of sunlight on the forest floor that brought depth and dimensionality to what otherwise was a monotony of tree trunks.
Michigan is not at its photogenic best in early spring, when the snow has melted and brown is the dominant color. So I bought a dozen tulips and used them as my subject everyday for a couple of weeks. When they were fresh, the tulips exuded their typical elegance. But I found that it there was beauty to be found even as the tulips wilted.
I am attracted to gaps in the forest canopy created by the death of a tree. The gaps permit the sunlight to break through to the forest floor – a patch of hope in the darkness.
We visited Acadia National Park in mid-September. Peak fall color was still a month away, but as we hiked along the Jesup Path, we came upon this scene. It is a bit chaotic, but I thought the alignment of the birch trunks and the splashes of color brought an order to the chaos and made for an appealing photo.
I have shot this scene on Bass Lake in the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore many times. (I included a photo of this point of land in my Woodland Studies exhibit.) But on this morning, I was fortunate to be able to shoot the scene in a dense fog, creating a softer, more soothing image.
A key to success in my photography is being aware. These last two photos are of things I might of missed had I not slowed down to take in my surroundings. I found this maple leaf beautifully highlighted by ice crystals when I took a walk on the morning of our first hard frost.
This was another happy find as I explored the shoreline of a local lake on a recent foggy morning.
AN IMPORTANT LESSON
I learned an important lesson while in Paris. Everywhere we went in Paris, my camera went with me. I made a lot of snapshots. When we entered the Musée de l’Orangerie, I saw a sign showing a camera with a red circle and slash through it – no photography. So I checked my camera and began viewing the museum’s wonderful collection of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist Art. In the galleries, though, I noticed so many people taking photos with cameras and cell phones. The guards did not seem concerned, so I went back to look at the sign again and read the small print: “No flash photography.” I could have retrieved my camera, but chose not to. Without a camera, I explored the galleries with my wife, comparing thoughts about the paintings. I was able to see the art not only through my eyes but also through hers, which enriched my experience immensely.
In the museum that day, I learned in important lesson: sometimes the camera can get in the way of the experience. It’s a lesson I need to remember whenever I go off on a photo shot. I think if I focus on the experience first, my photographs will improve. But even if they don’t, I will find more meaning in those experiences and be a better person for it.