We danced in the seconds prior to 2011′s definitive stroke of midnight. One second later, we danced to celebrate life in a new year.
My goofy jig, spinning in the falling confetti, was not just a celebration of life but more a goofy jig celebrating my renewed drive to usher in the opportunity to hit reboot and relaunch the career I moved to Colorado, four years ago, to pursue.
Below you’ll find a slideshow of my best and favorite photographs from a long year displayed. All were taken while on assignment for The Wall Street Journal, The Los Angeles Times, Getty Images, The Denver Post and REVERB, pursuing personal projects, backpacking in Olympic National Park or simple snapshots of loved ones.
On top of shooting, trying to maintain sanity and calm I wrote a few essays touching on business practices for photographers (creative folks). I use the term ‘essay’ loosely and lump pretty much anything without a specific category into ‘essay’.
Also, I revisited Hurricane Katrina on the storm’s 5th anniversary in a four part blog series. What is posted are my original words and photos gathered – what seems like a thousand years ago – as a young(er) staff photographer with The Hickory Daily Record.
Below the asterisks is a paragraph that turned into two, then more. Finally, at around 3AM this morning, the post morphed into a somewhat self deprecating look at that bastard of a year, 2010.
My Best of 2010:
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On most days, the droning of a space heater mixing with the slow creep of early morning light makes my office the perfect space to sip coffee and daydream.
Today my mind is racing, jolted by the possibilities that lie ahead for 2011.
Last year kicked a lot of us around as newspapers and magazines cut freelancer budgets and thousands were laid off as the economy struggled to right himself on alarmingly unsteady legs.
The news is not all gloomy, many photographers have made celebrated transitions to industry luminary status through hard work and pinpoint strategy. Although with that said, no pep talk or rosy 2011 predictions can gloss over the above mentioned fact that so many more were simply forced to give up on their dreams and careers.
While many photographers unwillingly added ‘former’ to the title, others were fortunate enough to be presented the opportunity to trudge headlong into a shaky economy as a freelancer. If it can be accomplished, the smartly stubborn business owner will find a way.
I’ve been asked by friends and family, ‘why do you still want to work as a photographer after such a brutal year?’
I had some time to think about that question between an unexpected busy work load this December and I came up with a short list. It reads:
Why I Still Want To Work As A Photographer After Such A Brutal Year.
#1 – As long as I’m able, I’d rather be kicked around as a photographer as be kicked around doing anything else in the world.
It seems unreal that I’ve been freelancing for four years while making the same mistakes over and over again, slowly fulfilling the basic definition of insanity. As in, it’s insane to pursue the same negative and non-productive business habits and believe that you’ll be successful.
I’ve held onto a good chunk of my sanity by being surrounded by a supportive inner circle of loved ones and friends who believed in me and pushed me, no forced me, to think like a businessman first and a creative professional second.
Saying photography is not about money is partially correct but if your business is photography then you must also think like the successful CEO you’re hopefully photographing later this afternoon. Being a good businessman takes creativity, it doesn’t make you any less of a creative.
Insert inspirational quote:
You build on failure. You use it as a stepping stone. – Johnny Cash
The man in black made a lifetime of mistakes and has the songs and the scars to prove it. Let’s all take his advice to heart this year because if I’m anything like you I’ve never written a song nor shot a man in Reno. Photography is all I’ve got.
Sanctimonious remarks aside, making a living as a photographer has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life and I’m thankful for even just one more year.
Yes 2010, even you. Thanks for showing me what doesn’t work. I hope we never meet again.
My mantra for the new year: Dwell in the possibility.
In 2011 we will send a round of whiskey and three cheers to the prime lens, shooting weddings for people you didn’t go to college with, eating less bacon, eating more bacon, learning to dance and celebrating life.
Good luck everyone!
Nathan W. Armes
Denver Photographer and Photojournalist