Goodbye, 2012! A look back on my best work from the year.

2012 has been a year of big changes for me in all aspects of my life. The first third of the year was devoted to big life events, like marriage and moving and celebrating not just my wedding but my best friend's.  I went to my hometown in St. Louis a lot and rested from work. 

The next third of the year was a rebirth of my business.  I quit my previous work with Cana Collective and decided to go solo, focusing solely on weddings and personal projects.  This decision preceded the Santa Fe Workshops with Chris Buck- which truly was a rebirth.  I shed a lot of tears at thisportrait & lighting workshop, and even some clothes. I put aside some of my photojournalistic habits and experimented with conceptual art photography.  Chris pushed me beyond my comfort zone, encouraging me to put more of my own self and psychology into my work--which meant facing some demons. My final project was designed by Chris to help me identify and face my fears related to photography in a studio-lit self portrait. This was the hardest assignment I have ever done--and also the most fulfilling.  These photos have become and Ebenezer of sorts for me.  Something inside me really changed with the final open and close of the shutter.

That workshop really set the stage for the last third of the year and the attitude I would have towards my work. One of the first big changes I made was to consciously surround myself with other creative photographers and artists.  One of the best things about Santa Fe was collaborating with other photographers and playing off of one another's strengths.  So I started shooting more with UNC photo kids and really investing in developing a mentorship program for young photographers. My first intern ever, Maria Van Aalst, "graduated" from our little Durham home at the close of summer, but I continue to shoot with her.  When the leaves finally fell and I continued to miss Maria's presence, I decided to start a new high school internship program for the talented Layson Peters.  I also set out on a new top-secret endeavor with a brilliant photographer, but since it's top-secret right now you won't hear about it until the start of 2013!  All of this collaboration has really infused me with the energy I need to bring something "fresh" to my work.

The main change that the workshop instilled in me, however, was to really focus on making pictures where my voice comes through, rather than a focus on technical elements.  I am still proud of my photos that have pretty light and beautiful compositions, but I'm trying to use those elements to really say something about how I see the world. Focusing more on portraiture has been a catalyst for achieving this.  I've cut out a lot of video and multimedia work from my life this year, and it's freed me up really push the limits of my camera and vision.

The following photos are some of my favorite portraits from 2012 where my voice comes through a bit stronger than in previous years.