2020 Ten Favorites

I never get around to sharing my top ten favorite photos for the year. This time I got on it early. I don’t think anybody is going to look back on 2020 fondly but pandemic, disasters, and conspiracy theory whackadoodles aside, this may have been one of my most creative years. Here are my favorite photographs of the year in somewhat chronological order.

Santa Cruz Surfing Museum Sunset – Landscape

The sun sets framing the Santa Cruz Surfing Museum

This photograph of the sun setting behind the Santa Cruz Surfing Museum is a favorite for a couple of reasons. I love the iconic Big Sun Setting Behind Something look because it reminds me of Endless Summer. The other reason is that I shot this a couple weeks before COVID-19 showed up in California. This was my last COVID-free image of the year.

Isabella’s Graduation – Portrait

Graduation

I was hired for a special portrait session for Isabella, a recent college graduate. It was early August and the pandemic meant that our shoot was going to be at her parents’ home rather than at Syracuse, New York. I did a considerable amount of planning to create a special session just for her. To capture the height of the trees I lay down on the ground and used a wide angle lens. I had been working with some new radio triggers that allowed me to adjust my strobes from remote so we could keep a safe distance.

Amber – Portrait

Amber

Funny thing, this year most of my favorite photographs are portraits. Amber is an entrepreneur, dating coach, portrait and event photographer from New York. She had recently moved to the Santa Cruz Mountains and we got to be friends.

Wildfire – Landscape / Photojournalism

Burned Tree – CZU Lightning Complex Fire

Things got bad in the middle of August. A dry lightning storm rolled through the Santa Cruz Mountains and ignited a series of fires in Bonny Doon. Those fires merged into a monster. Hundreds of homes were destroyed and thousands of us had to evacuate for weeks. I photographed the area around Big Basin Redwoods State Park with a guide and a local reporter shortly after the evacuation orders were lifted.

Air Attack – Photojournalism

A CalFire helicopter drops water on a spot fire.

Fires were still popping up for weeks after the main fires of the CZU Lightning Complex wildfires were under control. Just before evacuation orders were lifted I captured a series of CalFire helicopters dropping water on a spot fire across the valley. I wrote about the fire experience on PhotoFocus.

Alexis – Portrait

My favorite portrait of Alexis in 2020

Life settled down a little and things were almost routine again by October. Alexis and I coordinated a fun shoot at a spot I had been scouting much earlier. I used a combination of ambient light and strobes to get this portrait how I had in mind.

Capitola By The Sea – Landscape

Capitola Village and Soquel Creek Long Exposure

I’ve photographed this scene before. This time I had some new ideas for composing and processing the image. I saw this set of clouds rolling in and knew what I wanted to capture and how to do it.

Rohanna – Portrait

Rohanna in Red

Rohanna is a dear friend and a favorite local model. This area was untouched by the wildfires so I scouted for portrait settings. Rohanna brought this stunning outfit and some of my earlier ideas sprung to life.

Davenport – Landscape

Davenport Beach Long Exposure

The sun had set to my right, the tide was rising, and a mist was forming. I waited for the waves to rush up against me for this image. Yeah, I wrecked a perfectly good pair of shoes for this but I’m delighted with the results.

Danielle – Portrait

Danielle and Fall Colors Bokeh

I can’t pass up an opportunity to photograph Danielle Crook. Actor, musician, singer and glorious personality.

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