Twenty-twenty might not be a year to look back on, especially for those whose lives suffered in the wake of economic setbacks, storms of fire or weather, and the unknowns and uncertainties of the insidious and unrelenting Covid pandemic. Communities, families, and friends suffered as misinformed and misguided (or worse) politics cut and infected deep wounds that may be more difficult to heal than the lingering effects of a virus. Still, hopeful moments rose above the noise as social injustices glared under focal spotlights and many sought connections with the natural world – these disparate things having in common entrapment, by history, by half-news, by the malnourishment of social feed, and, too often, by mandate. Would our masks help us see or simply add to our blindness?
I pursued my occasional photography in this turbid year with this conflict often in mind. My time in the landscape, whether as a scientist, chronicler, or photographer, provides escape, enlightenment, and rejuvenation. I remain hopeful and moving forward, letting the complex elements of light, space, and climate speak for themselves, sometimes to me, sometimes at me, and many times beyond me.
Choosing Twelve for 2020 goes beyond self-reflection, however. Or, at least, it can be reflection of a different sort. “Best of…” reviews are common, and many photographers compile year-end collections to create calendars and highlight portfolio imagery. Hearing a suggestion on a podcast that selecting your best images from the year can be a good way to critically review one’s growth or direction as a photographer, I decided to heed the advice. The podcast host suggested ten images, I picked twelve as a calendar exercise (though roughly chronological, they aren’t month-by-month). The self-critique comes from culling favorites down to a relatively small collection. It takes some thought and analysis of subjective data points to get down to twelve; the last few cuts are especially difficult and provocative. Internal arguments abound. It is, however, rather fun and I think I learned something (see above).
You’ll find below twelve images from the landscape of western Nevada and eastern California, the area I am fortunate to call my home. Thank you for spending some time with TrailOption this year, and I know we can look forward to more.
I hope you have enjoyed the 2020 collection. I would, of course, be happy with the validation of you ‘liking’ the same ones from my varied galleries, but, in the end, these are about my year and, honestly, about me. I see quite a lot about my worries and conflicts in 2020, but I also see the beauty that as yet remains hidden in the landscape of 2021.