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2020: Humility & Gratitude

Looking back on my last post from January 31, I'm reminded how much we lost in 2020 - precious lives, time, and opportunities. While we can't undo it, we can learn humility and gratitude from it. I hope for the light to come, but know better now how to walk in the darkness.

In terms of photography, I accomplished little in 2020. After announcing my new book release and presenting on Antarctica at the Olympia Center in February, my other speaking engagements were canceled due to pandemic lockdown. (I'll let you know if and when they're rescheduled.) I scrapped my travel plans and curtailed all photo outings. I even lost interest and inspiration for a time. Tackling at-home projects, like new skill development, cleaning out image folders, re-organizing Lightroom catalogs, or watching countless webinars, had all the appeal of a root canal without anesthetic.

I just stopped. Everything. And it was okay.

In the fall, my son-in-law, a real estate broker, asked me to photograph a few of his listings. Besides making some fast money with my camera - not something I'm unaccustomed to! - it rekindled my desire to work in the medium again. An early December trip to Trout Lake, near Mount Adams, brought me back to my landscape photography roots. A Christmas gift from my wife, a small aerial drone, opened up new creative possibilities. (And requires me to learn to fly it.) Finally, the opening today of a show of my landscapes at Batdorf & Bronson's Coffeehouse in Olympia has brought me full circle; I showed Venice in Black & White there last January.

So, now it's time to begin. Again.

Getting back to humility and gratitude. I'm humbled by the ongoing service and sacrifices made by so many this year: health care workers, vaccine developers, public health officers, medical researchers and scientists, first responders, grocery workers, supply chain and delivery drivers, reporters and journalists, election workers, postal workers, social justice and homeless advocates. During a global pandemic and economic collapse, so many ordinary people carried on despite the risks with compassion, integrity, and resolve.

They truly inspire me.

More than anything though, I'm grateful to simply be alive with the ones I love. I'm grateful that my "job" as a photographer is to bear witness to life, to help others see, understand, and care. I'm thankful I still have the physical and mental capacities to do what I love.

The lesson of 2020 is that precious lives, time and opportunities are not to be wasted. Looking ahead to 2021, may it be a happier, healthier year of renewal!

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