2020 has really been something. A dumpster fire of moments worth forgetting is the first description that comes to mind. And as we’re counting down the days until 2021 and a year that will hopefully see some semblance of old norms by late summer, I decided to find and appreciate the good things that happened this year. 2020 has been terrible and stressful and painful in numerous ways, but it’s been pretty incredible too. I didn’t realize how good until I started the annual exercise of reviewing my numbers and budgeting for next year (yes, I’m one of those nerds). Here are some of my top moments of 2020, both photographically and personally.
My Top 2020 Moments
1. A Creative Portrait Shoot Each Month
I felt uninspired last year with the work I was producing and decided to reinvigorate myself and my images. The solution? Each month, I would generate a random concept and photograph it. These concepts had to be challenging, complicated, and hopefully contain an element of photography I’ve never done before. Here’s what I did this year!
Editorial Trail Runner
Pandemic vs. Normal Office Self-Portrait
9 Sides of Mike Self Portraits
Food / Product Photography
This overall challenge was tough but incredibly fun. You’ll notice a lot of self-portraits in there! That was a result of being in lockdown for two months from the Pandemic. I’m looking forward to doing this again next year and hopefully every year after that. It’s been so rewarding, and I love pushing myself to be a better photographer.
2. My Photography Business Grew in 2020
Shocker! Running my numbers blew me away. I did better this year, pandemic and lockdown included than in 2019. I worked with the same number of clients, but some business changes have made huge dividends. Major shoutouts/credit to the following for helping me get better:
- Krista Walsh – Copywriter
- Fuel Your Photos – SEO & Blogging Courses / Facebook Group
- Andrew Helmich & the PhotoBizX Podcast / Facebook Group
- CreativeLive – an endless resource for learning
- Amazing Creative Peers – We bounce ideas off each other and hold each other accountable.
- Friends & Family – the people behind the scenes who helped when I was low, struggling, or overwhelmed.
- Way too many podcasts and books
3. I went to Yellowstone National Park on Photo Assignment
Out of the blue, my Uncle called me and asked if I’d like to be his photo assistant for a 10 day trip to Yellowstone National Park. Our assignment? Capture images and videos of wolves and of my Uncle doing his thing. The content would be used as media pieces for a major technology showcase. Needless to say, I went and had an incredible trip. It was cold; we got to -6 ºF a couple of times. We did 16 hour days, often waking up at 5 AM, and traveled over 1,000 miles over the course of the trip. It was touch and go, but we eventually got the wolf shots on the very last day. What. A. Trip. Below are some of my favorite images. And you can view these images and other travel photos at my print shop.
4. I Turned 30
I’m annoyed that I will spend this entire milestone year in a pandemic, but I’m incredibly grateful for what I have accomplished at this point in my life. I don’t fit the Millennial stereotype, and I can only blame my family and friends for that. The best thing about it all is that I feel good about today and future moments. I’m thrilled to have two jobs I love, a great support system, and the ability/means to do damn near anything I want.
5. New Adventures in Engineering
I technically got a new engineering job this year. In reality, my team took our ASD diagnostic device out of one large company and made our own company with it. There’s a lot more pressure, a lot more risk, and significantly more work, but I’m ecstatic about the transition. We’ve got more autonomy, can do things the right way, and can move much faster to bring this incredible device to clinical offices. We aim to diagnose autism way earlier than is currently standard (we’re targeting 16 to 30-month-old kids vs. the earliest average, which is four years old). It’s work worth doing.
6. A Ton of Personal Growth
In an attempt to minimize sappiness, I’m going to keep this one super short. I got my ass kicked on the emotional front this year. There were crazy highs and major lows, with some relationships growing closer and others growing apart. I’ve taken up journaling, started going to therapy, and recently started focusing on skills and characteristics that I’ve neglected or suppressed for years. I have one simple rule for myself: be a good person. I’m eager to commit myself to that standard in new ways going forward.
I’m as grateful for 2020 as I am ready to get past it. I’ve been fortunate that no family members or loved ones suffered from COVID-19 (I had it in June), and I hope you’ve made it out with your health and sanity reasonably intact as well. Here’s hoping 2021 is better than this year, that we can all grow, be grateful, and enjoy some relaxing moments with loved ones mask free!