It’s hard to believe 2021 is quickly coming to a close and we’ve been living with the pandemic for nearly two years. For some reason I didn’t do an end of the year “Best Of” post in 2020. I’m not really sure why I didn’t do one last year because as I look back through my work from 2020 there are a good number of images that I’m really really happy with, and I was surprisingly productive given how limited travel was before the vaccines were introduced this year. As I reflect on the past two years of pandemic life, aside from the health of my family and friends there is one thing that continues to rise to the top of things I’m truly grateful for; and that’s living where I do in Vermont.
I am so grateful to live in such a beautiful place and have such quick access to so many wild and open spaces near my home. If anything, the past two years or pandemic life has only heightened my appreciation for Vermont. A long time ago I made a conscious decision to live somewhere that I love, with access to all the recreation that I enjoy without having to travel great distances to “play” on the weekends. That to me was more important than following a job or career opportunity wherever it led, likely a metropolitan area far from wild spaces. The plan was, live somewhere awesome and then figure out how to make a living once there. I spent the first 8 years or so here in Vermont teaching middle school science and the last 15 years I have been pursuing my photography professionally. Every year has been a little different and there is some degree of uncertainty all the time, but so far it’s worked out pretty well.
Over the years as a professional photographer and workshop leader I’ve been fortunate to travel to a lot of truly epic destinations for landscape photography, and hope to add many more exotic locales in the future. In the past, my end of the year “best of” post inevitably included many images from these far flung places but usually only a small number of images made in my home state of Vermont. It’s not that I didn’t shoot a lot of images I was fond of in Vermont during those years, but for whatever reason the more “epic” locations seemed to always take center stage. Perhaps I was biased toward those images because I thought they would garner more attention online and would serve to elevate my career as a landscape photographer.
This year I decided to switch things up and share only images that I made here in Vermont as part of my “Best Of 2021” year in review. In fact, I chose to only include images that were shot within a 30 mile radius of my home. Almost all of these images were made in locations that I have been visiting regularly during my almost 23 years of living in Vermont. In fact, more than a few of them were made within a few miles of my home. And one of the images was actually made while standing in the driveway flying a drone over my property while cooking chicken on the grill. I have long extolled the virtues of photographing close to home. For me personally, I seem to make my best and most personally satisfying images when I am intimately familiar with and connected to a place. I love the fact that I can jump in the car or on my bike and visit some of these incredible landscapes at the drop of a hat; no prior planning or scheduling required. And because I’m intimately familiar with the locations I cater my shooting to spots that hold the most possibility given the prevailing conditions. A few of the images here were made during trips to and from town while running errands or dropping a daughter off at dance class or cross country practice.
Aside from capturing an intimate sense of place there are a few things that continue to influence my work, particularly the work I make here at home. First, I continue to be drawn to the ephemeral; moments when the light kisses the tips of trees or bathes the landscape in a warm glow, or after a summer rain that replenishes the streams and waterfalls, or when the first leaves emerge in spring and the last leaves drop in the fall, or the atmosphere created by a departing storm. Second, I try to avoid photographing iconic or often photographed subjects and places. And when I do find myself in a popular location I try to find a new way to see and compose a photograph. Lastly, the intimate landscape continues to capture my attention and is the source of great inspiration and creativity. So without any further ado and in no particular order, here are my favorite 20 images taken within 30 miles of my home in 2021. As always, thank you for taking a peek and feel free to leave a comment below with your favorites. Here’s wishing you all a safe, healthy and rewarding 2022!!!