A decade of photographs
Posted on 30th December, 2019
A few of us have been posting our four favourite images from 2019 - as is often the way as each year draws to an end. I posted mine on social media a few days before Christmas. I then saw a tweet from the Togcast guys saying what about best of the decade? That sounded a challenge too far at the time - but then I noticed a couple of days ago that another photographer, Russ Barnes, had chosen one image from each of the last 10 years. I thought it woud be a fun and interesting exercise to attempt the same. I've tried to choose images that I think are amongst the best, if not 'the' best, from each year but have also taken into account my own personal preferences - it's very hard not to of course. I'm quite sure if I asked A N other photographer to choose my 10 for me, most years would be different - perhaps not all though.
There's nothing like damning your own work with faint praise but, when I look back at my landscapes from 2010, there are plenty of perfectly good images but none of them really spoke to me. At that time, I also did a bit of wildlife photography and for me, it's a series of blurry gannet images that seemed best to fit the bill. It was a few years before I did anything with these but they became firm favourites.
My classic landscapes of 2011 are definitely a step in the right direction and this one, from a beautifully moody summer's evening in Saltwick Bay, has stood the test of time. I still really enjoy it, though I have toned down the colours just a little from its original edit - I could probably go further.
There were one or two more intimate landscapes from Yorkshire that almost made the cut for 2012 - definitely a conscious effort to change my photographic approach. However, with the end of that year involving a visit to the endlessly photogenic Namibia, it was hard to ignore some of my favourites from that holiday. I don't think this image would be the one many would choose - however, I'm conscious of the many compositional conundrums thrown up by this wonderful tree with its snaking root, so it just won the battle.
For 2013 I was very tempted to opt for one of my images of trees - it was the first year I started to get my head round photographing the chaotic woodlands of the north. However, there was no clear woodland winner and I felt I had one or two stronger images from a wonderful holiday in Ladakh. I've gone with this one - Mountain Layers, Lamayuru.
2014 was a reasonably simple choice - I still feel Reservoir Bogs is right up there with my best images over the years and it says much about the direction I was going in by this time. Much to my surprise, given my past record, it was highly commended in Landscape Photographer of the Year. I actually think it is a better image than Zigzag, with which I was fortunate enough to win a category the following year. As ever, these things are hugely subjective.
Quite a few ocntenders for 2015, with Zigzag, Beech veil and Abisko arctic birches being close runners up. It wasn't too hard a choice to go with this beautifully chaotic woodland just up the road from where I live. This image says so much about the character of these woods, the onset of spring and it's also one that has sold well as a print, despite not being a known location.
2016 was probably my easiest pick - this precariously perched birch on the edge of Guisecliff is, for me, one of my best ever images and it encapsulates so much of what I love about an area that is one of my very favourite places to photograph. Broken birch from Hodge Close Quarry was a very close second.
2017 was a crazy year - if I'd forgotten, my Lightroom catalogue does a great job of reminding me! Amongst the highlights were six workshops in Iceland, a week skiing the King's Trail in Arctic Sweden, and a couple of weeks or so holiday in South Korea. I initially chose an image from South Korea but, in the end, the lure of Nordic landscapes won me over. This was from the end of our hut to hut trip in Sweden. It's the sort of image I love to try to make now - what I think of a wide angle intimate landscape with added context.
A couple of minimalist seascapes from Northern Spain were very close to being my choice for 2018 but, in the end, I decided upon this quiet landscape from one of the busiest areas in Iceland. This to me is what Iceland is all about and I'm very grateful to the team at Wild Photography Holidays for the knowledge they gave me about such a special country.
And finally 2019. Unsurprisingly, I've chosen one of the four I posted before Christmas. My Sithonian seascape came a very close second, but my local woods made me pick them again! It's been a really interesting experience looking back through the catalogue. Necesarily it was a bit rushed, but enough time to think about how things have moved on, how far I've moved on and how far I still have to go! Above all, though, it makes me think how incredily lucky I've been to have had all these opportunities over the past decade. Here's to the next one - lets hope we can find ways to make our photography help our planet at a time when it needs help like never before.