My Best Photos of 2013 began with a look at 56,721 selects from this past year. I think it is safe to say that I shot a LOT of photos in the past 12 months. Out of those selects I narrowed my image selection down to 100, had my wife further refine the collection down to 50, with the final goal being 13. 13 images that would represent an entire year of assignments, commercial contracts, and travel. And then I hit a speed bump. I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t meet my goal of 13. Through struggle, deletion, careful thought and consideration I got my best photos of 2013 down to 18 then added 2 back in – hey this is my blog and I can do what I want, when I want. And how couldn’t I celebrate 2013 with more images than 13 when I have traveled to 3 continents, 4 countries, 12 states, countless National Parks (U.S. and International), Multiple UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and finally my own back yard (old and new). Yes, we even pulled off a move from Washington to Jackson, Wyoming! It has been a pretty crazy year and 2014 is shaping up to be even better. Can’t wait. So without further delay here are those images and few reasons as to why they are the BEST to me.
Tyler Hatcher and I spent an entire winter season hiking and skinning the backcountry around Mount Baker Ski Area in the Northern Cascade Mountains of Washington State. Out of 52 days on snow, I rode a chairlift one day. This was one of the first days we went out.
And one of the last days of the season had Tyler and me skiing 4 feet of blower powder. This was the second best day I have ever skied in over 30 years. The only day that beats it, is a day in the Southern Chugach in Alaska many, many years ago, when a heli dropped us into 6 feet of blower powder for fifteen consecutive runs.
Cerro Torre in Los Glaciares National Park near El Chalten, Argentina. The Patagonia region of South America has stolen my soul. I am so in love with this region of the world right now, I will stop at nothing to head back. Truly some of the most unique mountains I have ever had the privilege to explore.
An austral pygmy owl. My first. So tiny and so cool. They will literally just sit on the branch and stare. Just another reason that Patagonia is such a special place. This little guy was in Torres del Paine National Park where I am taking a very small group of clients this coming spring. Again, have to go back at all costs.
Sony contracted me to walk around Seattle for one day to create a unique series of images that they could display in their downtown store. I brought the whole family and we discovered places that were beyond cool.
What do you do if you have a certified yoga instructor in a workshop? When she is done taking photographs, you have her pose on a rock for the rest of the class.
My wife and I received a bunch of mountain bike sponsorships for an article that we were contracted to produce for DirtRag Magazine. This is what my workbench looked like during the multiple bike builds before our trip.
It was mere moments after I took this photo, just prior to a workshop I was about to conduct in the Tetons, that my wife called and told me she was hired by the Teton Valley School District. Life altering.
Shortly thereafter, I went to Alaska – to say ‘hi’ to some old friends.
Then my wife joined me to photograph the article that DirtRag hired us to complete. It will be on sale in January of 2014. This is the best single track ride I have ever ridden. The Lost Lake Trail out of Seward, Alaska. We rode it on our 15th Wedding Anniversary, almost 15 years to the day that we rode it the first time.
Then I headed to Astoria, Oregon to lead a workshop with my dear friend Art Wolfe. We focused our group on the abstract. Nothing like finding birds in flight within the rust of of a trolly car.
Next up was Iceland with Gavriel Jecan. In a downtown Reykjavik Square I discovered courtyard covered with graffiti. About the same time, some young kids ran through trying to break into every nook and cranny. Kind of a reflection on my past, and present.
I loved the softness and coarseness of the volcanic countryside in Iceland. So unbelievable. Can’t wait to head back and mountain bike here very soon – hint.
Not to mention the ice formations in the lagoons at sunset.
And finally after not seeing my family for 6 weeks, I got to meet up with them in Jackson, Wyoming. I also received a project from Bike Magazine. You will find out more about that later in 2014. As I progressed through the project, I wanted something different. So I strapped my Canon 1DX to the chest of multi-sport athlete and friend Andrew Whiteford and had him launch a thirty foot drop on the single track off of Teton Pass at sunrise. The goal was to get the star burst just under his elbow. It only took a half a dozen attempts to get it just right. You can see the cliff he is leaving at his left foot and the landing ahead of his front tire. Did I mention how much of a badass he is? Yes, the camera is fine.
Then I received a very secretive phone call and a contract that was almost as secretive. For a guy who I can’t tell you about. For some products that don’t exist. Of people who you will only know if you lose your life. On a mission for something we really can’t talk about here. Just know that it was also VERY badass.
Autumn came and we headed to Colorado and were hit with the first snow of the season. During peak fall color, I couldn’t have timed it better if I tried. Wait, I think I did?
I brought my group up to Independence Pass (12,096′ above sea level) for sunset one evening. It was bone chilling cold, but we discovered some of the best light of the trip.
I finished out my 2013 workshop schedule in Joshua Tree. We marketed the trip as an escape from winter. Only mother nature had some very different plans. The forecast read upper sixties the morning I left. The day the workshop began the temps dropped to 17F. In Joshua Tree? We froze, but we discovered that Chollas look just like a coral forest in the right light as the sun dips below the horizon. Where’s Nemo?
And now I am back where I started. In the heart of winter. Getting ready to create my best photos of 2014. Only in my new home of the Tetons. Skiing and shooting every day that I can, while fulling yet more contracts, that will have this office looking towards an even more exciting 2014. Here Andrew Whiteford and Natalie Segal climb up the cliff on our route to ski a meager 1 inch of snow near Cody Peak in the Teton Backcountry. Just before the storm of the year dropped 31 inches on Christmas Eve. Didn’t I already tell you Andrew was a badass? Well, so is Nat.
I have had one of the most successful years in a brief 10 year career that I could have ever imagined as a full-time adventure photo journalist. My catalog of photos in Lightroom blew through the 200,000 image mark this year with the force of top-fuel dragster. It wasn’t easy. Downright stressful on many occasions. As I reflect on this portfolio of images, I am grateful for every person I was able to work with, every company that contracted me, and every experience I had the privilege to be a part of. I know sweetie – don’t ever end a sentence with a preposition – dummy. I can’t wait for 2014. I can’t wait to meet more people, in more workshops, at more photo shoots, in more locations, around our world. And let’s not forget the time I will spend with those who have been there before – the old friends. The ones who ride really fast, drink really good tequila, and make me laugh till I feel like I am going to puke. The adventure has already begun. Join us next year with 30% off of select 2014 workshops right now. And a small (or large) New Year’s Toast to all of you! May you live down every one of your dreams, now and into the distant future.