Your best 3 photos of the year

Hey folks,

How is life with you? I hope if you’re having holidays, they are excellent.

So it’s that time of year again. The end of the year, with next year, and the beginning of a new decade, just days away. 

It’s the time of year when us photographers can have the pleasure of choosing our best photos of the year.  

Girl on phone Hanoi Vietnam at Night

I like to reflect over the photos I’ve taken this past year because I think instead of just shooting, shooting, shooting – or doing anything incessantly – it’s great to take time to deliberate upon what I’ve done in my photography.

Look at the whole journey you’ve taken with your photos – ideally without judging it. But then reflect on all the photos you’ve taken that you are really happy with. 

I like to look at all my images and pick my favourite 3. 

Other than it being a fun exercise, it has the added bonus of letting us revisit all our efforts; the places we went and the adventures we had, our life in stories and photos. FUN!

Well, it should be fun anyway, but it is no easy task. Especially if you’re only going to pick three photos.  And that’s what I aim to do.

If you’ve been keeping up with the rating and labelling of your photos this year, then most of the work is already done.

For my personal workflow I give every photo that has been published or loved a flag.  Lightroom allows me to sort by year and by flags. 

Girl on phone Hanoi Vietnam at Night

So of course if you haven’t done this it will take longer, but a good thing to remember for next year. 

For for this year I had 272 images flagged in my Lightroom catalogue.  Once filtered it’s just a matter of choosing my favourite 3.

But as you well know know this is where the difficulty begins.  I aim to look at all my photos impartially and without emotion. 

I look for things like great light, great composition, and interesting subjects plus a nice story. I’m not trying to please anyone but myself, but I most certainly have my viewer in mind in that I want them to be strong images.  After all, this is a representation of my years of work.

Hanoi night market Vietnam

I don’t want to pick photos because of the story in my mind of how I created them, but rather because of the story that comes across to the viewer. This practice makes the photo relatable to a wider audience.

This shot came close to my top 3:

I shoot a lot of reflection photos. I find them challenging and if I’m successful, compelling. This photo was taken in Istanbul on my last workshop there. It was a very complex arrangement of glass and mirrors and I thought the colours were also intriguing.  

I don’t think I’ve quite got the processing correct yet, but this is pretty close to how I envision the image being. If you look closely you can see me in the centre orange part.  This is by far my favourite reflecting photograph of the year.

But it isn’t in my top three, quite.  

Here they are:

Photo 1:

This photograph was taken in Spain at the National Park of Cerro Gordo at 4 in the morning. It is my first astrophotography photograph!

I chose it as one of my favourite photos of the year because of the technical challenge and also because it’s a pretty good result for the first time. 

It was hard composing in that pitch black and it was a very slow process, but I enjoyed the moment so much and learnt such an incredible amount that I have now incorporated astrophotography into my workshop in Morocco. 

Here’s a short video I made about getting this shot. 

Photo 2:

This photo was taken on a full moon also in the Cerro Gordo. It was about 4 in the morning and the moon was high in the sky and the landscape was lit by its otherworldly light.  

The light is brilliant but I also like the composition: the natural framing and the thirds. But my favourite bit is the strong lines – the line of the fence and how it reaches into the sea, the horizontal line that cuts through the middle of the frame and gives it a moment of calmness and serenity. 

It was a serendipitous moment, the conditions could not have been better. This is one that I will print large and put on my wall and proudly call my own.

Photo 3:

Sunrise over Du Gia Vietnam

I would like to think I’m being impartial and using this photo above but it’s a pretty recent shot and usually I like to give myself more time to let my photos ‘settle’. This gives me time to lose the emotional attachment I have with my photos, and see them more objectively. 

But I still love this photo.

I was shooting in Vietnam in the mountains. I suppose it’s just the brilliant light and the thickness of the atmosphere that makes it so engaging to me and which gives it real depth.

I love the composition too, *but* I wish I had stepped back another 10 inches, as that would have allowed me to get more of the corona from the sun and complete the reflection at the bottom of the frame. 

I’m really surprised that a split tone image made it into my top 3. It’s not something I do a lot.

Now Di and I would love to know what are your top three images of the year?

Where are you going to post them and who are you going to show?

We would love to see your top three (and only 3 please! You have to be ruthless!) Post them on our photo sharing group Light Monkeys on Facebook, or if you don’t use Facebook email them to me and I’ll let you know what I think. 

And lastly – now I am cheating, I know – but here my BONUS photo:

This for me is one of my prettiest photos of the year, which I find shocking because in general I don’t like flower photos. They are rarely a good subject for me to shoot, but I love the way this one turned out. 

I really dig the angle and these magnificent colours which I enhanced quite strongly in post.  I went for a very soft contrast and a split tone for the colour. 

Everything about my subject here is just perfect. The flowers are flawless, but let’s get really nitpicky –  that flower stem in my lower right really breaks up the harmony of the shot. I suppose my next move is to remove it in Photoshop, but we shall see. I never aim for perfection because what in life is perfect? 

Have a fantastic day everyone,

Anthony and Diana