Top Images of 2020
At the end of every year, I like to sit down and look through all the images I’ve taken in the past year. It’s one of my favorite traditions because I reflect back on the year and most of the time, I have forgotten about some of the fun photo excursions I’ve been on. It’s also really nice to put all these images together in one place and view them as a collection.
We can all agree that 2020 was very unusual. Not only were there times where I felt uncomfortable going out to take pictures, but there were times where I just felt uninspired and a lot of judgment towards my own work. The judgment towards my work has always been there, however it was much more amplified this year. I tried my best to go out and shoot at least once a week but there have been at least a dozen photo walks that I’ve been on where NO ONE has seen the pictures from. I just wasn’t happy with them, so they are just sitting in my Lightroom catalog as we speak.
But that’s not to say that I lost my passion for photography. I feel like I am even more passionate about it than ever. When I wasn’t out shooting or doing the normal stuff I would typically be doing in a normal year, I was at home learning. I have never watched so many tutorial videos, read so many books, and slowed down to be really present while I’m out shooting. Perhaps that’s why I’ve been so hard with myself. I always felt like something could be better or different and I’m trying to use all that I’ve learned and apply it to my real-life shooting.
Typically I would have another blog post about my favorite travel images, but that obviously didn’t happen this year either… LOL. So here are my favorite images from 2020 🙂
At the very beginning of the year, my friend Andy messaged a few of friends and started a little group called Sunday Sunrise. We were going to try to meet up every Sunday… for sunrise. LOL. Unfortunately, the group was only able to meet a few times in the beginning of the year, but while we were in the peak of meeting up, I created this one beautiful morning. I just love how the reflection turned out with that person walking towards the Washington Monument.
It’s interesting because this was the day that I realized that I take a majority of my images in a vertical orientation. A couple of years back, a friend of mine told me that magazines are always looking for vertical images because magazines are vertical. So ever since then, I’ve tried to challenge myself with the vertical orientation. And then Instagram started favoring the vertical orientation as well, so I’ve been creating pictures that way without even realizing it. This year, I’ve been making a conscious effort to take more horizontals to balance out the way that my imagines are seen.
Another image with our Sunday Sunrise group. I don’t remember it raining or anything the day before, but there was this large puddle at the Grant Memorial. It was an awesome find because it gave such a different perspective of the US Capitol building. The beautiful sunrise colors was an added bonus!
It felt like spring came early this year and it was very much welcomed. I find that I’m always on the hunt to find new places to capture all the beautiful blooms in the city. I have been to the National Cathedral a few times for spring, but it was mostly to photograph the Saucer Magnolias that are at the park next to it. Never had I thought of walking the grounds and I was so pleasantly surprised when I saw these beautiful blooms.
For some reason, these yellow Forsythias had me mesmerized. I was obsessed with this shot but I had to go to the US Capitol 2 or 3 times to capture it. For some reason, I just couldn’t get it right. So one lucky morning I did and I loved the way it turned out!
In an effort to get as much shooting done as I could before our official “stay at home” order was in place, I tried to capture the cherry blossoms as much as I could. Also practicing my horizontals, I love how much depth is shown in this image. The person in front looks so much bigger than the one by the Washington Monument with the beautiful cherry blossom tree dividing them.
This was image was taken on the very last day I went out to photograph the cherry blossoms. COVID was already all over the news but I knew I had to get out and take more pictures. At that time, I just remember feeling very alert of everyone around me and what they were doing. Face masks weren’t a thing yet and for a Friday morning, during cherry blossom season, this was probably a quarter amount of the people that would have been in attendance in previous years. It was nice but still very scary. This image just brings so many of those feelings back.
Ok, but this was my last photo walk before the quarantine. It was a Sunday morning, Andrew and I just wanted to go on a long walk with Frankie so we decided to go down to the Mount Vernon trail. We figured along the trail, there would be room to spread out and it was a great morning just to stretch our legs. But the best part about it was that it was a foggy morning. I loved the views of the Mount Vernon trail on this day. So I was mostly taking pictures while Andrew and Frankie were doing the walking. LOL.
But this was the first of MANY trail walks by our house that Andrew and I would do together during quarantine. With and without Frankie.
LOL. This all started as an Instagram challenge. I feel like, at the beginning of quarantine, a lot of photographers were posting challenges for others to do. Well, my friend tagged me in a self-portrait challenge and I was really hesitant about creating one just because I don’t like being in front of the camera. But one day I finally decided to do it. The set up was minimal and I just sat in a corner of our bedroom floor. I was holding a remote in my hand and created about 10 of these portraits. This one was my favorite.
However, the image itself took a life of its own. It ended up on Washingtonian Magazine’s website and in print. It was so cool to see some of my other photo friends featured as well.
Obviously not much happened in May except for puzzles at home and more walks on the neighborhood trail. LOL.
But June changed everything. George Floyd’s murder caused an uproar in the nation and in Washington. At first I was a little hesitant to go out and photograph what was happening in the city, but once I went, I couldn’t stop. The emotions that you feel while attending these protests are indescribable. I found that the smaller, detailed moments meant the most to me.
This is an image I captured of the fence that surrounded the White House as someone was hanging streamers spelling out the name “Floyd” with a bouquet of roses.
Instead of rushing down to the National Mall, waiting hours for the fireworks to start, this year I decided to stay home with family. In the past, my family usually gets together without me. They’ll have a bbq and then light some of their own fireworks. I’m so glad I stayed back or else I wouldn’t have gotten this adorable image of my little niece when the fireworks got a little too loud for her.
But my absolute favorite part about summer is the summer storms. I tried to go out and capture it a few times but there was only one time where I was able to capture the lightning. It was dark and moody and I’m grateful to have been standing at the Lincoln Memorial for shelter.
Since I didn’t photograph the fireworks on the 4th, I decided that I would check out what the fireworks for President Trumps Republican nomination would look like. I figured I’d go to the Reflecting Pool since most people would be by the White House, but it was awesome because there was barely anyone at there. There were 3 other photographers and 2 guys who were reporting the news. It was great because I was right by the reporters and they were playing President Trumps speech loud so I was going to be able to hear when it ended and when the fireworks start. But even with all that notice, I still was preoccupied with photographing the ducks when the fireworks actually started so that’s what I was focusing on when the show started. I love how they just added that subtle element into the image.
The day before my birthday, Al Sharpton led the March on Washington where thousands gathered at the Lincoln Memorial in efforts to end systemic racism. It was a day that will be hard to forget because of the amount of love and support I could feel walking through the crowd. I have to be honest, there were more people than I had expected to show up but it was a great summer day.
Somehow I managed to get to the top of the Lincoln Memorial steps and capture the crowd through two bystander’s shoulders.
I know this isn’t an actual photograph, but it does represent a project I was working on for most of September. A video series with Gather by EventsDC called “Capture the Capital” where I give some of my best tips on how to create creative images in Washington. I had never done a project like this before but I just remember thinking about how grateful I was to work with such great people on this project. Not only was EventsDC awesome, but my friend Dave helped me film a majority of these videos, my friend Andy helped me film as well and appeared in one of the videos, and Francis helped me edit them in a way that made it 1000x better than what I could have done myself in the time period given. So grateful to have been able to work with all of them!
Finally out of the house! Andrew, Frankie, and I went on a road trip to visit New Hampshire for the first time. It was perfect timing too. The leaves were so colorful and vibrant. This particular image was at a waterfall right off the main road. I loved how convenient it was to photograph but I also love how the photographer adds so much scale to the colorful mountains in front of him.
Every hike we hiked in the White Mountains region of New Hampshire has an incline. And the incline is pretty intense. Luckily, this particular hike was paved most of the way which probably made it slightly easier for us to walk. We said we were giving Frankie a little break, but I’m pretty sure it was us who needed to take a rest. I really like this unconventional family portrait of us.
And the last march/protest that I attended this year was the Women’s March in October. The energy was just really different from the ones I had attended over the summer. It just shows how fierce women can really be! I captured a lot of images that I really like but I don’t know this frame is just so simple and the hand gesture is just perfectly placed in the arch as another framing device.
At the end of my time at the march, I turned around to the US Capitol to head back to my car. I noticed these young girls taking their own pictures in front of the capitol but they were doing gymnastic type moves and thought it was so cool. I tried my best to position myself in a way that her legs could frame the Capitol dome but she was only up there for a few seconds before coming down. This stance only lasted for a split second but I knew the second that I captured it, I caught something good!
And for the 4th year in a row, I went with my friend Larry to photograph the sunrise at Shenandoah National Park. It’s an annual tradition that I love, plus I hadn’t seen Larry for more than 6 months at that point so it was great to catch up and to capture such an amazing fog in the valley.
During the month of November, I spent a fair amount of time planning and organizing a workshop with my friend Birch in collaboration with the Phillips Collection and IGDC. We discussed things like what we think about while we’re out on photo walks and how we captured some of our favorite images. Reflecting on how to capture great images, really got me inspired to go out and create more. This was one morning right after the first session of the workshop.
There were a lot of helicopters flying around the city that morning, luckily they flew in pairs. So I noticed the first two fly by pretty quickly. Soon after that, another pair came flying by. But the last pair seemed like they were landing at the US Capitol. It was CRAZY! I had to go run and find a good position where I could capture them. This was the last helicopter to fly by and I love that I was able to capture the very top of the Capitol dome plus if you zoom in really close, you can actually see someone looking out the window.
Right after the second workshop was done, Andrew and I hopped in the car and drove down to the Mall. I don’t know what it was about that workshop, but I felt super inspired to capture more images. I love this one of these two kids at the Washington Monument. It reminds me of childhood but it’s also just an ordinary scene of things that happen every day at the Monument. It’s so fun to watch.
I first learned about infrared photography in one of my high school photography classes. It was probably in Photo 3 when our teacher wanted us to experiment with different types of photography. I remember using medium format Holga cameras, infrared, and toy cameras too. But I have not touched it since. Infrared has always been something I kept in the back of my mind and keep going back and forth as to whether or not I want to convert one of my old cameras to infrared because the final product is just so cool! Especially color infrared.
But for this image, my friend lent me his converted infrared camera and I spent less than an hour at the Kennedy Center with it. This was one of my images and I LOVE the way that it turned out. Since I’m so new at it, I feel like I still need practice before trying color infrared but the glow on these trees makes me smile.
An unexpected invitation to the National Cathedral on the 22nd left me in awe! Les Colombes (The Doves) by Michael Pendry is amazingly beautiful and I feel like Birch and I got a unique experience since we saw it at night. One of my favorite parts is definitely the reflections you can see on the ground. The whole exhibition is just amazing. Fun fact: each dove has a note of inspiration or hope written on them. It’s closed to the public now but the Cathedral hopes to open it soon when it’s safe. Check the website for updates.
I hope you enjoyed my personal picks of favorite images of 2020. It’s hard to believe that I created so many images that I’m proud of, especially this year but I’m grateful for every opportunity I have to click my shutter button.
Wishing you all the best for 2021! It’s going to be the best one yet.