My 2020 best photos vary widely in style, subject, and medium. I have photos in here I made with my DSLR, Hasselblad 500 c/m, iPhone, and Polaroid SLR 680.
As everyone knows, 2020 was an insane year. Despite there being lockdowns there was no shortage of things and people to photograph. I used every opportunity I could to capture what was happening around me.
These photos are my personal favorites and the ones people seemed to love the most this year in chronological order.
My 2020 Best Photos:
At the beginning of the year in January, the company I was working for at the time sent me to Miami for some work. While there I visited the Florida Everglades did one of my bucket list items, ride on an airboat ride. Becaues of it being in wintertime, there were very few tourists which allowed me to go on my own personal airboat ride. While on the right we saw some alligators in the water and I nervously lowered my camera very close to the water and captured this amazing photo of an alligator peeking her eyes above the water. I blogged about that trip here: Hiking Trails In The Florida Everglades
Leaning Tower of Dallas
In February Dallas had a very funny thing happened that made news all over the world. The elevator shaft of a building remained standing after a building was demolished. It became known as the “Leaning Tower of Dallas.” It happened only a few blocks from where I live, so I went there to photograph the leaning structure. To my surprise, there were people everywhere doing funny poses with the building for social media posts. To capture the humorous scene I didn’t worry about lining up the people with the building, I focused on photographing how they looked from my perspective.
This photo in particular always made me laugh, I love his energy and excitement about posing with the building. I blogged about it and posted the photos here: People hilariously posing with the Leaning Tower of Dallas. I also had a meme go viral I made of this tower which I wrote about here: My Leaning Tower of Dallas Rampage Meme Went Viral.
A Surreal Scene
I captured this scene in Heath, Texas in April, right after the COVID-19 locked down started in Dallas. I love this photo because I felt the sign represented what was going on, we all had to stop. Also, it’s a hopeful image with the sky in the background representing how I felt at the moment about the virus, I had hoped it would pass quickly with as little deaths as possible. Unfortunately, that hope proved to be overly optimistic.
A Proud Rooster
My wife and I were staying at my brother’s cabin for a week in Broken Bow to get away from the city. One evening while I was walking around with my camera I came upon a family of armadillos I captured a lot of photos of. While sitting there very quietly taking photos, this rooster walked right up to m. I pointed my camera at him captured this beautiful photo of him with a perfect background and lighting. I love the angle of his face, it was like he was posing for me.
A Polaroid of Gambit
Throughout the first lockdown, I took a series of Polaroid photos documenting the mountain and boring aspects of the lockdown. I posted those Polaroids here: COVID-19 Shelter-In-Place Polaroids.
In May I took this Polaroid of my miniature pinscher, Gambit, it’s the last photo I took of him. I took this minutes before we had to put him to sleep to kidney and organ failure. It happened right in the middle of the lockdown. His death was really hard on us because we were so close to him. His death reminded me of all the people losing beloved family members due to COVID, I thought and prayed for them a lot. I know losing a pet doesn’t compare to losing a parent or sibling or close friend, nevertheless, it was still difficult for us.
This photo is in my 2020 best photos because of not only my emotional attachment to it, also because of how sincere he looks in the photo. He loved me so much and I loved him too, I feel like his love for me came through in this photo. Sometimes when he would sit on my lap and just stare at my face like this, it was so cute. Also, I love that it’s a Polaroid photo, the format enhances feelings of nostalgia that already exists when I see photos of Gambit. I blogged a tribute to him here: A Tribute To My Cute Miniature Pinscher Gambit.
Social Distancing at The Lorraine Motel
At the end of the lockdown, my wife and I decided to drive up to Michigan and stay a few weeks with her family up there. On our way up there we spent the night in Memphis, Tennessee. While there we visit the famous Lorrain Motel where Martin Luther King Jr. was tragically assassinated.
I love this photo because how being there reminded me of the great sacrifice MLK made to make our country better for African Americans and all Americans. It’s also the first time we visited a historical place since COVID started and it was interesting experiencing social distancing in that kind of place. I wrote about it here: Honoring MLK While Social Distancing at the Lorraine Motel In Memphis, TN
An Old Barn
I saw this barn in May while visiting my wife’s father in Martin, Michigan. There’s no back story to this photo. I thought this was one of my 2020 best photos because of the extremely unusual texture and color palette of the photo. When I first saw it, I thought it was rusting. But when I got closer I was it was sprayed with some type of insulation and was never covered or painted over.
An Ode To My Youth
This is what I call this photo. I took while visiting a beach in Holland, Michigan with my wife and her mother. This photo is completely candid. When I arrived at the beach, I saw this boy jump from the sand dune. I instinctively pulled my camera and captured the boy while he was still in mid-air. I love this photo because of how surprised I was with how good it came out and it reminds me so much of me and brother when we were young.
Black Lives Matter Protest
Shortly after we returned home to Dallas, massive social unrest erupted all over the country due to the unjust killing of George Floyd. People were rioting and protesting in every major city in the US. In Dallas, I joined the protests against injustice and photographed the energy and spirit of the movement. I love this photo because it captured the energy and passion of these civil rights activists. Here are more photos from the protest: Dallas Black Lives Matter Protest And March
The End of An Era
I captured this photo on film with my Hasselblad 500 c/m medium format camera. Old East Dallas has been going through major gentrification for the past 10 years. For the past 5 years of it, I’ve been documenting the process on film. I love this photo because it shows an icon of the 50s on a house built from that same era. The poster of Marilyn Monroe was taken down shortly after I captured this photo.
I love this photo because it represents my project so well; the disappearance of the past, the fleeting nature of life, and the process of gentrification that can be seen with the new building in the background. Here are more photos from my gentrification project: Old East Dallas Gentrification Project.
The Sleeping Man
I also made this photo on film with my Hasselblad. On a Saturday afternoon, I went walking around taking photos when I came upon this scene. I know nothing about the man other than he was sleeping there. I love this photo and included it in my 2020 best photos because the man looks so at peace sleeping on a mattress in an alley in the middle of the day. It’s also very mysterious because he doesn’t look like a homeless man, he looks very well-groomed, he also had on clean workout clothes and a nice pair of running shoes.
Sam and Nia Rader Family Portrait
This is a family portrait I made of my brother and his family. I love it because I think it’s one of the best family portraits I have ever done. The lighting, background, colors, poses, and facial expressions all came out so perfectly. I’m really proud of this photo, it also ended up being their Christmas card photo.
The Milky Way Galaxy
In November my good friend John suggested we go camping in Copper Breaks State Park in Texas to do some stargazing. I did everything I could to learn how to photograph the Milky Way Galaxy. I was so excited when this photo came out so awesome because I had never successfully photographed the stars before. That mad this photo an easy entry into my 2020 best phtoos. Here is my blog about that trip: Stargazing at Copper Breaks State Park in The Texas Panhandle
Life in America
I took this photo in November while on a walk in Old East Dallas. Sadly, that woman has been living in that bus stop for months. I tried talking to her one time but she didn’t seem interesting in talking. I did get her a meal though. Regardless, I really like this photo because the subject matter of it shows the reality that many Americans are facing in our country.
The American flag-themed comforter off to the side, while she’s wrapped up in another blanket, is a sobering reminder that not everyone feels safe in the US. I have been learning a lot about my privilege as a white man in the US and how I can use that privilege to help others.
Flying Over Dallas
I captured this photo of Dallas on film with my Hasselblad from the roof of my apartment complex. I included this photo in my 2020 best photos because I’ve always been fascinated by the Dallas skyline and I have captured it many many times but never on film so crisply and with a plane flying over it.
“World’s Tallest Christmas Tree”
For the holidays my wife and I decided to go to Michigan again and spend more time with her family. This time on the way up there we decided to stay in Indianapolis, Indiana to get some overnight rest. While there we also visited their “World’s Tallest Christmas Tree,” which turned out to be a tree at all but a monument covered with Christmas lights. It was still an incredible sight that I loved capturing. Here’s my blog about that visit to Indianapolis: Indianapolis’ “World’s Largest Christmas Tree” At Night.
I made this photo Christmas Eve in a park in Holland, Michigan. This is was my first time in many years that I had been in a snowstorm. I loved it so much, I love being in the snow as it’s falling. I went to a park to get it photos of it covered with snow in the lamplights. While there I looked up and was amazed by how beautiful the snow looked falling down from the dark black sky.
I pointed my camera straight up and captured this photo. This is probably one of my all-time best photos not just one of my best 2020 photos. I love it because of how I felt in the moment making it. Also, because it reminds me of the work of one of my all-time favorite artists, Jackson Pollock. It seemed impossible to me to make a photo that would be any semblance of his incredible work. With this photo, I felt like I got to express how his art has inspired me into a single photo.
Asymmetrical Mobile Home
In the afternoon of Christmas day, Holland, Michigan was covered with several inches of snow. We went all over the city taking photos of a lot of pretty scenes. When I saw this trailer park I had to visit and captured its peaceful unique beauty overlayed with snow. I immediately fell in love with this photo, I love the symmetry of the overall scene with the asymmetrical mobile home in the center. This is definitely one of my 2020 best photos. Here is a blog of the photos I took that day: Photos: A White Christmas in Holland, Michigan.
Walking In Chicago
The day before the last day of 2020, I spent it walking around Chicago with my good friend Todd. Due to COVID and the sub-freezing weather, the city was eerily quiet and empty. We didn’t see many people at all walking around. I love this photo because of how dynamic the composition is. Also, the lone walking man is a good representation of the end of 2020 how most of us felt through the whole year, cold and alone. Here my blog about that day in Chicago: The Last Two Days of 2020 in Chicago.
A Snow Pile
This photo is the last of my 2020 best photos. I took this the night before 2020 ended. I had never lived in a city where it snowed so much that it had to be plowed. While walking around Chicago I found the large random piles of snow on the side of some streets to be odd and interesting. I started photographing them and created a small series of them here: Snow Piles in Downtown Chicago
I love this photo and included it in my 2020 best photos because the snow pile’s organic shapes contrast with the rigid structures of the city. It was interesting thinking about its current state, an awkward mass of snow, compared to what it was a few hours prior, a smooth spotless blanket of white on the ground.