Tomorrow is Thanksgiving. It’s a holiday primarily celebrated in the United States to give thanks for the bounty of the previous year.
Photographically, it’s been a great year for me. I am thrilled, gratified, amazed, happy and fulfilled by the knowledge that even after all these years, my photography is still improving. I learn something new each month. In my mind I always seem to think I have things figured out until “things” teach me a thing or two and then I’m grateful that I got a chance to learn.
For all of us, it’s been a good year for gear. The cameras and lenses just keep getting better and better. The post-processing software just keeps improving. New camera technology like that built into the Lytro and the high-end hybrid video/still cameras has everyone talking.
I’ve had particular fun this year playing with all sorts of new cameras, and the accessories that make them easier to use. I’ve discovered the joy of going out to shoot with less gear and been working with smaller cameras.
I’m thankful for all the chances I got to speak or teach at photo-related conferences this past year. In addition to several private events for camera companies and other photo-related meetings, I made public appearances at CES, NAB, Skip’s Summer School, Photoshop World, the monthly Las Vegas SMUG group and PSPA. Due to an already full schedule, I won’t be doing much public speaking next year – so I will fondly remember these experiences and the photographers I met at each event.
I’m also thankful that even in a down economy my photography business is still going strong. Part of that success is from the Internet – which has given all of us more ways to market and sell our photographs as well as more ways to share and show them. I also appreciate my sponsors who help make all the work I do here at Photofocus possible. When Photofocus first launched in 1998, it had no sponsorship to speak of, and for most of its life it has been a labor of love.
I’m thankful for my friend Skip Cohen and our new book, Going Pro: How to Make the Leap from Aspiring to Professional Photographer, which finally hit book stores after nearly two years of very hard work. I am hopeful that it will help its readers move from surviving to thriving as professional photographers. I am already thankful for the positive response we’re getting from people who’ve already found the book helpful. That’s a relief.
I’m thankful for the chance to go and see and make images in some of the most spectacular places on the planet. I’m also grateful for some of the cool events I get to photograph like the major car auctions and auto shows, and IndyCar, NASCAR and NHRA races at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. As for travel, my trip to Alaska to photograph the eagles was amazing. I’ll never forget it. I’m also always grateful for Bosque del Apache. I sit among the birds at Bosque even as I write this post.
I’m thankful for the opportunity to run the many contests and giveaways I do on Twitter. When it’s all said and done I think I will have hit my goal of giving away 12 cameras this year. While each contest is fun, nothing matches the joy I get when I hear or see or read about the excitement of the winner. Some of this year’s camera winners have contacted me to say that the simple gift of a camera has changed their lives. That’s all the reinforcement I need to keep doing it.
I’m thankful for all the good things – and even the not so good things that happened to me this past year. I’ve had some medical challenges. They weren’t all bad in that they have taught me to appreciate life more than I did in the past. Then I discovered something even better – a deep appreciation for life will make anyone a better photographer. And while I got more than my usual share of troll attacks this year, they served to help me find out who my real friends were. That’s something to be very thankful for. I got to find out that most of my real friends were the people I thought they were. I have more than I realized! The few people I wasn’t sure about proved out to be anything but real friends, and my life is better knowing who is who. I’m thankful those people are out of my life. It’s always possible to turn a negative into a positive if you have the right attitude.
Now to the most basic things – I’m thankful to still be alive. Those of you who are still young have no idea what a gift youth is. As I age, I realize that my best days are behind me physically, but I am glad and thankful that I am still here to tell stories with my camera. I’m very lucky to get to do that for a living.
I hope this Thanksgiving season is a good one for all who visit this site. Take a minute if you can to reflect on all the people, places and things you are thankful for in your photographic life. Remember them and cherish them. No matter how challenging your situation may be, I bet that if you really concentrate, you can find something to be thankful for.