A Year of Departure

The Colosseum in Rome

“I find it odd to confine life events and creative evolution to the arbitrary boundaries of a calendar year, but, as I have noted before, I welcome the excuse to pause and examine the progress, trends, and implications of my experiences in the past months.” Guy Tal

Statue of Puerto Rican composer Catalino “Tite” Curet Alonso in the Plaza de Armas, San Juan Puerto Rico

Odd or not, the tendency to compartmentalize our lives into blocks of 365 days is as good a way to reflect as any.  A calendar year works as well as a birthday or anniversary year for that purpose.  And I fear that if it wasn’t for the annual reminder, many of our species would not bother to look back at all, occupied as we are with running around, faces glued to electronic devices of all kinds in our real or imagined “busy-ness.”

The Doge’s Palace in Venice, Italy
Michelangelo’s “David” at the Galleria dell’Accademia di Firenze (Academy Of Florence Art Gallery)
The Vatican and St. Peter’s Basilica

As I looked back through my photographs from 2018 I began to realize that it was truly a year of departure for me, both literally and photographically.

  • Kathy & I “departed” from the workplace after 40 or so years of work.
  • We “departed” the shores of the U.S. for another continent for the second straight year
  • My photography “departed” from the norm, as more and more of my photographs had people in them
  • My photography “departed” from the norm, as more and more of my photographs were finished in black & white
  • Even more of my photos taken “in” a place are not “of” or “about” that place
  • We spent a month (actually 28 days) at the beach, the longest either of us had ever been away from home
Castiglione d’Orcia, Italy
Early morning, quiet street in Venice, Italy
Early morning, quiet street in Venice, Italy

I’m not sure what to make of the fact that more and more of my photos have people in them.  I’ve historically considered myself to be primarily a landscape photographer, and have often responded to requests to photograph weddings and portraits with something along the lines of “notice that most of my photos do not have people in them.  Thanks, but no.”  I do think that as I get older I find that experiences and relationships have taken a higher priority than trophy icon shots or sunrises and sunsets.  Oh, I still get my share of those, but for the most part the photos that call my name are the ones that bring back memories of a place, or more likely the memory of my feelings that I had when I was in the place.  Venice is a good example.  As much as I loved Tuscany, the few hours that I spent – mostly alone – wandering around Venice in the early morning is one of my most cherished memories.

Room keys on maid’s cart, Pienza, Italy
Pienza, Italy
Montalcino, Italy

I chose this collection of photos not because they are my “best” or “Greatest Hits” from 2018, but rather because they represent how I feel about the things I did and places I went, and how I felt while I was there.  It’s not that these are photos I never would have taken previously, but more that they are photos that better capture my memory of a place, not just documenting what I saw.

Kathy & I wish everyone a Happy New Year.  We’ve got lots planned for 2019 and are looking forward to getting started!

I saw this guy every morning, picking up trash before dawn. While there were a number of these street sweepers, I always knew where this guy was because he whistled constantly. My memories of mornings in Venice include the strains of whatever tunes were passing through his lips.
Palmetto Dunes Oceanfront Resort, Hilton Head Island, South Carolina
San Juan, Puerto Rico
Minneapolis Central Library, Minneapolis, Minnesota
Tuscan countryside near Pienza, Italy
St. Simon’s Island, Georgia
The Pantheon

8 thoughts on “A Year of Departure”

  1. Socrates statement “The unexamined life is not worth living” applies here… I love that you’re thinking through the differences in your photographs and how that coincides with the differences in your life.

    I, too, relate to the sense that relationships and interpersonal interaction have more value to me now than they did years ago. Or, maybe I’m just noticing it more. OR, maybe it’s that I’m more able to be discerning in the relationships that I value and those that I don’t. 🙂

    A great group of images above… I’m happy that you made them and found value in that making.

    Happy New Year!

    1. Thank you, Jeff. I have to say that a lot of what I’ve been thinking and doing was inspired by the time spent with you in Tuscany. I’m looking forward to a “recharge” as soon as it is feasible for me to get one. 🙂

  2. Very nice look back on your year, and certainly glad you didn’t *depart* from taking any photos! 🙂 Yep, these segmentations of our time on this planet are largely arbitrary, but the reflections are nice to share and look back upon from time to time.

  3. A gorgeous set of photographs yet again. It’s a real pleasure looking at them and reading about your reflections. As Mark said, I am glad you didn’t “depart” from making photographs 🙂
    Wishing you and Kathy the best of experiences in the new year.

    1. It’s been interesting to see how my photography has changed (I hesitate to use ‘evolve’ because that implies forward progress) over the years. I’ve enjoyed watching it change, and rather prefer to focus on making the most of the photographer I am today, as opposed to figuring out who I want to be tomorrow. Since it’s already 2019 for you, Happy New Year to you and your family! 🙂

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