20 Best Photos of 2016

Time once again for the annual struggle to choose 20 photos that best represent my year in photography. As any creative-type might imagine, the process of choosing images for the Year in Review is both rewarding (in sifting through the thousands of photos taken this year, I found a few nice surprises that I'd overlooked at the time) and torturing ("was last year's Year in Review better? Am I actually getting worse at this? Were these really the best shots that I got?")

In choosing this year's favorites, I noticed the following:

1) I took tens of thousands of photos of my 1 year old daughter this year, and not much else. There were just a handful of days this year that I actually went out to take pictures. New Year's Resolution #1 for 2017 is to get out there and shoot more.  

2) I don't know if this represents an evolving personal style, but this year, a few things caught my eye much more-so than in years past: geometry, primary colors and umbrellas. Read into that what you may.

Without further ado: 

"Tribute in Light" September 11, 2016. New York City
Fujifilm XPro1, 14mm, f/8, 10s, ISO 400

I've been photographing the September 11th Tribute in Light for about five years now, and each year I try to find a new vantage point. This year, I planned to start on the Manhattan Bridge and make my way into the city to wander the streets around Lower Manhattan. But the views were so stunning, I spent 3+ hours on the bridge and called it a night.

"Tribute in Light over Chinatown" September 11, 2016. New York City
Fujifilm XPro1, 14mm, f/4, 2s, ISO 200

Another one from September 11th. This one was taken a few hours later from the Manhattan end of the bridge. The graffiti in the foreground is Chinatown, and the smell from the bridge was amazing. After taking this photo, I called it quits and went for dumplings.   

"A ray of hope. Wall Street, 9:25 a.m." October, 2016. New York City
Fujifilm X100s, 23mm, f/8, 1/500, ISO 200

Presidential debate #2 between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton was an especially dark, ugly and discouraging affair, sure to make anyone anxious-at-best about the future of our country. The next morning on the way to work, I climbed the stairs from the subway, stepped out onto Wall Street and saw this.  

"The center of attention" May 2016. Downtown Los Angeles
Fujifilm X100s, 23mm, f/8, 1/125, ISO 1000

I'd love to say this moment just happened. But I camped out in this spot for about 15 minutes hoping a pedestrian would walk through the street instead of along the sidewalk.

"The Refresher" September 2016. Los Angeles
Fujifilm XPro2, 35mm, f/8, 1/150, ISO 200

Los Angeles' original Farmer's Market is amazing for vintage signs and old school Americana. I was taking photos of this great old soda shop when this guy wandered into my shot. Sometimes the photography gods just hand you a scene from a Wes Anderson movie and you just have to be there to take the picture. 

"Beautiful" November, 2016. Brick Lane, London U.K. 
Fujifilm X100s, 23mm, f/8, 1/125, ISO 2000

Full credit for this photo goes to the graffiti artist. 

"Baltimore's Best Pawn" April, 2016. Westminster, MD
Fujifilm X100s, 23mm, f/5.6, 1/350, ISO 200

I mean, come on. You couldn't have asked for a better car to be parked there. Even the colors on the Louisiana license plate match.

"Stripes and squares" May, 2016. Downtown Los Angeles
Fujifilm X100s, 23mm, f/5.6, 1/250, ISO 200

Downtown L.A. is weird. There are pedestrian overpasses connecting nearly every building so it's entirely possible to traverse the city without ever touching the sidewalk. It must make urban planners insane. On the bright side, the walkways offer some interesting perspectives, transforming the streetscape below into a living Mondrian painting. 

"Calling for snow" January, 2016. Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn
Fujifilm XPro1, 35mm, f/1.4, 1/2000, ISO 640

In January, New York got the largest snowstorm on record with 27.5 inches falling in Central Park. Laziness prevailed and I only made it about four blocks from home before deciding it was too cold/windy/snowy and calling it quits. I'd make a terrible mailman.   

"Off duty" January, 2016. Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn
Fujifilm XPro1, 35mm, f/1.4, 1/2000, ISO 400

This photo was taken about a half block down from the previous one. I told you I didn't make it far. 

"Black and blue" May, 2016. Downtown Los Angeles
Fujifilm XPro1, 56mm, f/8, 1/125, ISO 500

This was another intervention from the photography gods. I was working this scene, taking some really mediocre photos of the reflection of these umbrellas in the marble when this guy in his perfectly matching blue shirt walked out to take a phone call smack in the middle of my shot. 

"Come together" March, 2016. New York City
Apple iPhone 6

One of my favorite photographers, Jay Maisel, says that all great photographs are about one of three things: Light, Color or Gesture. Light and color are easy to understand. Gesture is a bit harder to explain, but you know it when you see it. 

"The interloper" September, 2016. The Rose Bowl, Pasadena, CA
Fujifilm XPro2, 14mm, f/8, 1/100, ISO 500

One of these things is not like the others. One of these things just doesn't belong...

"Buff" May, 2016. Downtown Los Angeles
Fujifilm X100s, 23mm, f/8, 1/100, ISO 6400

We were staying at the Standard Hotel in Downtown L.A. for a quick work trip. I stepped out of the elevators and saw this. 

"Somewhere West" May, 2016. Location unknown
Fujifilm XPro1, 56mm, f/6.4, 1/2200, ISO 200

I took this photo from the airplane window on the way to the LA trip mentioned above. Taken somewhere between Kansas and California. 

"Santa Barbara Sunrise" September, 2016. Santa Barbara, CA
Fujifilm XPro2, 56mm, f/8, 1/850, ISO 200

While staying in Santa Barbara, I motivated myself to get out of bed stupid-early in the morning and go try to take some photos from the pier at sunrise. It was the right decision.

"The night swimmer" August, 2016. Santa Monica, CA
Fujifilm X100s, 23mm, f/2, 1/70, ISO 6400

I took 20 or 30 shots of this kid running in and out of the surf. Not many came out. Not because they were out-of-focus, but because he needed the lightness of the waves crashing in the background in order to make out the shape of his silhouette. 

"Chase" May, 2016. Pier 5, Brooklyn, NY
Fujifilm X100s, 23mm, f/16, 1/900, ISO 800

The nice thing about taking the ferry to work is that, instead of crowding onto a train and being wedged into a stranger's armpit, your commute home looks more like this. 

"Limitless" November, 2016. Brighton, U.K. 
Fujifilm X100s, 23mm, f/8, 1/250, ISO 200

At the end of Brighton Pier there's an amusement park. This shot was taken at the trampolines.

"West Pier" Novmber, 2016. Brighton, U.K.
Fujifilm XPro1, 14mm, f/16, 28s, ISO 200

Closed in 1975, Brighton's West Pier sat vacant and partially collapsed for years, until a fire gutted the structure in 2003. To get the ghostly effect in the water, this photo is a 28 second long exposure. I got this shot just in the nick of time. A few minutes later, those storm clouds unleashed a massive downpour and I went for fish and chips. 

Thanks for reading! And if you want to see more, you can check out 2105's Year in Review. Or 2014's Year in Review. Or follow me on Flickr or Instagram