Thank You, 2016

A lot of comments you see online about 2016 generally are of the “good riddance” variety. I get that, and clearly we did lose a lot of very talented people in the public eye.  But since you didn’t come here to read about that stuff - and I am not one to write about it, anyways - I wanted to share my thoughts on why I am thankful for 2016.  

Being a perpetual optimist, I always look on the bright side.  I am going to focus on the positive stuff that has happened for me this year, because honestly there has been quite a bit of it.  2016 has been an incredible year for me as a photographer, and for that I am very thankful.

Here are a few highlights:

  • I licensed quite a few images for commercial usage, which is always rewarding to me. I love when a corporation decides my photo is what they want to use in representing their organization publicly - coming from barely knowing a camera a few years ago, this is something I never imagined.
  • My blog views are up by 48%.  That’s huge!  In this world of social media, it is actually rather difficult to create things that cause people to leave those “walled gardens” of social media (Facebook, Instagram, etc) and go read something on a blog.  I continue to work hard to create things of value here.
  • I created a YouTube channel and started sharing my tips and tricks and this has reinvigorated my creative thinking in many ways.  I discovered that I absolutely love teaching these things.
  • …and the big one - I re-engaged with Macphun and created a significant amount of content both for their website and for my own (and for my YouTube).  This one is definitely the highlight of 2016 for me.  It’s honestly changed my trajectory, so to speak.
  • We traveled a fair amount as a family, which is always great.  After spending 6 weeks in Italy, we also were able to squeeze in a 3 week trip to France (Paris, Strasbourg) that included a 4 day stop in NYC on the way home.  Most of this travel was squeezed into the last half of the year.

You see, when 2016 began, I was using Lightroom and Photomatix, as well as the Google Nik Collection to edit the majority of my photos - pretty much what everyone else seemed to be doing.  Of course there was nothing wrong with using those tools, but they weren’t going anywhere interesting, so to speak (well, LR has continued to innovate, so I will give Adobe points for that).  But Photomatix has been the same for several years, and the Nik Collection (I primarily used only Color Efex Pro) hadn’t seen an update in a couple of years either.

Being an old Aperture guy, I get nervous when a product goes for a couple of years without any updates.  That never bodes well, especially in software.  Software is a market built on the very idea of innovation.  Innovate or die, they say…and those products were not innovating at all.

Then one day I got an email from Macphun (thanks Mark!) asking me if I was interested in being an affiliate in their program (I had been one years ago, but never did much with it, and they changed programs and I got lost in the shuffle).  Being asked to be an affiliate is not uncommon, being a fairly consistent photo blogger over the last 7+ years.  Usually I turn these things down because I prefer to only promote things I really love (and not everything in the universe), but this one caught my attention.  They had just released Aurora HDR a few months prior, and being an HDR guy (and having the good fortune to know Trey from his time in Austin), I knew the product had to be worth exploring.  And let’s face it, Photomatix wasn’t doing anything.

So I bit, and boy was that ever a good choice on my part!

Aurora HDR blew me away from the first time I opened it.  Literally, I have never opened Photomatix again.  It just had so much in the product that not only did I not need Photomatix anymore, but I didn’t need Color Efex Pro either!  (Which by the way, was a great thing since Google then announced it would be free, which is code for “we aren’t ever going to update this thing again”.)

So I started experimenting with it and came up with some fun things you could do in Aurora, and that’s how I started recording videos.  I always wanted to create some sort of educational content, but never felt like I had anything of value to add.  At times I thought I would look dumb and my content would be redundant or useless.  I literally was afraid to start sharing these things.

But I got over those fears and just started doing what I wanted to do.  My initial videos are a little tentative, so to speak - I was trying to find my voice and get comfortable with it.  Thankfully, many of you took notice and it seemed to be helpful, so I did more.  Macphun took notice too, and asked me to help create videos for the new Aurora 2017 and then for Luminar as well.  I’m blessed, people.  This was never in the plan for 2016, and that’s why I am thankful.  So thankful.

And now I am creating presets for Aurora HDR and Luminar, with more coming in 2017.  And on top of that I have other things planned for the new year, too.  I feel like I am just getting started.

I will come back later with a post outlining some things I want to do in 2017 (and I will be asking for your input and feedback), but I just wanted to take a moment here and say THANK YOU to everyone that has come by this year.  I truly appreciate the visits, likes, comments and interaction.  

Enjoy the rest of your holiday season and thank you once again.  Onward to 2017!