A journey through 2013

In an effort to select my 13 Favorite Images of 2013 for a blog post on my photography blog (which you should check out), I spent my afternoon journeying through this past year - via my Lightroom Catalog. :)  I spent several hours going through and marking my very favorite images (trying to get it down to 13) and ended up with over 70 "very favorite" images.  I had to take out all of the "personal" images and only include the "fine art" ones - but I still think these leftover ones deserve a place on the web.  In my mind, these are actually the more important ones - they are the ones that capture the way I was feeling, or a moment that was special enough to deserve to be saved.

This is the biggest reason for my love of photography - that you can freeze a moment in time and come back to it years later.  I've lived long enough to recognize that there is so much power in a photograph from long ago.

I realized that a lot happened in 2013.  And now I feel the need to document it with words too and tell you a bit about why I love these photos.

You might wonder why I take so many photos of flowers.  Believe it or not, there is an actual reason for it.  Many of these flower photos happen on days when I'm struggling - when I'm feeling down and having a hard time finding the beauty in this life, I often take my camera outside and I'm quickly reminded that this world is in fact a beautiful place if you look a little closer.  So these photos remind me that God is faithful and even in the darkest time there is much to be thankful for.

This is Raegan, a daughter of a teacher at HES. (That's Hugo Elementary School, for those of you who don't know - where I worked for two years before I moved to Chicago.)  She "modeled" for me as I tried some new photography techniques last March.  We had a lot of fun.

When I'm feeling too much to put into words, I often turn to self portraits to express myself.  This one was during the depressing days of winter, probably around the confusing days when I was deciding if YAV was the right path for me to go down.

These two are from the same day.  I don't remember the occasion (Easter, maybe?) but I remember everyone was over at Mom and Dad's for a big dinner.  That first one I just love because it's Becca with her cat, something that those who know Becca will understand.  She has been a cat lover since she was a tiny thing.  And the second one is me, Becca, and Dad.  We don't take very many pictures of Dad, and that's why I love this one.

In going through my photos from last year, I realized that I got to see my grandpa at least three times in 2013.  I've always lived all the way across the country from him, as he's lived in Washington state for most of my life, so visits with him are always special.  A year or so ago, one of my aunts got a job as a flight attendant and was able to give flight benefits to my grandpa.  As a retired man with a huge family spread all over the country, being able to fly for free has meant that we've gotten to see a whole lot more of him, something that I cherish.  (So thanks, Aunt Amy!) And this photo is pretty much what a visit with Grandpa looks like.  I remember we had been sitting at the table since I got up (thus the breakfast dishes), just talking.  A game of some sort probably broke out soon after this.  That's just what we do - we eat, we talk, and we play games - and I can't imagine anything better.

This one was also taken during my grandpa's visit.  Uncle Chuck and Aunt Eileen lived in Witchita (Kansas) at the time and they were able to come down to visit for a few days.  The weather was gorgeous, so we went out to the lake for a picnic.
I am so thankful that I thought to take my camera with me to school a couple of times last year.  I can't share most of those images online because of privacy policies with the company that I worked for (This one is okay because you can't see enough of her face for her to be recognizable).  But these images of the kids I worked with for two years sure mean a lot to me.
When I was in college, a bunch of my friends and I went every year to Lifelight, a Christian Music Festival in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.  It's where a lot of my very favorite memories happened.  So when Lifelight announced that they were having a festival in Sherman, TX, which is just an hour and a half from Hugo (that's nothing in Oklahoma) I was SO excited to get to go.  I took both of these during The Newsboys concert.  They do an awesome show if you ever get a chance to go.
My sister got a kitten last Spring, Minnie.  We had such fun playing with her when she was so tiny.  I love kittens.

In an effort to improve my photography last year, I spent a lot of time studying light - how it changes and all the different ways it effects photos.  I remember this day it had just rained (thus the raindrops, lol) but the sun came out and the light was amazing!  So I grabbed my camera and snapped these.  I took them so fast that I didn't even notice the little grasshopper in there - I didn't see him until I uploaded them to my computer later!  What a fun surprise!!

I spent a week in Wisconsin for my college friend Holly's wedding.  I have a lot of great photos from that trip but in narrowing them down I decided that this one is my favorite. :)  Her parent's had a big 4th of July party at their house a few days before the wedding and she and her dad performed some songs together.  It was so cute and special!

Okay, here come the big ones.  As I mentioned earlier, my grandpa lives in Washington state.  But I didn't mention that I have lots of other family out there too.  My mom is one of seven kids and over half of them  live in Washington, plus their kids and their families - on Whidbey Island, in Anacortes, and in Lynden.  Washington is my favorite place.  Ever.  It's just so beautiful.  In July, my mom, my sister, and a friend and her daughter, Tori and Landrey went out to visit for 10 days or so.  It was wonderful.  And I took a lot of pictures.  I couldn't narrow it down any more than this.

A street performer at Pike's Place Market.  Also, I have to admit that I loooove out of focus shots like this one.  I have kind of weird taste.

The mandatory photo as we cross from the mainland to Whidbey Island on the ferry to my grandpa's house.  I love this shot because it shows how ridiculously windy it really was this day, but they were so excited to be there!

I love how tall the trees are.  And green, so much green in Washington.

I love this shot of my grandpa with Landrey when we went on a hike in the woods.  Because first, she fits in just like another one of our family, and second, its like a fairy wonderland in the woods!  Those ferns!

Cousins playing at the beach at Deception Pass, one of our favorite places.

We went up in the Cascade Mountains for a day.  Sooooo beautiful there too.

And then back to the beach - that's my sister and cousin out there in a kayak.

A macro shot I love - partly because I love the lines of the tiny stems and partly because these are my grandma's flowers.

And a final shot of Tori and Landrey on the beach before we left.  I just love it.

And this is my kitty, Bella.  Well, she's actually my sister's.  But I love her.  And I love it when she sleeps with her head upside down like this.  So precious.

And finally, the YAV adventure begins.  I took this self portrait as I attempted to pack my entire life into two suitcases.  It was such a challenge and I think this photo captured all of those emotions.
But you know what?  I hardly miss any of that stuff that I had to leave at my parents.  Really.  This has been a great exercise in loosening the grips of all that stuff and reminding me how little it means.
YAV Orientation: we spent a week in New York (the state, not the country)  It was such an overwhelming week and one of the days I spent an incredibly therapeutic morning getting up at sunrise and wandering the beautiful retreat center with my camera.  So peaceful.
Although I did get swarmed by bees to get this shot.  Not so peaceful.

This was the view most of the week, though.  My fellow YAVs, all in one room, praising Jesus.

And we are in Chicago, guys!

I love this shot because it captures just how I felt (and often still feel) downtown - just dwarfed and amazed by the crazy big-ness of this city.

And taken on one of my solo exploring days, the view of the city from the El.

And just when I needed a break from the city, we went camping outside the city and I got to see some corn!

We went to the apple orchard.  And Benjamin is just too cute with an apple in each hand.

So cute.  Even when he's crying.  Poor little guy.
Grandpa came to visit again and I spent a week in the suburbs with him, my mom, and my cousin's family, where we all helped Della walk.

Just as I was feeling uninspired with my camera and hadn't picked it up in a long time, I got out my cookbook and turned to another hobby, baking.  And suddenly had the urge to dust off my camera and pick it back up.

Jonathan and I went to visit the infamous Sue the T-Rex at the Field Museum.

And then Christmastime happened in Chicago.  Christkindle Market.  And then our measely Christmas decorations at the YAV House.


We went on a Silence Retreat at the Zoo.


And then I got to go home for Christmas!  There's nothing quite like my mom and dad's Christmas Tree.  So full of memories.  

My mom went with me to check out a few locations the day before I did Becca & Josh's engagement photos, and of course I had to take a couple of "test shots."  Love her.

And then I did Becca & Josh's engagement photos.  They're so cute.

And that's my year.  It's been an adventure, for sure.  If you made it this far, you deserve an award.  Let me know you made it this far and I'll send something cool, like a print of one of my photos or something. :)  Seriously.