About this time every year, I share my favorite photos from the previous year. Well… like most of you, I didn’t get to travel much. In fact, I don’t think I have one new landscape photo to share from 2020. I did get a lot more bird photography in, which I may share in a separate post. But I realized that posting my favorite photos from 2020 wasn’t going to cut it this year.

Instead, I’m doing something different. There’s enough bad news around so I figured, rather than add to it, I’d do something different (and mostly non-photography related) and simply share some good things that came from 2020 for me. Most of it is personal but some photography. I also hope you’ll take a moment to think about (and share) something good that happened for you in 2020 in the comments below whether it’s photo related or not.

Sidenote: We’re in some very odd times right now. I respect everyone’s choice to handle these times in the way they sit fit for themselves and their families. If you do comment below please know, this is not a place to discuss your beliefs or anyone else’s beliefs on Covid, vaccines, politics, etc… In fact, I’d love if the words “covid” and “politics” don’t even get mentioned 🙂 I monitor my comments VERY closely and often anything off topic will immediately be deleted.

First off, I consider myself one of the lucky ones when it comes to business. Years ago, after I left Kelby, I decided to concentrate my business nearly 100% online because I didn’t want to travel as much as I did in the years prior. And I stayed 100% an educator, not a photographer. So… I taught 1 or 2 workshops a year, but 95% of my income was from the online business, which (thankfully) wasn’t typically hit as hard in 2020. Total dumb luck on my part, and my heart goes out to photographers (and everyone else) who’s livelihood was (and still is) severely impacted.

Anyway, all that to say, I stayed busy. I thought I worked hard in my life before 2020, but I don’t think I ever worked as hard as I did last year, and I’m incredibly thankful for that. So here’s a quick list of good things that happened in 2020.

  1. I think one of the best things about 2020 is that many of us (with younger children) got to spend more time with our families. My oldest son is in his second year of college, and my youngest is a senior in High School. Anyone who’s had children knows that, at these ages, your kids are usually this shadowy figure that you barely see, as they really start developing their independence and their own lives. My oldest son is at school about 2 hours away from us, so we saw him once in a while (when he wanted laundry done) but not much. And my youngest was busy with school and sports and girls and… well you get the idea. But in March, April and May, they were both home every day, and there wasn’t much for them to do. So we got to spend a TON of time with them. We worked out in the garage together every day, watched movies, cooked, etc… We also got to take a couple of trips with them that we may not have normally had the time to do. Over the summer we went out west and I got to show them the Grand Canyon, Zion, some places in Arizona and even Vegas. And because they had an extended winter break we just got back from a ski trip to Utah. Now, my oldest is back at college and our youngest’s high school offers in person classes (and he wanted to attend), so life is mostly back to normal where we don’t see them as much anymore. But it was really good while it lasted 🙂
  2. Back in March, we were on a ski trip when everything closed down. I came home on a Monday and on Tuesday I had so many messages from people who were asking about tutorials, and things that they could do to stay busy during the lockdown. So I started a series of “Stuck Inside” webinars. Along the way, I got to meet a TON of great people online. As I’ve said before, I’m an educator, not a photographer. So when I get to help people, I honestly am at my happiest. And doing these webinars was a great way for me to stay busy, as well as help others stay busy too. Plus, it lead to me doing a series of webinars for Camera Clubs around the world. Again, I got to make so many new online friends and I was really able to see people improve in their photo editing skills over those months.
  3. Early on in the lockdowns, because we didn’t see our friends as much I developed even better relationships with some friends that I talked with on the phone. My buddy Blake Rudis (from f64academy.com fame) is some one I talked to semi-frequently before Covid. But as we were home more, and both concentrating more on our online businesses, we eventually started to talk nearly every day and we still call each other several times a week. Another friend, Brian Matiash, would speak once every couple of weeks and now we talk to each other several times a week now as well. I’m thankful that I’ve gotten to develop these relationships more with the two of them and while I always considered them great friends, we are now even closer.
  4. I took up stand up paddle boarding (also know as SUP). I never knew I wanted a paddle board. We have a place on the beach near Clearwater, FL. While public access to beaches was closed from March until May, private access remained open and the beach became our refuge from the monotony. Life was mostly normal there. Then one day I saw some one paddle boarding and I decided I wanted to try. Next thing you know, my wife and I were hooked and we now have 3 paddle boards and it’s one of my favorite things to do.
  5. Keeping with the water sports, I also got a kayak. I started to take my SUP out with my camera gear (in a dry bag) and do some bird photography. As stable as I think I am on my board, it was still a little uneasy being on the board with thousands in camera equipment. So I decided something a bit more stable would be good and I got a kayak. It really gets me in to some great spots with all of the shorebirds that frequent our area on the water and I’m able to get angles and opportunities I wouldn’t be able to get from land. And it’s a solid kayak, so I’m not afraid of it tipping or anything.
  6. Speaking of bird photography… since traveling was limited, I had a lot more time to work on wildlife photography. Florida is one of the best places in the world for bird photography, so I took advantage of it. The joke with my wife was “Honey… I’m taking my camera out for a walk”. Then, as I’d walk down the beach, people would stare at me with massive lens wondering what the heck I was doing. Anyway, I posted a small Flickr gallery of some of the photos in case you’re interested in looking.
  7. You’ll laugh at this one but it’s true. Last May we were siting on the beach with some friends of ours and one of them was talking about how much he liked Bourbon. I’ve always thought it was such a cool looking and fancy drink but it tasted like jet fuel to me at first. But I vowed I would like Bourbon by the time summer was over, so I started drinking it. I eventually started to tolerate it and now I even look forward to a nice glass of Bourbon in the evening. Yeah… like I said… I figured you’d laugh at that one. Who makes it their mission to like alcohol more right? Me I guess! 😉
  8. Another really cool thing that happened is my brother moved 3 miles away from me. My brother is 7 years older than I am, so we were never super close growing up due to the age difference. Then, I moved away from New Jersey to go to college in Florida. He settled in New Jersey, and then eventually moved to Boston. So we typically only saw each other once a year. But in July, he decided to leave the Northeast and move to Florida. His work had no plans of returning to normal office life, and he can travel to whatever he needs, so it was the perfect opportunity. As a result, we’ve gotten much closer and now I have some one to share a glass of bourbon with as we ponder the meaning of life 🙂
  9. While my online business kept me incredibly busy this year, I did have some spare time here and there so I decided to take that opportunity to start learning Spanish. I’ve always wanted to become more fluent. I’m nowhere near where I want to be, but my hope is that when my next Costa Rica workshop comes up, I’ll actually be able to semi-converse with our guide in his native language.

Well, that about wraps up my “Good Things in 2020” post. I realize many people have different beliefs, life situations and restrictions and I respect everyone’s choices to do what’s right for them. My hope is that no matter what those situations are, you can think back to something good that came out of last year. As things open up and vaccines become more prevalent, I also hope you’ll take whatever that good thing(s) was and maybe even continue it going forward.

Happy New Year everyone!

PS: We’re in some very odd times right now. I respect everyone’s choice to handle these times in the way they sit fit for themselves and their families. If you do comment below please know, this is not a place to discuss your beliefs or anyone else’s beliefs on Covid, vaccines, politics, etc… In fact, I’d love if the words “covid” and “politics” don’t even get mentioned 🙂 I monitor my comments VERY closely and often anything off topic will immediately be deleted.


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