At the end of every year, I always enjoy going through my photos and picking some of my favorites. It’s a fun exercise. And I inevitably end up finding some photos that I may not have thought much of at the time, but I really like now. If you haven’t already, I encourage you to try it. I think you’ll enjoy the process.
Once Again… Less Travel = Less Photos
Being self employed and concentrating on making videos for my followers, as well as courses and presets to support the business (and kid’s college funds), means I don’t travel like I used to when I was doing seminars and conferences like crazy. That means I don’t get to as many places to shoot.
I’m very proud to say that I only made Gold Status on Delta this year 🙂 While it may mean I don’t get all the perks I used to, it also meant I got to stay home and be with family MUCH more. With one son graduating this year, and another two years behind, they’ll be off at college soon enough, so it’s nice to be home now.
But I do still travel a decent amount, so it’s not like the opportunities have dried up. I taught some workshops in Costa Rica, some conferences and events, and took some family vacations, so that definitely helps. And I’ve got my favorite spots near home, and discovering new ones.
My Favorite Photos… Not Instagram’s Favorite Photos
This year, more than ever, I’ve seen people post a grid of their Instagram top favorited photos. I think that’s great and it’s a fun way to share, but I deliberately picked “MY” favorite photos over doing that. The reason behind it is that Instagram (like all social media services) has an algorithm. And it chooses what you should see. For example, if I had a favorite wildlife photo of the year, and it was intermixed with all of my landscapes, I can guarantee you that it wouldn’t make Instagram’s top favorited photos because IG (as a collective whole) just doesn’t seem in to wildlife photos. I’m not say you, in particular don’t like wildlife, but if you look at what’s popular on IG, it’s not going to fit in that category.
So rather than be at the mercy of an algorithm, I picked what my favorites are instead 🙂
Most photos were taken with the following equipment. You can always see more on my Gear page as well.
Camera Body: Sony A7Riii
- Sony 24-70mm f/2.8
- Sony 16-35mm f/2.8
- Sony 70-200mm f/2.8
- Sony 24mm f/1.4
The tripod I use the most now is the Really Right Stuff TVC-24L. I’ve switched over to it (from the TVC-33) now that my gear is smaller. And I use the RRS BH-40 Ballhead.
As for filters, I didn’t use many this year, but the ones I do use are listed on my gear page. Mostly a B&W Circular Polarizer.
And Now…My Favorite Photos of 2018
Okay, here goes. Here’s my favorite photos of 2018. Click on any photo to see it larger. And if you’re wondering how these photos made this category, it was simple. They’re my personal favorites. I didn’t go on to Instagram and look to see what got liked the most. I didn’t ask anyone about them. I didn’t look at likes or favorites or anything if I posted them on Social Media. They’re just photos that I’m particularly fond of for some reason or another. And since I don’t make a living from selling my photos to others, I’m pretty sure that’s all that counts these days 🙂
Emerald Bay in Lake Tahoe – This one has been on my list for years. My family took a ski trip to Lake Tahoe last February and I got up early to go shoot. I’ve always loved the view here, and I’m probably the millionth person to take this shot. But that’s ok. I like it. And I was pretty much alone on this morning. Nobody arrived until after sunrise, which is pretty much when I was done shooting 🙂 Another interesting fact is that I went here the day before too. But it was windy and the lake wasn’t flat. I had the photo I wanted in my head, and that wasn’t it. I wanted the nice color in the sky, reflected in the water, with the silhouetted trees. Kinda… well… like the photo I got below the day after 🙂
Safety Harbor Sunrise – This is probably my second favorite. Mainly because it almost didn’t happen. I sat there in my car looking at a blah group of clouds thinking the sunrise wouldn’t really happen. As I was scrolling through random things on my phone, not wanting to get out of the car (it was a chilly FL morning), I looked up and saw this happening. I don’t think I ever jumped out of my car so far. I wrote a little more here if you’re interested.
Tampa Bay Sunrise – The rest of the photos are in no particular order of my preference. Sony released a new lens this year (24mm f/1.4) and they gave it to me to test out before they released it so I could provide some photos for their marketing and social media campaigns. I went to one of my spots on the bay called Philippe Park and grabbed this one. I love these trees and the backlit glow they take on when the sun is coming up.
Florida Polytechnic College – I love the simplicity of this one. This is a newly built college in Lakeland, FL and I shot this one after Sony asked if I’d shoot with the new 24mm lens before it came out. Simple, but complex lines, blue, white and one little deliberate cloud on the left.
Zion National Park – My buddy Blake Rudis and I took a trip to Zion National Park to shoot this past summer. This one is from an overlook that has so much happening in it. So I decided to put my long lens on and focus in on where I thought the action was happening way off in the distance. We had a blast and I got some of my favorite photos of the year from that trip. I posted a bunch more in my trip recap if you’re interested in checking out that post as well.
Lake Tarpon, FL – I found this spot near my house and it’s not one of my favorite sunrise places to go. It’s right on a lake and I love the way the trees frame the photo and the great colors at sunrise.
Zion National Park – Another one from my Zion Trip. This storm rolled in late in the afternoon and made for some AMAZING light right at sunset. I love the dark clouds, that are contrasted with the light on the rocks from the side.
Zion National Park – Yep… another Zion shot. This one was on the hike out to the overlook point mentioned above. We stopped and saw some really nice color happening so we worked at it for a little while trying to make a shot from a bunch of random rocks and trees all around.
Zion National Park (The Narrows) – Blake and I took a day to hike the Narrows in Zion. Man was it beautiful. At first you wonder if this is really gonna take all day. Then you walk for about 30 minutes, and realize that you only made it a very short distance because you were shooting the whole time. THEN you realize how it’s going to take you all day 😉
Zion National Park – Another one from the Narrows. There’s a lot of photos where you do super long exposures. But I liked this one because most of the rocks were visible and lead right into that pretty golden light off in the middle of the frame. Who ever said dead center is dead wrong in composition rulebook? As you already know… every rule is made to be broken 😉
Fort Desote Park / Sunshine Skyway – I’ve been after this shot for years. Twice a year, for about 1 weeks each time, the sun comes up right in the middle of the towers on the Sunshine Skyway bridge connecting two key areas in Tampa bay. Funny thing about this photo is that you can see a faint layer of clouds right below the sun. I got there for sunrise, and saw nothing. The sun was behind clouds which is really a bummer when the sun is the absolute key to making the photo you came for. But, as you can see, it came out of the clouds at just the right moment 🙂
Some Random Field in Tahoe – I don’t know what it is about this photo. I saw it while driving along Lake Tahoe one morning. I love the shadowed trees in the background and how the light backlit everything in the foreground. The contrast was dramatic so I pulled over and stuck my camera out of the window to grab this one.
Sand Harbor / Lake Tahoe – A light layer of fresh snow coated the ground in Sand Harbor one morning. The sun was still in the clouds and never really came through, but it did show a bit of color. And with a little post processing magic, it ended up showing a lot of color 😉
These are dynamite photos. I especially like Zion National Park with the approaching storm. Was this unworldly photo actually taken by a NASA space probe during a close encounter with one of Saturn’s moons? BTW, what do you do with most of your photo masterpieces? Do you hang enlarged prints around your home, or burn BluRay slideshows to show friends and family, or mostly look at them on your computer monitor and use some for teaching videos?
I love these favourites so much, at the moment the temp has been in the 40,s for a few days ,I am
looking at the ones with water they are so real, I am feeling I am in them. Gorgeous .
Like them all, but in my humble opinion, Sand Harbor is the “killer.” image!
That Sand Harbor / Lake Tahoe photo is like a painting, you’d get a gold star from Bob Ross if he saw it.
I like the serene feeling and dreamy look. If you make that fit an entire wall, it would be spectacular.
As always, your photos are inspiring and just plain fabulous! I’ve been following you and learning from you for many years (also since your days with Scott Kelby) and you are one of the very few whom I purchase photography courses from…I love your teaching style and your down-to-reality way of showing and explaining things. Thank you so much for all you’ve helped me with over the years and I’m excited to do Fresh Start with you!
Fantastic images especially love the backlighted ones. Hope to be able to get some good compositions this year.
Fabulous images! Too hard to pick a particular favorite; they’re all moving. Participated in a lightroom seminar you presented in Hartford, CT a while back. A big help for an old film shooter just getting into digital. Not sure if this is the right forum for “Best of 2018” but I put together some images in a Google album if anyone is interested: https://photos.app.goo.gl/UzQRD8Ybn9MGunpf7
Have a Squarespace site but it needs to be updated.
Looking forward to the next 6 weeks!
Enjoyed your gallery! Sunset with crashing waves is amazing!
Hope you keep it up!
WOW! some awesome images there Matt, thank you for sharing them! Not sure which to use for free websites that can take large amount of images.
I forgot to mention that your favorites from 2018 are wonderful. Also, I have followed you since the days you began at Kelby, and had the opportunity to talk with you at one of the Photoshop World events. Your teaching style is very good for me, and I have learned a great deal from you. Thanks for what you do.
I just shut down my website which supported two Meetup Groups I had organized. However, I think It would be a good idea to have a site to share with other Fresh Starters and you. I notice Robert Kanee in the comment above mine is going Smug Mug. Would you recommend that above others, or do you have another favorite to suggest.
Hi Jim. We have a dedicated week during Fresh Start for this so I don’t want to jump ahead too far. SmugMug is good but I think there’s better ones which I’ll cover that week. Thanks!
Great idea; I intend to build a SmugMug page as part of our Fresh Start programme. Continued success in 2019, love your training and videos. Are you planning any photo tours in 2019 and 2020? Love to be part of a Photo Tours led by you in the desert in any one of or more of the four corner states. Thanks again for your insights and enthusiasm. Robert K.
Hi Matt, Your photo’s are what I am aiming to achieve, I look at them and see a story behind them, you capture the light and the colour and place your subject in a way that works and i guess there are thousands of photo’s and years of experience behind them! I have a very different Landscape here in Australia which you will get to see my perspective. would love some feedback , the photo’s in my website are all this last year 2018. Look forward to hearing from you all. Merrick.
I love your favorite photos, particularly those made in Zion National Park. Zion is in the top 5 of places I love to make landscapes.