Reflecting on the past 12 months photographically is one of the things look forward to doing this time of year. Reviewing what I did helps me get perspective of what I have experienced and achieved. Realizing where I have changed and what I would do differently for the upcoming year. 2021 may not have been as disruptive as it’s predecessor, but it was by no means a normal year. Yes, I did do more work, traveled a bit more, but it still felt a bit more subdued than normal. There were plenty of great experiences as you will see below. Here are my 10 favorite photos of 2021 in no particular order. If you wish to just see the photo gallery click here.
Sunset in the Clouds, Tehachapi
In a way this photo feels like a last hurrah for 2021. This was a last minute addition to my favorites of the year. Originally I had planned to finish this post before New Year’s Day but my week got busier than I was hoping. Part of that busy-ness last week going up to Tehachapi to visit family to celebrate Christmas/New Years. We were hoping to experience some snow from our rather wet December in California. However it wasn’t meant to be, the storm that passed through on Thursday last week was much warmer and washed away most of the remaining snow in Tehachapi. What we did see when we arrived was an inversion layer rolling in from the San Joaquin Valley and that made for this spectacular sunset. I am grateful for the serendipity of last week giving me the chance add this photo to this list.
Twisted Live Oak
Whenever I come across a uniquely shaped tree I always wonder, what on earth made it grow in that shape? But I think this one takes the cake. It would have been fascinating to see what made this tree contort so much as it grew.
Morning Reflections, Long Lake
One of my favorite highlights of the year was taking my oldest two girls on their first backpack which just so happened to be in one of my favorite places to travel, the Eastern Sierra Nevada. My brother and brother-in-law came too with their daughters. We all got to wake up to views like this one above. I’m sure this will be the first of many such trips.
Eastern Sierra Sunrise
I had been wanting to revisit this view for some time. This past winter it worked out to take in a sunrise from this spectacular view of the Eastern Sierra Nevada. I was hoping for more dramatic clouds but the thin veil of clouds is definitely a unique look.
Telegraph Canyon, Chino Hills State Park
After a dry winter in So Cal I went on a hike in nearby hills after an early spring shower and got this unique view. The hills reminded me of an awkward adolescent bird that hasn’t quite shed its baby down feathers.
Sunset at Colter Bay, Grand Teton NP
This was by far my most popular photo, winning an honorable mention in AAA WestWay’s photo contest. The funny thing is it was taken on my iPhone 7 that was on it’s last legs. I stumbled on this shot while at the nearby general store getting ice for my cooler. It was just one of those impromptu moments where I was at the right place at the right time.
Dichotomy, Bristlecone Tree
This past winter on my trip up Highway 395 I was both delighted and disheartened to find out I was able to drive up to the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest in early March. Glad that I was able to visit them on my trip, but saddened to know that our California winter was so dry that the snow on the White Mountains was mostly gone. Regardless I was grateful to take in this beauty.
White Rim Canyon at Sunset, Canyonlands National Park
Another highlight of the year was our big summer trip through the western US. It was more of a family trip but I was able to show my girls some beautiful places in between. On the way out to Colorado my girls and I had a stop over in Moab. This was their first time seeing the beauty of Canyonlands and Arches which didn’t disappoint.
Sea Cave, Crystal Cove State Park
One of the fun byproducts from the past two years has been the added opportunities to be outdoors locally with my girls. A favorite themed outing my girls and I have been doing is looking for sea caves at our local beaches in Southern California. This one in Crystal Cove was by far our favorite to explore so far.
By far my most personal piece this year. I wrote about it back at Thanksgiving. The confluence of discovering these trees and the resonance of the composition with the grieving loss during the holidays created one of my most vulnerable pieces of 2021.
I hope you have enjoyed this recap of my best photos of 2021. I would love to hear what your favorites! I also posted my favorite photos I rediscovered in 2021 from my back catalog of work. Here’s my past recaps: 2020 | 2019 | 2018 | 2017 | 2016 | 2015
As far what I expect 2022 to bring? I’m not entirely sure. I do have some vague plans on trips and personal projects, but nothing firmly set. I would like to do more personal video work like I did last winter, but finding the time to do those can be challenging.
Thank you for taking the time to see a bit of my 2021, I’m looking forward to sharing more in 2022!
Beautiful work, Caleb. I love the Twisted Oak and Sea Cave images! I didn’t know that Crystal Cove had these neat layered rocks too (I really liked them at Montaña De Oro). Thanks for sharing & all the best for 2022!
Thanks! Yeah I didn’t expect the layers to be so pronounced at Crystal Cove, it was a pleasant surprise. Thanks for the comment!