2020 was brutal. Between startup stress, lockdown isolation, existential dread, threats to democracy and political drama, murder hornets, smoky air and avoiding the global pandemic, 2020 was an overwhelming year. Still I have to be grateful to have reached the end of it healthy and able to do the things I love. I’ve blogged and read more. Even if it’s only through Zoom, Whatsapp or Twitter I’ve stayed connected with the people that really matter.

Throughout 2020 it was photography that really provided the outlet which kept me anchored through it all. Instead of writing a bunch of resolutions for 2021 I thought it would be good to review my year in photography and what made it special for me this year.

Shooting

I shot a lot of pictures.Thanks to a virtual workshop at PCNW I tried my hand at still life photography for the first time. It was a good creative challenge early in the pandemic when we were all still so unsure of what the lockdowns would mean or how long it would all last. Looking at my Lightroom catalog there are over 4400 images in my 2020 folder even that’s after renewed intention to more aggressively edit my work.

Over half of those photos were shot on film, despite thinking early in the year I’d shoot more digital to save money and avoid going into the lab. That’s also not counting the 12 rolls just dropped off at the lab and 15 exposed but still waiting in the bag. Film is a hell of a drug.

a bag full of potential keepers

Working from home with easy access to KEH and eBay meant my camera collection grew. Starting with dipping my toe into medium format film cameras, my love for great lenses meant I swapped my Zeiss ZF.2 (Nikon F mount) and Loxia (Sony FE) for a 35mm Contax RX SLR, Contax/Yashica Carl Zeiss lenses and Contax G1 rangefinder. The collection shrank further when I sold my Leica R5, Sony a7RIII and Sony lenses.

Unfortunately the Nikon FM2 that accompanied me on the Camino bit the dust thanks to a cracked lens mount. It survived the trek across Spain’s rocky trails but fell victim to a clumsy drop on a concrete floor in the basement. It was replaced by the Nikon F4, a classic beast.

From all that equipment and photos I generated about 150 photos each for Instagram and Flickr. Looking back through them there are fewer street photos and many more flower macros and selfies than in previous years. However my most popular Flickr photo of 2020 was a street photography shot.

delicate
taken with the Nikon F4 on Ilford FP4 B&W film
petals
taken with the Nikon F4 on Ilford FP4 B&W film

Isolated at home, avoiding going out except for walks and essential trips, made the world pretty small and that was reflected by the prominence of macrophotography in my Flickr and Instagram posts.

brilliant
taken with the Nikon Df and Nikkor AF 24-85 Macro zoom

Writing

I published to this site a lot more this year with over 120 posts. Many of those were republished photos from Instagram though I’ve recently discovered many of those older links are broken. Early in the year I was so busy with the startup and adjusting to the new reality of COVID isolation that I struggled to make time to post. In the second half of the year my frequency improved as I dipped my toe into writing about lenses and cameras, and hope to do a lot more of that kind of writing in 2021.

The writing highlight of 2020 was having a short “5 Frames With” post accepted by Emulsive and posted in earlier this month. I’ve already thought about writing another 5 Frames on my film photos from the Camino and, when I finally get the images back from the lab, some 30 year old expired film I shot back in December.

Posting frequency didn’t convert to more visitors. I had slightly fewer in 2020 than in 2019 which I attribute to interest in my 2019 Camino trip posts which were promoted by Geekwire. I hope that being more active and engaging with other writers will both improve my work and lead to more engagement by others.

Reading

I read a lot about photography in 2020. Online I followed a lot of new bloggers or photographers on IG and Flickr.

With books I spent more time looking at images and diving into photobooks than reading about equipment or techniques. I was lucky enough to be gifted two books by Gus Powell including Family Car Trouble, which really impacted me for its beauty and intimacy.

Leaning Into 2021

I’m committed to growing my photography practice this year. There’s still a big bag of 2020 exposed film waiting to be developed, edited and shared. Stepping back from eBay and streamling my camera and lens collection will give me a more consistent experience between my Nikon F4 and a Nikon Df. To shoot film and digital with the same lenses and common camera “feel” was worth giving up more sensor resolution and the smaller mirrorless camera. (more on the Df soon)

Now I am looking forward to challenging myself with new boundaries. For example I’m only shooting black and white film through January to take advantage of the Pacific Northwest’s grey winter days.

There are lots of exciting opportunities — photographic, professional and personal — ahead of us. I hope we can all continue to stay safe, healthy and sane in this new year.

Published by Steve Banfield

Kentucky born, Seattle based. Entrepreneur. Team Builder. Photographer.

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