The past twelve months have made for another amazing year for my photography. I am very lucky to be able to do what I do. This is the time of year when everybody does a bit of reflecting on the past year, and I enjoy doing the same.
2022 was the second year of owning my own gallery, and the store has been a huge success in its first two seasons. It’s really great to have a place to display my work seven days a week in the summertime.
This summer, I also made a return to art fairs! This was the first summer since 2019 that I set up my booth. 2020 shut down all fairs, and 2021 was the first season of my store, so I didn’t set up either of those two seasons. But this year, I was at the Fine Art Fair in Sturgeon Bay during Memorial Day weekend, and it was SO much fun to get the booth out there and see so many faces that I missed over the years. I also returned to the 4th of July festival in Baileys Harbor. That has always been my favorite weekend in Door County, so it was great to get set up in the town where I first started offering my work for sale.
Speaking of Baileys Harbor, my wife, daughter, and I moved to Baileys Harbor this year! Making the sometimes multiple daily treks between Sturgeon Bay and Baileys Harbor became too taxing on me. This has been a dream of ours for a while, so it made sense to move closer to the gallery and to where the majority of my work is. Though I still love Sturgeon Bay and always will!
I was also fortunate enough to travel out in the world with my camera! In February, I attended WPPI in Las Vegas. WPPI is a wedding and portrait industry conference. This may be a surprise to some of you, but in addition to my landscape work, I am also an experienced wedding and portrait photographer! I love landscape photography, and I love wedding photography just as much! They are so different from each other and allow me to be creative in very different ways. If you are interested in seeing some of that work, I also made a post for my top wedding photos of the year.
At the conference, I was able to spend four days attending classes and workshops from some of the best photographers in the world. I left that show extremely motivated with new ideas. When I shot my first wedding after the trip, I could tell that my style was affected in a good way. The creativity in my photos and the quality of my work had gone up big time!
After those four days in Vegas, a town I was more than happy to leave, I headed into the desert to spend a week in Death Valley National Park. What a place that park is to experience! It’s such a unique area with a lot to offer photographers. I had a great time hiking out into the salt flats and canyons, but my favorite feature of the park was the dune fields. I absolutely loved hiking the dunes, and I can understand why so many photographers spend a lot of time there. They are such a great feature where the landscape and light are ever-changing. You can spend hours playing with compositions there. I also traveled out of the park a bit and explored the western areas of the park all the way to the Alabama Hills at the edge of the Sierra Nevada mountains. That’s an area I want to see more of!
Probably my favorite experience ever as a landscape photographer was out in those dune fields. Toward the end of the trip, I wanted to capture some night sky photos in the dunes. The entire trip was extremely windy, so when the winds finally calmed, I took that opportunity to capture some of the darkest skies in the world (even darker than Newport State Park). I woke up at 1:00 am, and by 2:00 am, I was hiking into the dunes. There were a couple of other photographers with the same idea, but after a bit of hiking, I was all alone. Nothing around but me and my camera with 700′ tall dunes all around. And millions of stars above my head. I set up my tripod on top of one of the dunes and sat down. I took a few photos, some of them are below, but what I enjoyed most about that experience was sitting there and looking at the stars. I sat out there for hours before the dawn brightened the sky. It was so quiet and peaceful, which is a beautiful and rare thing in this world.
In October, after the busy season subsided, I took another trip out to my favorite place in the world. The Colorado Rocky Mountains. The summer season is a stressful and busy one, so it was nice to get away for about five days. I rented a campervan in Denver and drove up to Rocky Mountain National Park. I’ve visited this park before, but there was still so much of it I wanted to explore. It was great to have the opportunity to check out some new (to me) hiking trails that I had never had time for in the past. I also headed over the continental divide to what has become my favorite town out there, Grand Lake. It was a quick trip, but I was lucky to have had some of the most favorable conditions for photos! Every single morning and evening provided opportunities for epic images. I didn’t get skunked with blue skies once! A dream for a photographer on a trip!
Other than my two trips, 2022 was not an overly productive year for my landscape photography. I was able to capture some really neat images from Door County, but most of my energy was focused on capturing epic wedding photos for my clients. For that reason, many of my favorite images of 2022 are from California and Colorado.
Without further ado, I feel like I’ve rambled a bit too long; here are my top photos from 2022!
Through the Bridge
Last year the SS Badger was in Sturgeon Bay to get some work done. As she left town, many people headed to the waterfront to watch her leave. I sent my drone up for a few shots. This photo is of the Badger as she navigated through the Oregon Street Bridge in downtown Sturgeon Bay.
My first day in Death Valley National Park ended with a memorable sunset. Of course, the first day of my first trip to the park had to end with a visit to the lowest point in North America. Badwater Basin did not disappoint! And neither did the show in the sky that evening!
The sand dunes were very fun to explore. I loved this composition, where I placed my camera very low next to some footprints with the dune field in the background. The great afternoon light really tied the photo together.
The morning I took this shot was one of the most beautiful mornings I have ever seen. As I hiked into the salt flats, the morning started out quite grey and lifeless. However, I noticed a break in the clouds near the horizon, so I knew there was a chance of something special. Sure enough, enough light broke through the clouds to bring out some spectacular colors.
I took a break from the salt and dust of Death Valley to explore a bit of the Alabama Hills. The Alabama Hills are a place in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada that I’ve heard much about. Since I was so close, only about 2 hours or so, I thought I would make the drive for an evening. It was a pretty cool spot, and I’d like to explore more as I didn’t get any shots I am super excited about.
As I drove west from Death Valley, I began to see Joshua Trees dotting the landscape. I thought it would be a great spot for some photos, so I got up early the next morning to check them out under the stars. I slept in a bit late to get any Milky Way photos, but I was able to capture the early twilight and the last stars of the evening.
Morning on the Plateu
This photo was taken about an hour after the previous photo. As the morning sun rose, I hiked out into the Joshua Trees to explore a bit more. These trees are so unique that I knew there were more opportunities for compositions that morning. I love how the morning sun lit up the landscape.
Dunes at Night
This is one of the images resulting from the night I spend in the sand dunes. I was sitting on top of a tall dune with the camera pointed skyward. It was such a beautiful evening and one that I will never forget.
Walking through the sand dunes is such an interesting experience at dawn and dusk. As the sun rises and sets, the light is ever-changing and ever-reacting with the landscape. It does some very interesting things and this photo shows it!
This is likely my favorite photo from 2022.
Spring in Door County, Wisconsin, is a gorgeous time of year. After a really long winter, it was great to see the landscape come back to life! Cherry blossoms start to pop in May, and I love shooting that event each year. But I think I am beginning to love shooting forget-me-nots even more! While technically an invasive species not native to Door County, they sure are beautiful when they cover the forests. This year I captured one of my favorite forget-me-not photos.
Calm Before the Storm
Anderson Dock is a favorite subject of mine. Every time I go there to take photos, I try to find a new composition that I haven’t done or seen before. Last May I was able to visit before the tourist rush began and had the place mostly to myself during sunset. Something that does not happen often.
Bursts over the Bay
Anyone who follows my work knows that I love fireworks and taking photos of fireworks. Lucky for me, Door County is a little obsessed with fireworks, and we’ll shoot them off for literally any occasion, and that’s a good thing! In recent years, I began shooting them from an aerial perspective using my drone. I love the unique views you can get! In this shot, the lingering light from sunset created an amazing setting for these fireworks over Sister Bay.
The first morning of my October trip to Rocky Mountain National Park was a memorable one. I arrived in to Denver the night before, very late the night before, but that didn’t stop me from driving up to the mountains to catch the sunrise. After a long season working in Door County and dealing with all the stresses that go with it, it was therapeutic to breathe in mountain air again. That’s why I love this photo so much. Not so much for the photo itself but the feeling I had when I was shooting it.
Glow of the Divide
I love the mountains, and this particular view of mountains is definitely one of my favorites. The continental divide towers over the lower areas of the Rocky Mountain National Park and, on the right morning, can catch the light with a beautiful alpenglow. This is they type of sunrise dreams are made of!
Blizzard on the Divide
A few days after I arrived in Colorado, a heavy storm system moved into the area. The storm dropped a lot of snow in the mountains. Enough to close Trail Ridge Road for the season. After ensuring it would be safe and while taking all necessary precautions, I hiked into the alpine a bit as the storm set in, and it was as the snow fell over the mountain lakes and streams. For most of the rest of the trip, the storm settled in over the continental divide and hung over it. During sunset one evening, just enough light made it through the storm to bring some beautiful color and drama to the scene.
After the storm cleared, I went back up to shoot sunrise. This shot is from Bear Lake, an extremely accessible lake in the park only minutes from the parking area. However, I have never really explored this lake. So I took one of my last mornings to take a little winter walk around the lake.
House Among the Frost
I am always looking for a new way to shoot familiar spots, especially in Door County. After an early-season snowstorm blanketed Door County with a beautiful layer of snow, I sent the drone above the Ridges Sanctuary in Baileys Harbor. I love this shot because of its uniqueness and how it shows the upper-range light among snow-covered trees from a perspective not often seen.