2016 was a remarkable year, to say the very least. Not only on a national and global level, with events like Trump's unprecedented election victory, Russian hacks, and the Syrian war, but it was remarkable for me personally.
My wife was diagnosed with cancer late last year, so much of the early part of this year was dedicated to her recovery. Happily, she's healthy and cancer-free now, and she'll just have to be vigilant about getting checkups regularly to make sure she stays that way.
Aside from that, we took quite a few trips this year—some smaller trips to visit family and friends in Concord, New Hampshire and Atlanta; and some bigger trips like the one we took to China to celebrate our 10th anniversary. We also did an epic 9-day road trip through Upstate New York and Niagara falls with our nieces Gigi and Leila. It was a great way to experience New York (although I still have much of the state to see), as well as a fun way to spend time with our nieces as they grow into young ladies.
Overall, I'd say it was a good year for me. Professionally, I think I need to get really introspective and answer some questions about where my career development should be headed. As a photographer, I think I need to continue to push myself to make better images, and to keep working to refine my creative voice.
I had fun looking back over the past year while making my selects for this post, and in spite of the challenges that we face with Trump's administration, I feel optimistic about the year ahead.
Happy New Year!
Winter Storm Jonas
During winter storm Jonas, the first major snowstorm of 2016, I wandered around the Prospect-Lefferts area a little. It was a little surreal walking down the middle of Flatbush Avenue, which is ordinarily jammed full of dollar vans and other traffic, and is generally pretty perilous for pedestrians.
I was riding my bike home, and just had to stop to make a few shots of the West Indian guys playing soccer at the Parade Grounds, right next to Prospect Park. I ended up not being exactly thrilled with the shots, but decided to post this one on Flickr anyway. Wouldn't you know, Apple's media agency contacted me, and expressed interest in using this image for a campaign. This was the second time I've been contacted by them–and for the second time, I didn't have a model release for my image. Lesson learned.
I was having a few drinks with friends, and decided to do a series that captured the bar scene. I wanted the images to have a sort of sloppy, mysterious feel to them - like we are voyeurs, catching a glimpse of something we shouldn't be seeing.
We took a drive up to visit Stephanie's sister and her husband in New Hampshire so that Eva - short for Evangeline - could her Auntie Stephanie for the first time.
Our first views of the skies over Beijing after 13-plus hours of flying
Dancers at Xingqinggong Park
Our itinerary in China included a stop that sounded really boring, but turned out to be one of our favorite expreiences of the whole trip. We stopped to hang out with some retirees at a park in Xi'an as they exercised, practiced tai-chi, danced and socialized with friends. Everything is sponsored by the Chinese Government, and it made us wonder why on earth we don't encourage the same sorts of activities for our senior citizens here in the US.
Shanghai was my favorite of the cities we visited in China, and I wish I had had more time to explore on my own. This image is from a short cruise we took on the Huangpu River, along The Bund.
There's a Charging Bull sculpture on The Bund that's made by the same artist as the one that's on Wall Street.
I've taken many portraits of my old friend Seldon, mostly as part of the work I've been doing with Finer Fields (fka FortyTwo). This one is one of my favorites.
Red and Black
Serendiptiy at play in this image, for sure.
I keep hearing about our crumbling infrastructure. I think people must be talking about the subway, because I really feel like I experienced more delays, service disruptions, and crowded trains this year.
I was by the Brooklyn waterfront in DUMBO, which is always a photogenic place to be. The lighting was on point for silhouettes of buildings and people.
Up and Over
I went for a bike ride, with no real destination in mind, and ended up at Coney Island. The sky was a perfect blue, which contrasts beautifully with the orange of the roller coaster tracks. I spent a good amount of time watching people ride this coaster to end up with this shot.
Gigi and Leila
We pulled up to Chimney Bluffs State Park, on the border of Lake Ontario, right as the sun was about to set. I love this image of my nieces Gigi and Leila running around being kids, because Gigi just turned 15, and I think spontaneous moments like this one are going to come to an end soon as she starts being more "grown-up".
From Droga5's epic 10th-anniversary bash on Governor's Island. I'm still mad at myself for not having gone up on stage to rock to Protect Ya Neck with him.
This was a brutally long night of fights (Dante's fight didn't start until almost 1am), but it was worth it. Go Dante.
I think I found that perfect moment when the artfifical lights and ambient light balance each other out just right.
Tribute in Lights
I biked over to Louis Valentino Park for this shot of the Tribute in Lights. I like the juxtaposition of the beam of lights next to the new 1WTC building.
Adweek Wrap Party featuring The Roots
I love shooting at concerts and performances, and my little Fuji X100S handles the unpredictable lighting like a champ. I think this is a good image for a lot of reasons; the cherry on top is that Black Thought himself gave it a like on Instagram.
After the Roots' performance at AdWeek, we went downstairs to the hip-hop room. I haven't been "in da club" in ages, but the vibe took me back to my old party days immediately. There's a lot going on here - a little sensuality, some testosterone, some boredom, maybe... this is a fun image.
The building is controversial, but definitely photogenic.
We Love You
Black men in America had a rough 2016. Photographer Byron Summers' We Love You Project was a beautiful series of portraits in response to the images we have been bombarded with (mugshots, corpses, etc.), and I really enjoyed when he came to Droga5 to talk about his work, and do a little mini shoot. Castro (left) brought in his son to be a part of the shoot.
I got myself an iPhone 7, and have been kind of obsessively putting its low-light performance to the test. So far, it hasn't disappointed me.
I'm still deeply disappointed and shocked by the results of the election. This post at DeKalb avenue became kind of a bulletin board, gradually accumulating more and more expressions of peoples' thoughts in the weeks after the election. It's been painted over, last I saw.
Another image in my series of low-light iPhone 7 experiments. Other than the black-and-white conversion, I didn't do anything to this - no sharpening, nothing.
Between Two Bridges
I was riding my bike home from work and stopped to shoot a couple of long-exposure images along the FDR Drive bike path. Coincidentally, it's shot from almost the same location as the one from last year's wrap-up.
I made this image while I was visiting my mom and sister in the DC area. We took a little drive to check out the National Christmas Tree, and take one last peek at the White House before its new occupant moves in.
Do the Right Thing
This seemed like a good image to end my 2016 wrap-up with.