Normally I publish a series of photos as my year end synopsis, but this year most of my hard drives are in the hands of an MIA computer repairman so I’m missing a massive block of this year’s photos. So instead I’m going to flex my literary muscles, tendons and synapses.

2017 on a personal level has been a rather epic year of transformation. The year had barely begun when I found out that my beloved workplace Adolph Gasser Photography would be closing. I worked there for most of my time in San Francisco and it was a real fixture and institution in the city. I really enjoyed working there, even if it was in many ways behind the times and a relic of times gone by. Maybe that’s part of what I liked about it. It had a lived in feel and a clientele as quirky as they come. Working through the liquidation was a fascinating experience, from the initial rush of bargain hunters to the silent days in a mostly empty store, exchanging stories as ghosts whisked through shelves.

Around the same time as I learned that the store was closing I got a call from the photographer Eric Pare to see if I was interested in joining his Xangle team in Madrid, Spain to help build and run his 360 degree light painting bullet time rig. The day that Gassers closed I brought a suitcase with me and set flight for Europe for the first time. It was an amazing experience with a wonderful team and it really helped me to feel like everything was going to be okay. A few weeks later we did it again in Macau, China and again, I saw what could happen if you applied yourself in the industry, and maybe had the right luck at the right time.

From then on out I was as busy as I could handle. I did a lot of architectural/Real Estate photography this year. Its not the most artistically thrilling work, but it certainly pays the bills and every shoot improves my skills, my eye, my knowledge of my equipment. Even when I foolishly left my camera on the tripod next to a door which then got knocked to the ground and broke the lens was a learning experience that I handled with a cheap rental and a quick mailing to the Canon service center. It was fine.

In August Stella and I flew to Ohio to visit her family, but also to witness the total solar eclipse. That was certainly a highlight of the year. We drove to an athletic park in a small town in Kentucky. We sat under a tree with our eclipse glasses and watched as the sun shrunk, eaten up by an invisible moon until… until everything came to a stop, stillness filled the air and we saw something truly magical. I immediately started planning for the next one.

I kept working after we returned, and I kept worrying about money until the moment Stella as I were seated on a plane, bound for London, England. Once we were in the air all my fears evaporated and I was thrilled to be on a real vacation. I could write a million things about our European wedding anniversary vacation. We fought, we laughed, we walked, we cried, we ate, we drank. It was wonderful. We really deepened our relationship and we saw and experienced so many things, yet let so many things undone. London, Cornwall, Berlin, Toulouse, Paris and Dublin. It all happened so fast, and I can’t wait to go back again.

As 2017 has concluded I’ve just kept working and working. What seemed like it might be a difficult financial time at the beginning of the year turned into something that feels really really good. We had numerous amazing experiences that will be with us for a lifetime, and now we’re preparing for our next chapter.

2018 also holds a lot of new things on the horizon. Like I was nervous before boarding those flights I’m nervous now on the precipice of a new year. What will happen? Am I ready? What do I want?

I know that I want more experiences like I had in 2017. I don’t want to live in scarcity anymore. I want love and adventure, and I’m sure to get it. I want to create more art and to challenge myself more, emotionally, intellectually and in all the other ways that make me feel alive. I feel like I spent much of the past few years just surviving, doing what I had to do more often than what I wanted to do. In 2018 I feel like things will continue to re-balance. My life is more than paying bills and doing “what needs to get done.” I’m excited for the journey, both inner and outer that’s to come.

Here’s to a new year.

Social Media

Many of you have seen the recent articles about former facebook exec Chamath Palihapitiya expressing regret and concern about the effects of social media on society. I’ve been feeling the same way lately. I’ve noticed myself getting angry & depressed after spending time on facebook lately, as well as seeing the way that it can make me spiteful and argumentative. As I scroll through my feed or look at my notifications 90% of it either bores or annoys me. I don’t really get much value out of it anymore and this is not what I want to spend my spare time doing.

A couple of years ago I took a month off from facebook, and overall it was great. Sure I missed a few things, but surprisingly little, and I think I more than made up for it with my own self-directed discoveries and activities. When I was on vacation this autumn I barely logged in and didn’t feel like I was missing anything. I think its time to do that again, but this time for much longer. Maybe the whole of 2018.

Because facebook has become such a portal, such an aggregator of what’s going on out there I’m going to be a bit more strategic about this longer sabbatical. I’m going to return to using a feed aggregator to bring me updates from my favourite websites and blogs. I’m going to judiciously subscribe to email lists of people and organizations that I like. I’m also going to pay more attention to posting on this blog and my flickr stream, so that if anyone out there wants to know what’s going on with me they’ll have an easy way to stay abreast of what I’m doing.

Not being on social media means having to make more conscious, concerted effort to stay in touch with people. This is a two way street. If I call you or send you an email I really hope that you pick up or write back. Likewise if you reach out to me I’m going to try my best to get back to you in a timely manner. Social connections are a social skill, they require work, let’s put some effort into this.

I plan to go dark on facebook on New Year’s Eve. That means there are a couple of weeks to exchange emails, phone numbers, snail mail addresses, etc. I hope to see you soon in the “real world.”