We all know that photography is so much more than light falling onto a photosensitive surface. It is a documentation tool used to visually record our rapidly changing climate. It has the ability to introduce anyone to world leaders and grants us insider access to communities we otherwise wouldn’t engage with or even be aware of. In simplest terms, it freezes time, which in turn allows us to relive that championship win or a political uprise. It also reminds us of the vastness of human struggle and suffering. We love photography because it captures the power of a moment. It connects us and here at PhotoShelter we are dedicated to honoring that connection.
To celebrate the year coming to a close, we’re looking back at the work of some incredible photographers and PhotoShelter members. We asked what projects they were most proud of in 2019 and what they’re looking forward to accomplishing in 2020. And boy did they deliver.
Cover Image by Zay Yar Lin.
Hurricane Barry, the only hurricane to hit Louisiana this year, threatened to bring heavy downpours that were predicted to have devastating impacts on communities along the Mississippi River. I went out to the Isle de Jean Charles when the water was low enough to drive to it via Island Road, the only road to and from the Island.
The media, poised to cover the storm, by that time had moved on. As storms go, this was a “nothing burger,” so I found myself the only photojournalist on the island. The Isle de Jean Charles has been greatly impacted by land loss due to sea level rise brought about in part by climate change,. My last frame of that day, of two men fishing along Isle road, still submerged in water captures the fragility of life on earth as humankind, for the most part, ignores climate change.
Plans for 2020: I will continue documenting the growing industrial landscape, those fighting against it, and the impacts of climate change. Climate change is the story of our time since it affects everything, and despite dire warnings from the scientific community, humankind continues to move in the wrong direction to stop the worst impacts of global warming.
I’m proud of this image because I took it during an ADV assignment for a client of mine. They wanted exactly what is in the shot: blue sky, the splash of snow, super dynamic action… I asked for the skier, who is a great friend of mine, to pass me up close while turning. Well, he passed way too close and scared me a little bit but I trusted his skills as a skier (…and friend…). I was shooting in Manual focus because the action was too close and fast. Really happy with the results and the client was happy too.
Plans for 2020: I will be covering the whole FIS Alpine Ski World Cup circuit for Pentaphoto and Associated Press. I have a new project that really excites me, too: I will hold a sports photography workshop in Torino, my hometown. That is going to be the beginning of something new!
I went to Kenya for a 15 day safari by myself. I had met my guide through a friend (online) and we corresponded for a year. It was a very bold move and turned out to be the single most life-altering thing I have ever done. It was me and my guide all day every day. No one else with us. We covered 3000 miles and I am still reeling from the experience. The leopards were little brothers and I stayed with them, followed them and watched. When they went up in the air, I held my breath and hoped they were in focus. It was on my very first day of safari and I wasn’t sure about my settings and the light but it turned out ok!
Plans for 2020: I am retiring from my job after 30 years and have big trips planned. The British Virgin Islands, Jordan and Italy are the big ones and I’m so excited about this part of my life I’m about to start!
This is Brooks Koepka on his way to winning the PGA Championship at Bethpage Black in May. I think this picture is a good representation of the absolutely crazy atmosphere of this year’s championship… the crowds, the kind of smash-mouth, in-your-face style Koepka has on the course, and of course, the awestruck admiration that the average golfer and/or fan has for Koepka’s talents. Following Koepka around for Sunday’s final round, I can only describe the scene as a zoo, and I think this image captures that.
Plans for 2020: I’m excited to continue my relationship with the United States Golf Association, PGA of America, and United States Tennis Association as a photographer on their major championship teams. I started a personal project on Charreria, a form of rodeo, a couple years back that I’ve just been too busy lately to pursue and I’m looking forward to devoting some time to that again. And I’m certainly not going to stop looking for new barbecue joints. But what I’m most looking forward to is finding out what unexpected new clients or opportunities will present themselves next year.
The head rhino keeper Zacharia Mutai sits with Najin, one of the last two northern white rhinos on the planet at Ol Pejeta Conservancy in northern Kenya. Najin, and her daughter Fatu, are cared for 24-hours per day, seven days a week by devoted keepers like Zacharia. These men spend more time with these precious rhinos than they do their own families. The bonds are deep and the keepers have a profound understanding of just how precious these last northern white rhinos are. These men have become some of the northern white rhinos closet friends and greatest advocates.
Plans for 2020: I am working on a feature film and a new book, as well as continuing to work on stories throughout the world where communities are finding solutions to our most pressing environmental issues and how we can reimagine a world where we coexist with wildlife and the diversity of natural habitats that exist today.
(You can learn more about Ami’s work with northern white rhinos in National Geographic.)
Frank Kuiack is the last remaining fishing guide in Algonquin Park, ON. He’s still guiding after over 70 years! I spent the day with him fishing and photographing him for my upcoming book as well as filming for a short documentary in partnership with Sigma Canada.
Plans for 2020: I’m extremely excited for 2020 as I reach the final stages of wrapping up a few key shoots for my book and sending the content off to the publisher in the fall. I’ll be planning a book launch for 2021 with many of my works printed large and hanging as promotional pieces and numerous book signings.
I’ve also got several portrait and landscape photography workshops planned around Canada, both solo and in partnership with supremely talented peers/friends. Several portrait workshops in the works will be announced for Ontario in the new year.
When I was in Sierra Leone, I had been using hashtags to find local sports teams that were women-focused on Instagram. The Mogwembo Queens were so enthusiastic and supportive of me pitching in and I wanted the images to bypass the assumptions people make about women in sports, especially in their context. I wanted them to feel part of a legacy of dynamic sports imagery, to show off their ability and fortitude. This was a tough shoot: it was incredibly hot, bright, and dusty, all of which pushed my equipment to its limit, but the team was ecstatic about the results.
Plans for 2020: In 2020 I’m taking time to assess how I can do my work without enforcing white supremacy, and make sure it is a tool that platforms people and ideas and not myself so much. A lot of that is handing my space over to the talent that lives in-country on the continent, and supporting them when it is asked for. We also live in a very exciting, frightening time for the political and actual climate, so I want to find how I can use my work to support progress and action in a positive way that helps people feel part of the solution.
I also want to explore how I can use print more to present images so that the way people interact with them goes beyond the immediate consumption of digital. I’m going to be exploring books and prints and hope that can bring me back to some of the reasons I fell in love with photography as a teenager.
For me, in 2019 this picture definitely challenged my understanding of photographing liquids, helping me to grow. I have other spectacular shots of liquids, photographed since 2017, but this smoothie was a challenge. I had to experiment with the shape of the splash by throwing different objects inside of the glass, and the end result depended a lot on the weight and the shape of the object. I will keep this experience as one of the most memorable moments of my photographic career.
Plans for 2020: For the next year my first challenge will be to perfect my skills. This year I published my work with Production Paradise and I’m very happy about that. It pushes me to be more creative and to try and understand more customers’ needs. That’s my priority for next year. More exhibitions, too, for sure.
This photo was taken during my outer Mongolia trip last October. We were lucky to be there during full moon days and I waited for hours near the hill, eventually getting this lovely and perfect shot.
Plans for 2020: I will be going to Ethiopia in January 2020 for the first time. I’m really excited to go to Africa as I’ve never been there before. Ethiopia is a very interesting place for photographing portraits. I’ll be conducting photo tours in Myanmar and abroad in 2020. I’m still planning for future exhibitions.
Be sure to follow us on Instagram to see other amazing photos taken by PhotoShelter members in 2019. What photo or project are you most proud of this year? Have anything exciting planned for 2020? Share in the comments below for a chance to be featured.