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Plucky number 13

This year was certainly a professionally memorable one. My photo of Violet Davis hanging tough during last year's mutton bustin' won me my first Best of Photojournalism award, and Football Campaign 2012 earned me the Cowles Cup for the year.

Plus, I got my picture in the paper!

The Strobist featured this year's football preview, which was quite an honor after reading his site religiously for several years.

I also had the privilege to fly with Will Allen in his stunt plane before boat races,

where I had a fun Saturday hitching rides around on land, sea and air.

I enjoyed writing a few daily stories here and there, and had a fun, stressful and interesting week talking with some local veterans and sharing their stories.

Visiting the Shallow Underground Laboratory at PNNL was a rare treat, and I got to write about checking the oil in wrestling.

Oh, and I took some photos too. Here are my favorites of the year:

But as we wrap up this year, it feels like a bit of a thud. It's been a humdrum slate of assignments lately and being down a photographer just exasperates those slow stretches of busy-work shoots. My friend and college newspaper colleague Jarod Opperman summed up my recent feelings in a blog post. It's well worth a read, and one passage in particular stuck with me as Jarod wrote about losing "The Magic" of photojournalism:

So why’d it go? I don’t know. I’d like to say it’s been the never-ending flood of press conferences, glorified building mugs and otherwise generally shitty assignments. But the truth is, it’s me. I’ve spent the last year agonizing over my future and forcing myself to produce work that I feel will propel me forward into something bigger and better than where I’m at now. I’ve shot most assignments with a mechanical process, trying to make every shot into what I know it’s “supposed” to look like. And in the process, I’ve been taking out the fun and, more importantly, making the work about me.

There have been two saving graces recently. The first was a chilly evening with Columbia Basin Dive Rescue at the Family Fishing Pond for some ice rescue training. Not only was it cool to walk out on the ice and see them plunge into the icy water, but the darkness made for some fun technical challenges to tackle, balancing super slow shutter speeds, high ISO's and a little flash 'n' pan:

The second was seeing the reactions from our Holiday Wish List series. I haven't photographed many, only snapping this portrait for the Arc of Tri-Cities,

but I got a really nice note from them afterward. Even more special was photographing the Edith Bishel Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired getting their new van after a big-hearted reader read Sara Schilling's story about their wish list item:

Visually, it wasn't the most exciting story to photograph. Emotionally, it was great for them, but the big "Yippee" moments had passed in the paperwork time between donation and receiving the van. Still, it was a nice reminder of the good we can do at the newspaper. I feel like I've written this a million times before, but I'll say it again. No matter how much I gripe and groan about the crappy parts of this job, there's still a lot to love.

Here's hoping there's even more in 2014.

There's no shortage of other 2013 recaps...

So I thank you for taking a few minutes to look through mine. I haven't clicked my way through the countless photo reviews of the year, so I can't really recommend a favorite, but I'm betting National Geographic's recap is one of the tops. Not only does it have the pedigree of the yellow book backing it, it features some cool multimedia that threatened to melt my aging work computer.

In a longer look back, Atlanta Falcons tight end Tony Gonzalez reflects on accidentally knocking out photographer Mickey Pfleger and saving his life.

Duckrabbit has an interesting collection of information about Molhem Barakat, the young Reuters photographer killed recently in Syria.

My platonic professional crush Gregory Heisler talks about interacting with subjects in this Q&A at Popular Photography.

PDN has a cool look at Lisa Shin's work and shows how deceptively complex still life photos can be.

Alex Wild shows how he deals with copyright infringement. I preemptively deal with this problem by shooting photos nobody wants to steal.

And you have to see how Jee Young Lee gets the most out of her tiny studio without digital manipulation.


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