As I look back on my year in images, I clearly see the progress I have made as a photographer. I started the year off in a creative rut, unhappy with the daily work I was producing. It wasn’t until much later in the year that I started to regain focus, despite some setbacks.
Below are three images that stood out to me – a portrait, a sports image and an image from the DAPL protests in North Dakota. In this post, I explain a little bit about the picture taking process for each image and why I think they are among my best of the year. At the end is a gallery with my top 40 photos of the year.
When I was at the Rapid City Journal earlier this year, I experimented a lot with lighting and perspective. I think this portrait of World War II veteran Lloyd Brandt is one of my more successful portrait attempts utilizing the two techniques. I really wanted to avoid taking a generic environmental portrait in Lloyd’s living room. When he showed me this framed collage of images of soldiers he served with, including his twin brother Lester, I knew I wanted to incorporate it into my portrait. I had the reporter the frame and asked Lloyd to look into the glass. I lit Lloyd using an off-camera strobe so that his reflection would stand out more in the glass. Overall, I was really happy with the concept and was glad to be able to take a creative image that got to the heart of Lloyd’s story better than a generic environmental or headshot portrait would have.
2016 was a pretty light year in sports for me, but I still managed to take a few decent sports images. This image of a steeplechase race is one of my favorites. Getting the shot was a little tricker than I originally imagined. Sometimes there were too many runners cluttering up the frame and other times there weren’t enough to make it engaging enough. There was also a very limited amount of time to get the shot because the lens would get splashed after the first batch of runners hit the water each lap, resulting in a muddy photo. I got splashed maybe a dozen times before finally getting an image where most of the elements come together.
Since September, most of my time photographing has been spent covering the fight against the Dakota Access Pipeline. This image I made in October is one of my favorites. DAPL protesters, or water protectors, as they preferred to be called, hiked about three miles into a construction site north of Cannon Ball, N.D. Here, a man watches as North and South Dakota law enforcement mobilize to meet the group of about 300 peaceful protesters hiking through the prairie. It was the calm before the storm, right before the two groups faced off in a confrontation that resulted in more than 120 arrests. I was shocked by the militarized police action against peaceful protesters against a backdrop of endless rolling hills. It is one of the many reasons why I chose to go back and document the fight happening in North Dakota time and time again.
To view the rest of my selection from 2016, check out the gallery below. Thanks for viewing!
- Auburn Drury of Spearfish won the 123 pound senior division championship of the Ringside World Championships in Independence, Missouri. More than 1300 boxers from around the world competed in the tournament.
- Dennon Flemming walks her horse into the James Kjerstad Event Center Wednesday before competing in the Black Hills Stock Show Winter Spectacular NRCHA Show.
- Mike Hawz of Lloydminster, Canada throws up a peace sign at the crowd as he participates in the Sundance Burnouts Wednesday afternoon in Sundance, Wyo.
- Rebecca Pederson of Spearfish says running is a simple way to keep up with your workout routine while away on vacation. Pederson often researches athletic events in areas she is visiting and competes in them.
- Lloyd Brandt, a veteran of the Marine Corps, is reflected in a framed photograph of other soldiers who served during World War II, including his twin brother Lester.
- Western State Colorado University’s Dawid Konieczek (7) jumps into the water as he and other runners compete in the 3000 meter steeplechase during the RMAC Outdoor Track & Field Championships Saturday at Lyle Hare Stadium.
- Presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders speaks to a capacity crowd during Thursday morning’s rally at Pine Ridge School.
- Dr. Sharne Clark looks through a phoropter Wednesday in his new family eye practice, Infinity Eye Care.
- Participants of the 31st annual Spring Crazy Horse Volksmarch walk past the 87-foot head of Crazy Horse. Thousands participated in the event, which is one of the largest organized hikes in the country.
- William Thompson of Texas looks down at his motorcycle as he participates in the Sundance Burnouts Wednesday afternoon in Sundance, Wyo.
- Tee Burress of Piedmont competes in the steer wrestling event during the Days of ’76 Rodeo Saturday in Deadwood.
- A Type 1 firefighting helicopter circles around Founders Park early Wednesday evening after dumping water on a section of the M-Hill fire.
- Glenda Rodriquez stands in the room she is currently renting on a weekly basis with her daughter Wednesday at the Colonial Motel. The future of the motel is up in the air as its owners seek to rezone the property to build a gas station, leaving current tenants uncertain of how long they will be able to stay.
- Justin Wright of the South Dakota Army National Guard’s 155th Engineer Company laughs after his daughter Berkely, 3, put on his sunglasses upside down during Saturday’s welcome home ceremony at the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center.
- Sioux Falls O’Gorman Catholic High School’s Hunter Thompson (5) fumbles the ball after Rapid City Central High School’s Kyle Elder (22) goes in for the tackle during Friday’s game at O’Harra Stadium.
- Chamberlain High School’s Seth Friesz (24) attempts to shoot a basket during Friday’s Class A state basketball tournament game against Sioux Falls Christian High School at the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center.
- Two-week-old Tate Lammers rests in an incubator as a NICVIEW real-time video system broadcasts a video stream to his mother Amanda Friday at Rapid City Regional Hospital. NICVIEW allows families to see their babies at Claire’s Place, Rapid City Regional’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, from any web browser.
- Yonas Amine cheers with his friends as loved ones walk across the auditorium during a nationalization ceremony Thursday at Mount Rushmore National Memorial.
- Terry G. and Linda J. Nelson show off their South Dakota State University pride Tuesday inside their Black Hawk home. The Nelsons will be traveling to California to see the SDSU girls basketball play in the NCAA Tournament.
- A rope dancer performs while hanging upside during the Naja Shrine Circus Friday at the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center. Circus performances will continue until Sunday, May 1.
- A man watches as North and South Dakota law enforcement officers move to block the advancement of a demonstration at a Dakota Access pipeline construction site Saturday, Oct. 22 northwest of Cannon Ball, N.D.
- Mason Neck of Rosebud drapes a flag over his shoulder as he and more than 200 others march toward a Dakota Access pipeline construction site Saturday, Oct. 22 northwest of Cannon Ball, N.D.
- A South Dakota Highway Patrol officer subdues a man participating in a peaceful protest along with more than 200 others on Saturday, Oct. 22 near a construction site for the Dakota Access pipeline northwest of Cannon Ball, N.D. 127 “protectors of water,” as they preferred to be called, were arrested during the demonstration.
- A peaceful protester who was maced by North Dakota law enforcement is assisted by two others as a group of more than 200 “protectors of water,” as they preferred to be called, are pushed away from a Dakota Access pipeline construction site Saturday, Oct. 22 morning north of Cannon Ball, N.D.
- A Dakota Access Pipeline protester wears a headband with the words “water protecter” on it, the preferred term for many members of the movement.
- Sandra O’Connor of Bainbirdge Island, Wash. prays next to a charred vehicle located in front of a law enforcement barricade on N.D. Highway 1806 near the Dakota Access Pipeline construction site north of Cannon Ball, North Dakota on October 29, 2016.
- Two boys ride horses down a hill Thursday, Sept. 1 at the Oceti Sakowin campsite north of Cannonball, N.D.
- Peta One Feather, 8, right, jumps out of the Cannonball River as he plays with his cousins Easton Condon, 4, and Achilles Condon, 3, Thursday, Sept. 1 at the Oceti Sakowin campsite.
- Lance King, 33, an Oglala Lakota from Lyle, South Dakota, celebrates with Kayti Bunny after the announcement that the Army Corps of Engineers denied the easement to drill under Lake Oahe for the Dakota Access Pipeline on Sunday, Dec. 4 near Canon Ball, N.D.
- Dakota Access Pipeline protesters participate in a victory march to the Oceti Sakowin campground after learning that the Army Corps of Engineers blocked the easement to drill under Lake Oahe near Cannon Ball, N.D. on Sunday, Dec. 4, 2016.
- Candi Brings Plenty, an Oglala Lakota Sioux, watches as smoke rises from a burning bundle of sage in her teepee at the Oceti Sakowin campground on Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2016.
- A group of Dakota Access Pipeline protesters dismantle their teepee before packing up to leave the Oceti Sakowin campground on Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2016.
- A Dakota Access Pipeline protester stands on a concrete barricade at the “Blackwater Bridge” law enforcement blockade on N.D. Highway 1806 on Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2016.
- A thick veil of campfire smoke hangs over tipis and tents Friday, Aug. 14 at the Oceti Sakowin campground.