Best of 2016

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!