2020 was an interesting photography year for me. I’ve gone through waves in my life where, as a travel photographer, the travel part has been dominant and parts where the photographer part has been dominant. 2020 was all about the travel and photography took a big backseat.
With the exception of one outing while in Oregon during the spring, all my photography this year was simply added onto a family vacation or hiking trip. With that being the case, I had more images than I expected that I am happy with.
Before we get to my top 10, I have two honorable mentions. These aren’t being added because they are great shots, but because they mean something to me.
This first shot was taken the last time I saw my parents before the lockdown. It was the day before the schools shut down and my parents headed home a couple days later. My dad came out so we could go to Spring Training together and that didn’t happen. We were supposed to visit them in the summer, but I had Covid and couldn’t expose them, so this was it. I love this image because the formations at Valley of Fire are awesome and my mom is playing with my boy so I could pose for the picture.
The second honorable mention is from our Thanksgiving trip to Mexico. It was at the Garden of Eden Cenote. This one gets a shout out because it was my first time shooting underwater. I bought a GoPro for the trip and had fun trying to learn to shoot underwater.
And with that out of the way, let’s get onto the top 10 list.
We visited this Cenote briefly after our Chichen Itza tour. Most of the time was spent playing in the water, but when I had to take Cole up for a diaper change, I grabbed a few images from the top. This one was my favorite. We made a photography guide to Playa del Carmen with a ton of other awesome spots you should definitely check out!
We did a family reunion in St. George Utah and stayed at a house outside Snow Canyon State Park. We got up for a few early morning hikes. This was the beginning of the hike to Scout Cave, looking back toward Snow Canyon. I bracketed multiple exposures to keep the sky from blowing out and also to focus stack and keep the flowers in the foreground in focus.
#8-Honeymoon Island State Park
Our first day in Florida for the Fourth of July, we spent the day at Honeymoon Island State Park, on the Gulf side. After a full day of swimming and playing on the beach, I made the family wait for me while I found somewhere to shoot the sunset. The sunset wasn’t great, but I did the best I could. You can read more about photography at Honeymoon Island in this guide.
#7-Cathedral of San Gervasio
At the end of our Chichen Itza tour day, we ate dinner at a great little restaurant in Valladolid, a colonial town not too far away. The restaurant was on a public square in front of this church so I hurried and ate dinner and ran out for some pictures. We left before the sunset, but I got some good golden light and had fun trying to find a location to get a good sunstar. This was my favorite one.
In October, I joined a group of friends for a two-day hike along the west rim of Zion Canyon in Zion National Park. Our campsite had this huge gnarled tree. While cooking breakfast, I noticed the sun was making the underside of the log glow. I set up my camera where I could grab a sunstar to compliment the glow.
I actually shot a lot of Bighorn Sheep this year, which was a lot of fun. We saw herds of sheep twice in Valley of Fire and once at Hemenway Park in Boulder City, Nevada. This shot below is from Hemenway Park while I was testing out my new Sigma 100-400 lens.
I had a shot above from the Scout Cave Trail in Saint George, Utah. This is the actual cave. I took a self portrait at the entrance. If I remember correctly, I did three exposures to get the cave, background and me. It was a pain to blend them and I am not thrilled with the result of the blending, but I still really like the image.
#3-Valley of Fire
During one of our trips to Valley of Fire, I made the family hang out at Rainbow Vista while I shot the sunrise. We didn’t get great colors, but the clouds were pretty great. This was shot across the street from the trailhead, looking north.
#2-Upper Bridal Veil Falls, Oregon
The one dedicated photo outing of the year that I mentioned above was to Upper Bridal Veil Falls in the Columbia River Gorge. I got up early one morning staying at my in laws’ house and headed out on a solo trip. I took a ton of shots I really liked, but this one has grown on me throughout the year as I love the shape of the water coming down the river. You can find all my best shots from that day and read about my harrowing adventure in this post.
My favorite shot of the year is another one from my hike along the west rim of Zion Canyon. This one was also from our campsite. It was right along the edge of the canyon and we enjoyed watching the sunset over the fall colors and then the milky way coming up before a terrible night’s sleep.
Every year compiling my top ten images is one of my favorite activities of the year. I am more determined than ever to have a better year in 2021 and my recent purchase of a new Sony A7III and various lenses has me motivated to get out and shoot.
If you are interested in seeing more top 10 compilations, here are my links for previous years:
We also started doing a community roundup to feature the top annual images of other photographers. Check out the links for those below and make sure to join our mailing list or join our Facebook Group so you can be notified of our next annual roundup in time to contribute your own work.