Each December, I sort through my photos from the last 12 months and pick my ten best. This exercise allows me to reflect on the year and also see if my photography is improving.
During the process, I rediscover old photos buried in the pile, and I’m reminded that life is short and time is weird. Did I take that photo this year? Did I go to Singapore just last March? Who is that fat guy in a selfie with my cat?…Wait, that is me.
In 2019, I had the great fortune to travel to Japan, Uzbekistan, Laos, Malaysia, Singapore, my home state of Oklahoma, and throughout Thailand, my country of residence. Even though I traveled all around Asia, I took some of my best photos in Oklahoma. I thoroughly enjoyed photographing the small towns, landscapes, and farmlands of the central plains.
I also loved taking photos in the quiet cities of Uzbekistan, and remote villages and small towns of Laos. I learned this year that I do better in quiet places, where I can think about the photo in advance and connect with the people I am photographing. Conversely, I struggled to shoot in Bangkok, Japan, and Kuala Lumpur, fascinating and photogenic yet hectic places. In 2020, I should either try to do better shooting in busy places or seek out the calm areas of megacities. Or take up golf and sell my camera gear.
I don’t know if I improved as a photographer this year. My ten best photos aren’t better than my ten best from 2018, but I had more to choose from, and the decision was more difficult. Perhaps I’m less decisive in my old age?
Okay, enough words – let’s look at the pics.
My Top 10 Photos of 2019
- April 6, 2019
- Phanom Rung Historical Park
- f/5.6 | ISO 800 | 1/500 | 55mm
- April 7, 2019
- Phimai, Thailand
- f/5.6 | ISO 1600 | 1/500 | 18mm
- April 14, 2019
- Bahn Du Lat, Thailand
- f/8 | ISO 1600 | 1/3500 | 18mm
Blessing of the Monks
- April 14, 2019
- Bahn Du Lat, Thailand
- f/5.6 | ISO 1600 | 1/500 | 18mm
- May 6, 2019
- Railay Beach, Thailand
- f/13 | ISO 100 | 1/2 second | 13mm
Heaven – Don’t Miss It
- July 25, 2019
- Gloss Mountains, Oklahoma
- f/13 | ISO 400 | 1/1300 second | 18mm
- October 21, 2019
- Bukhara, Uzbekistan
- f/5.6 | ISO 1600 | 1/400 second | 18mm
- October 22, 2019
- Bukhara, Uzbekistan
- f/5.6 | ISO 800 | 1/480 second | 45mm
- October 24, 2019
- Samarqand, Uzbekistan
- f/11 | ISO 1600 | 1/750 | 18mm
- December 30, 2019
- Luang Prabang, Laos
- f/3.2| ISO 1600 | 1/50 | 28mm
Thanks for reading. If you have any thoughts on these photos I’d love to hear it in the comments section. I hope you all have a great 2020.
Great collection Jeff. Love them all, but the water fight made me smile. I rarely seem to go back to old pictures. I should, it’s a great way to take stock of the year (or decade). You sure got in a lot of travel in 2019. I’ll take tranquility with pictures over golf any day~
The water fight was one of my favorite moments. The boy on the bike rolled up to a group of kids who were fortified with water hoses, buckets, and water guns – and got totally annihilated. Do you ever make photo books or prints of your old photos?
Ah what a great collection. I would be hard pressed to choose a favorite. I do love the yellow dancers, the way the central figure is so large, Railay beach, the one of the kids playing soccer with the onlookers, and the artist in Uzbekistan, well that is for sure a winner.
Great idea, although I am sure I would have trouble selecting only 10! What a great year of travels you had. Wondering what adventures you have planned for 2020?
Amazing photos, I like the variety of subjects. It is very difficult to choose a favorite, they are all fantastic, but I think the boys playing football is very special.
Thanks Gilda. I enjoyed watching that moment. There were actually about 15 kids playing just out of frame, and every time pedestrians came by they had to walk through the action.
It is hard to pick 10, and if I were to wait a week and do it again I’d likely pick a different 10. I don’t think I’ll be traveling so much in 2020 – I was lucky to go to a lot of places last year. How about you two – any big trips ahead this year?
Great pictures Jeff. I love the Railay photo. I’m biased though because it’s one of my favourite places in Thailand.
Railay is spectacular. The setting with the mountains, jungle and beaches is hard to beat. Thanks for the comments!
Great collection of photos Jeff and whittling it down to 10 isn’t an easy exercise for someone who has such awesome photos. My favourite is the Samarqand Artist.
Thank you Caroline. I like the artist too. I appreciate the feedback.
All fantastic, Jeff. If I have to vote, I’d say the beach shot just because the light and movement are so great. But I did love your Oklahoma photos this year; as I said at the time, they are reminiscent of my own bleak hometown and area, and there is something special about the spare beauty of these middle America places.
Photographing Oklahoma was a great experience, especially becuase I felt like I was doing something unique. There are millions of photos of Bangkok, Railay, Japan, etc, every year, but few people are taking the time to document middle America. Thanks for your comments and happy trails in 2020.
This is a quite stunning collection Jeff. I don’t have favourites. At first I didn’t like much the Oklahoma sign, but a second look and I could see both the power and humour of it.
You sure went to a lot of places in 2019. May 2020 be just as interesting.
I wanted to include one shot from Oklahoma, and I wasn’t sure about that one, but I chose it for the reasons you mention. In the past, I’d have probably taken a straight-forward shot, but in 2019 I thought to include the sun. I don’t think I’ll travel as much in 2020, but it should be quite interesting nonetheless. I hope you too have a great year of travels. Thanks for your comments.
The last one was really beautiful. I love the sharp shadows and the colors of the sunset. It really has a great color palette and lines. Very nice. Which camera do you use? (I’m guessing you get this question a lot)
I use a Fuji X-T20 and a Fuji X100-T. Both are middle range mirrorless cameras that have nice picture quality and colors. Thanks for your comments.
These are marvelous photos, and I’d be hard pressed to select just one to love. They are beautiful and different, and I’d love to see some of the places you’ve visited. Thanks for sharing and good luck finding more picture-worthy places in 2020!
Thank you for the comments. Happy trails in 2020 as well.
The water fight is the one that jumps out to me. Perhaps it makes me feel joy just looking at it. The Railay Beach one should be in National Geographic. How do you decide which are the best? Frankly I’ve always thought your photos are some of the best I’ve seen anywhere. No wonder you don’t see much change from years past. They were excellent then!
Selecting the 10 best is easy and hard at the same time. I look back at my adventures from the prior year and put any good photo into a folder. From there, I try and pick the 10 best. There are obviously some biases – I naturally want to spread them out across different trips and different months. Thanks for the compliments! I really appreciate it.
I love your photos from Phanom Rung and Phimai for the vibrant colors. They make me think that I haven’t really seen the rest of Thailand for all my visits to the country were all confined to Bangkok. However, it’s your photos from Uzbekistan that keep my mind busy thinking of a trip to this Central Asian country I’ve always wanted to see. Any chance to drop by Jakarta sometime this year?
I feel like Thailand is so well known for its beaches that visitors don’t really think of coming for a festival. Living here has been nice since I’ve been able to see some of the local colorful celebrations that most outsiders don’t see. Next time you visit, go out to Isaan or the central areas like Kanchaniburi or Sukhothai for a different experience.
We should come to Jakarta – let me see what we can do 🙂
Fantastic collection of memories and experiences! We loved Thailand. It’s been over a decade since we’ve been there. 🙂 Keeping your filters to the minimum turns the spotlight on your subjects. It’s a treat to be this close to reality. Here’s to 2020!
Thank you for the comments! Happy travels in 2020!
All great shots. I’d have to say I like the beach shot and the artist the most.
I have no idea how I’d pick the 10 best.
Yeah, picking 10 is hard but you should give it a try! It is a fun process.
Oh Jeff – so awesome – some top ones here for me were the artist – the football and the heaven sign – but all ten so amazing 😊
Beautiful images Jeff – I loved your sunrise and sunset shots especially, and the water fight is terrific. Such a fun exercise going thru a year’s photos isn’t it?! Great memories come alive!
Looking back at an entire year is quite fun. It is hard to believe what you can pack into a year, and how much you can not get done too 🙂 Thanks for commenting.
These are quite beautiful. Thank you for sharing them.
You shouldn’t give up photography, but more importantly, you shouldn’t take up golf. It’s boring. Anyway, can you guess my pick? Mekong sunset, of course. The personal connection won out. Here’s to scores of wonderful photos in 2020!
The Mekong sunset was one of the last ones of the year, from a great place. It was great meeting you both there.
Uzbekistan and Okie are my favorites still. Probably because I’ve lived in Thailand too long, and still have romantic tendencies for the rest of the world. T-land photos still remarkable…but favorites means you have to choose!
The Uzbek and Okie photos are my favs too. The light in both places is incredible and I do better in quiet spots. I assume since I learned to take photos in the wilds of Alaska, I do better when I am in a calm spot where I can wait for the light. Bangkok with its filthy air and commotion confuse me, but I enjoy the challenge. Thanks for your comments!
About the two chaps playing in Bokhara. Football in slippers. That’s badassery!
No kidding. Their feet must be tough.
I’m much more a fan of the quieter places so I liked the last one the best. I could almost feel the air!
Quieter is easier. Do you miss taking photos?
Well that’s a bit of story. I didn’t for the longest time. Then we moved to this historic house that’s basically an acreage in the city. I found myself enamoured with the wildlife that frequent our place. So after much inner turmoil, I bought a bridge camera to play around with that basically doesn’t leave the yard and doesn’t leave the case for long stretches but when I see a fox from my office window, I’m scrambling to get it out.