My friend Tom Vadnais challenged a group of us this year to pick our five favorite photos from 2015, and then upload them to a Dropbox share so that we could admire one another’s work. Excellent idea, I thought… so I jumped right in. What I didn’t realize at the time though was how hard it would be to do! It turns out that of all the pictures I took throughout the year, there were about 12 or so that I just really loved. So getting to my top 12 was fairly easy (a process heavily aided by a solid Lightroom ranking strategy from my friend Colby McLemore, I might add). That’s where the fun started. Not only was I reminded of all the awesome places that Holly and I got to visit this past year, but I was also reminded of the really wonderful experiences we shared! These emotional attachments can make it hard to axe pictures from your list! That said, I got it down to seven images, and that’s when I REALLY struggled. There were two images that were absolute “no brainers” for me because I liked them so much (subsequently I think I would have had an easier time picking my top 2, than my top 5!), but the others were extremely challenging to cull out! I ended up using this strategy to decide, I asked myself, if I lost all my pictures, which ones would I be the most heartbroken over if they were gone forever. Below are the ones I landed on.

What an awesome exercise! If you’re into photography, you should definitely try this. It will not only challenge you mentally, but it will also give you great insight into the kinds of pictures that you take, that really stick with you. I also found it interesting how many pictures I take in a year. It seems to be climbing (numbers on the right)! I think I’ll start doing this every year! Thanks Tom!

On a very related, but perhaps somewhat comical side note, my friend Steve Zigler and I ended up having a brief, yet intellectually challenging conversation on the differences between your “best photos” and your “favorite photos”. I’m not sure if Tom meant for us to struggle over the existential and philosophical nature of his choosing the term “favorite” or not, but it turns out that Steve and I did. My comment was that my favorite shots would likely be my best shots, but Steve countered that since art can’t truly be measured (at the very least not by ourselves), how can the pictures be ranked and therefore a “best” chosen? It’s an interesting point, and pretty deep when you consider it. Yes folks… these are actual conversations, and things we think about at length. LOL

Have a top 5 for 2015? Post a link in the comments! I’d love to see it!

–Dan Thompson

Number of Pictures Taken Annually

2015

2013

2014

2012

University of Washington Cherry Blossoms

This photo and the last one were the only two “no brainers” for this year’s list. I’ve even grown to like the guy standing in the middle! 🙂 Full Picture of the Week article here.

The Killing Chair

I like this picture for a variety of reasons, but most of all because it’s creepy, and I love the mood of it. It also, of course, reminds me of the Picture Me, Loving You series from this year… which played a huge role in advancing my photography this past year. Full Picture of the Week article here.

Cotton Candy Clouds

I REALLY enjoyed our time in California this year, and especially our time in Joshua Tree National Park. It is such a neat and unusual environment and to photograph. I’ll admit though, I struggled with this image! I got so many pictures I’m proud of from Joshua Tree, it was hard to pick my favorite! Full Picture of the Week article here.

Hong Kong’s Star Ferry

I haven’t gotten around to publishing any of my pictures from Hong Kong to the website yet, but I came away with three that I was really happy with, and this one was my favorite… though it was really hard for me to choose. Picture of the Week article soon!

Blood Moon over Szczecin

This was the other of the two “no brainers” for 2015. Wow, what an amazing experience! Not only was this my favorite image of 2015, it drove more traffic to my website than any other as well! The full lunar eclipse is such a rare thing I think a picture of it would have made my list, even if it had been a bad picture… BUT, I happen to be quite fond it. 🙂