Chuck Kirchner | Photography: Culture, Ritual, and Spirit | Photos of the Year 2016

Photos of the Year 2016

January 17, 2017  •  Leave a Comment

For the second year running, I've followed the suggestion of John Paul Caponigro and have reviewed my photos for the year. John's suggestion is to identified your a)best photo, b)your second best, and c)the next ten and d)find the common threads among them. Its an exercise in editing, and in seeing the direction a photographer is taking over time.  I encourage you to do the same.  Without further ado, here goes:

The best photo of the year, taken at Flower of Hope School on Haiti's Central Plateau. Traveling there as part of a humanitarian trip, I was at time overwhelmed by what I was seeing. But here, there was a flower of hope and an enthusiasm among the students.  Hope indeed.


My second best photo of the year was in a totally different environment - the hot air balloon festival in Albuquerque. In spite of bad weather the previous evening, dawn of the festival's final day brought out the amazing sight of several hundred balloons taking flight. This one, in particular, speaks to me more as a design and color study then as a documentary. It also embodies simplicity at its core - nothing extraneous - yet you know what it is. And that its floating (upward, we hope!).

The next two photographs were both taken in Haiti. While I've traditionally not taken a lot of portraits, portraiture was an intimate part of the Haitian experience and is moving me more and more in that direction.

Now, back to Albuquerque and the balloons. The first is another study in color, the second emphasizing the multitude of balloons and the partly clouds sky of early morning.

While in New Mexico, I led a wonderful photo workshop at Ghost Ranch. The photo on the right was taken at sunrise near my, shall we say, rustic room. The New Mexico skies are picturesque to say the least. The photo on the left was created at a gallery on Canyon Road in Santa Fe. Motion continues to be a favorite them of mine and seeing perhaps 50 such sculptures spinning in the wind was a photo opportunity I couldn't miss.

Closer to my home in the Puget Sound area, Seattle's Folklife Festival is a near annual tradition for me. While there is such a thing as a Ghost Dance, this really wasn't one of them, instead a contradance. But still with a ghosting effect - slowing down that shutter speed! The photo on the right features two professional tango dancers in perfect harmony.


Finally, the year ended for me on a cruise in the western Caribbean. The photo on the left was created at the cathedral in Puerto Limon, Costa Rica. The play of the light through the stained glass on the pews just captured my eye. And yes, sunsets are cliche and overdone but from our balcony overlooking the sea and using the geometry of the ship to to further draw attention to the sunset, well, it works. I made it mine. It's all good.



So, common themes? Well, color (all but one), people (in nearly half), landcapes (or seascapes) in half, and motion in a quarter. But the most common them is being away from home - from Seattle to the Central Plateau of Haiti, Costa Rica to Albuquerque. Being on the road (or ship) always brings out my most intense photographic efforts. Maybe its the time constraint, the fact of being there here and now and for a short period. Whatever it is, travel and photography and idelibly linked in my mind and spirit.  So, Journey On!



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