From 2023 to 2024, Accomplishments and Future Goals

January 2, 2024
Tranquility Desert Falls

A panoramic image of Calf Creek Falls with a dollop of fall colors.

There and Back Again, A Photographers Tail

Low and behold a year has gone and a new year has arrived. As I begin writing this I firmly sit two days into the new year, but the past year is still fresh on the mind. In many ways things are going well in the photography business, and in some ways they have flatlined or in fact gone down. If I look just at the business sales directly, I have been dropping in slowly since 2021. Each year I have made a few thousand dollars less than the previous year. I have hopes for this year to change, and to change how I make money. We will see if I can pull it off. Not sure if I can, but I will do my best.

Photos

Now when it comes to photos, this year has been a decent year. I photographed both near and far. I got some very nice brand new images of brand new places. I also returned to past muses and photographed them in new conditions.

January through June

I think the first six months of the year are a good example of visiting the new. I photographed Joshua trees in snow which was new. I photographed across Arizona and New Mexico. I finally got out to a brand new region of Capitol Reef that I have wanted to go to for a long time. I photographed new areas near my home and photographed a few conditions I had never seen before. I also revisited a few locations that I hadn't been to since my very earliest days as a photographer.

The three sisters hoodoos in goblin valley backlit by the rising sun with a small sun star in the bottom corner of the image.

The Three Sisters in Goblin Valley are an iconic set of hoodoos of Southern Utah. They are some of the first set of goblins you get to see as you enter into the park and they happen to line up nicely with many celestial phenomenon as well.

The above image is one of my stand out images from that first half of the year. I think my next favorite images came from White Sands and Petrified Forest National Park. Petrified is sleeper of a park and is severely overlooked. I am ok with that. It just means when I go back next time, I will have it all to myself again. I'll put out a video about that this year. It is on my list.

A petrified log as the foreground leads viewers to a large dome of earth in the distance.


July through December

July started off in an interesting manner. For years I had been wanting to hike up to Big Springs in Zion National Park. I mean years. I had made the attempt multiple times, but had to turn back due to time. But I finally got to it this year. It cost me my right ankle... sort of. I was in a lot of pain for a long time after that day, but I finally saw Big Springs. Along the way I also learned a lot about the Narrows of Zion in general, all of which ended up in my Zion Photography Guide.

Big Springs



Now as I move into the summer months, we were blessed this year with one of the best monsoons on record. My home town recorded the wettest summer in its 100+ years of record keeping. And with that rain came many great photographs. I photographed rainbows in a variety of locations, chased them in other locations, and was scared off from them by lightning in one other place... Or maybe two. I don't remember. I had one storm I had to run away from at least.

A double rainbow archs over Snow Canyon State Park.


As the year came to a close, I decided to revisit a few locations and try my hand at seeing a few other spots that had my attention for years now. One of those regions was the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument. Over this past year I have gotten permits up and functioning for the monument. One of the things I needed to do in preparation for that was to re-visit a few of the spots and make sure I knew what I was doing. Low and behold I still do. In the end I decided to re-photograph an arch that I last photographed in 2016. I figured six+ years of experience and better tech would result in a nicer image. I think in many ways it is an upgrade from the last, but also honors it as the founding inspiration.

An arch with the sun rising through the corner. The arch is underlit with light and epic clouds swirl in the distance.


Looking Into 2024

Before I wrote this, I have been toiling away at itemizing all my expenses and my income for this past year. As I did that, I discovered a few things. I spend a lot of money on this business. Not enough to be poor, but too much to make this a viable option for a real money maker. Its a frustrating reality, but its one I have to accept.

The goal of the photography business has always been 1- allow for a creative way for me to experience the outdoors, 2- pay for itself so I can explore the world around me, 3- provide financial stability for my family, 4- provide a mechanism for me to be proactive about conservation in the world around me.

The business has been actually fairly good at allowing me to go out and be creative outdoors. It also has been fairly good at maintaining itself. I make enough to keep the business going most of the time. In fact I can buy just about any lens I want because of what I make (except those stupid expensive 10,000 dollar lenses. Those are still outside my price range). I generally do not though. I still try to maintain a sense of reason when it comes to managing the money, but I definitely could be better.

Now this gets to my last two points. As for financial stability for my family... not so much. I am less of a walker for an old person and more of a cane. I can support in little moments, but if something big comes along, it is a bit harder. In fact if my wife lost her job, this could not take over completely at its current state.

Now for the final goal as being a mechanism for conservation... Not so much. I recently listened F-Stop Collaborate and Listen with Amy Gulick and in many ways I envy her. I so badly want my images to make a difference. Or maybe I just wish to be out there with the animals again working to preserve and protect species. No matter what I try to do on the regular job front it doesn't seem to want to happen. Not sure why but true.

My heart longs to work with fish again. To feel like I am doing something directly to protect and preserve species. The closes things I have in the works is maybe something with Joshua Tree's. I don't know, we'll see. But if you are a scientist who reads this, please reach out. I want to tag along with you and see what you do. I want to be apart of animal conservation again.

As I look into 2024, the plan is to actually do more for these last two goals. I think the first real change I plan on rolling out is diversifying my income streams. I do art shows and that's it. I love selling my work, but people buy local, so when I leave southern Utah I struggle. I need a way to make money that isn't tied so geographically to me.

Second I really want to do more for wildlife with wildlife images. It is something I have wanted to do for years. So I think this will be the year I put the effort into it. I can do landscape still, and will not give those up, but I will definitely will add more of wildlife to what I do.

Finally, I think the next big step will be to get back on my Youtube Channel. I started one. Got a few videos in, and got busy with my semester. I am still am busy, but I am making new rules for myself to keep myself doing the things I want to and spending less time on things that don't matter. (I am looking at you smartphone).

So expect a lot out of me this next year. I believe I can accomplish greatness and the first step to doing that is simply putting my first step forward.

Step

Metate Arch, a small arch in the desert of southern Utah. The image is bathed in colorful light from a colorful sunset.

I have been photographing this area for close to 10 years. This is the first time I got an image of Metate Arch that I am happy with.

The Towers of the Virgin in Zion National Park with dappled light across the cliff faces.
Dappled Light of the Virgin Towers