“A great photograph is a full expression of what one feels about what is being photographed in the deepest sense and is thereby a true expression of what one feels about life in its entirety.”

-Ansel Adams

At the end of each year, I take time to review my favorite images of the year and what made them my favorites.

One of my favorite images of the year was taken in January.  My friend, Chris, and I planned to meet one morning to photograph what we hoped would be snowy conditions on Round Bald at Roan Mountain.  When we arrived that morning, we were met with some of the most pleasant and picturesque conditions I have ever experienced.  After a couple of hours exploring compositions, we made our way back down to the car.  While Chris photographed near the car, I made this composition through the snow-covered fence to create one of my favorite images of the year.  This image not only represents a perfect morning but also captures a great friend doing what he loves.

Winter Wonderland

Winter Wonderland

This year, I had great intentions of completing a 365 Project, in which I planned to use flash to make one image each day of the year.  I started out strong, but my plans were derailed on day 33, so my next favorite image comes from my 32 Project of 2021.  Although short-lived, my project did help me progress with my photography and comfort level with using artificial light.  My husband, Randy, is always so incredibly supportive of my photographic endeavors.  I love this image because it captured a true expression of his, is a great example of what he will do to support me with my photography, and it started an exploration of images combining bright, vivid colors with darkness.   As I look upon these images combining the color and the darkness, I see them as showing that even though there was darkness in my life this year, I looked for the color and the beauty in each day.

Randy in Red

Randy in Red

I spent time this year working on a series I titled, Caged.  In this series, I photographed at the Riverbanks Zoo.  I chose the Riverbanks Zoo because it was a bit of a distance from my home.  This allowed me to enjoy the drive while being close enough to home that I could return quickly if needed.  I decided I wanted to create images other than ones I typically made at the zoo.  Many of the images from this series continue the exploration of darkness and light.

 

Seeing Double

Seeing Double

 

 

Just Keep Swimming

Just Keep Swimming

 

Zigzag

Zigzag

 

Feathers

Feathers

Much of my time this year has been spent very close to home.  I enjoy daily walks.  I take my camera with me to see what life presents on any given day.  One morning, I was greeted with this face while on the walking trail.  I was very careful using a long lens in order to capture this.

 

Face to Face

Face to Face

 

Just before Mother’s Day, I was photographing some flowers in my home studio (AKA my grown son’s former bedroom).  I got the idea to wear this jacket that I gave my Mom one year to make a self-portrait.  This image led to a series of faceless self-portraits this year.  Although I didn’t realize it at the time, I now know why I created these.  January 1 I retired from my position teaching in the public schools of the Carolinas after 33 1/2 years.  This year I have really mourned that loss.  Teaching children was so much of who I was.  Other changes in my life also occurred during this time.  These self-portraits represent the time where I needed to reinvent myself as most of the things in my life were changed.  As I have become more comfortable with these changes, the need to create these faceless self-portraits no longer exists.

Happy Mother's Day

Happy Mother’s Day

The next two images were created for a scavenger hunt that I have participated in for years.  For this particular hunt, I wanted to use flash and create the images in my home studio.  The first image I created for the word, tea.  It is one of my favorites because my Mom supplied me with many of the props needed for the picture.  She also enjoyed the image so much after I created it.

 

Tea Party

Tea Party

The self-portrait was the last one I made for the scavenger hunt.  Those closest to me remarked upon my expression in the image.  My response was that it was how I was feeling.  As I look at the image now, I see that it does capture how I have felt through many of the trying times this year.

 

Self

Self

One day, an incident happened that brought many of my emotions to the surface.  Rather than letting that incident and the emotions spoil the rest of the day, I turned it all to my camera as I made this self-portrait behind the curtains.  I think this photograph is the first time I have ever truly poured all I was feeling into one image.

Grief

Grief

Although I have shared here some of my favorite images from the year in this post, most of my favorites have not been shared at this point.  I have been the primary caregiver for my Mom since November 2019.  My mom has always been my best friend and supporter of all I do.  Taking photographs at her house has allowed me to capture special moments during this time as well as preserve memories that will forever be treasured.  It is with her permission that I share this portrait I made of her this year in her home studio.

 

Portrait of an Artist

Portrait of an Artist

This year, more than any other year, my heart is present in my photographs.  I have no idea if they make the photographs stronger or more impactful for others, but they certainly are so much more meaningful to me.  As 2021 ends and we welcome 2022, I will continue to look for the light and bright, vibrant colors.

 

Wishing you all bright light and vivid colors!

 

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Mary Presson Roberts

I am a travel and fine art photographer living and working in the Carolinas. My camera has taken me to places I never would have experienced and to people I never would have met. Photography has truly changed my life! Using my blog, I hope to share the joys of both travel and photography.

Comments (20)

  1. Mary, these are simply wonderful pictures! So creative and so well done. Let’s hope the world gets back to normal sometime soon. But in the meantime, thank you for finding beauty, joy, and meaning in your photography.

    1. Thank you, so much, David! I appreciate your kindness! Looking forward to seeing where 2022 takes you and your photography!

  2. That was so wonderful! Thanks for sharing the consistent creativity in your images and the stories behind them.

    1. Thank you for your kind words! Wishing you a joyous holiday season!

  3. They are wonderful! Each and every one.

    1. Thank you, Cathy! Merry Christmas to you and yours!

  4. Mary, these are stunning! Thank you so much for sharing. You inspire me!

    1. Thank you, so much, Robert, for your very kind words! Greatly appreciated!

  5. Love your work Mary.

    1. Thank you, Dan! I am a big fan of your work!

  6. You beat me to it again this year, Mary! Wonderful images, I’m sure you had a hard time choosing favorites.

    1. Thank you, Bill! Wishing you and yours a Merry Christmas!

  7. Your photos continue to be amazing !. I enjoyed each of them and the story. Remember Chris talking about how cold it was on Roan that mooning,. Merry Christmas.

    1. Thank you, very much, Richard! It was very cold, indeed, but so worth the cold for the beauty we experienced that morning. Merry Christmas to you and your family, as well!

  8. Mary – I continue to find inspiration and joy from viewing your images and I appreciate how you have turned your art form into a way of expressing your thoughts and emotions. Your favourite images of 2021 really do speak to transition and self reflection and they also indicate hope and new growth.

    1. Thank you, Pam, for your very kind words! So glad you see hope and growth in the images. Wishing you all the best as we approach 2022!

  9. You truly are a fine art photographer, Mary.
    This is a wonderful journey through your year in pictures.

    1. Thank you, kindly, Sabine! I greatly appreciate your kind words. Wishing you health, joy, and creativity in 2022!

  10. Beautiful… sentiments and photos… really spoke to my heart… ((hugs))

    1. Thank you, so much, Lynn! I really appreciate your kind words!

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