Well, 2021 is finally in the books. I am not sure about everyone else, but I am very happy to see it in the rearview mirror. It was a tough year for many, including myself, and in my home state of Colorado it ended with another horrible wildfire. Events like that put life in perspective to remember to spend time with those you love, don’t worry about things and stuff, and treat every moment like it is the most special of your life.
I hope everyone had a lovely Thanksgiving with family and friends.
I can’t believe it is now December, and another year is coming to a close. When I reflect on last year at this time compared to this year, and what I expected for this year, it is hard to believe we are still in the middle of a pandemic, climate change is more prevalent than ever, ships with Christmas goods are stacked up along the West Coast, and the economy is showing signs of, well, let’s hope that doesn’t become a struggle too. In the last month I saw polar bears waiting for ice that was at least two weeks later than the average freeze up. And just last week Denver broke a record of 223 days without measurable snow, and there is no snow in the 7-day forecast.
As we head into the Thanksgiving weekend, I am reminded of a relative who used to make each guest at her holiday table say what they were thankful for. But, in year two of a pandemic that’s taken so many lives and disrupted travel and business, are there things we’re still grateful for? Yes, Virginia, there are many things for a nature photographer to be thankful for. Vaccines, for one, that are gradually helping life, travel, and our businesses return to a more normal state, and, in no particular order:
Autumn is probably a favorite season for most nature photographers. We love to capture the vibrant colors, the activity of mating animals, and fleeting visits of migrating birds. I know that is the case for me, and it was another great season in Colorado. Although the bighorn sheep rut has just started to ramp up and the deer rut is just around the corner, the colors are almost finished after a spectacular show across the Centennial State.
First, my apologies for this late blog post this month. It seems every year I get to the end of summer and freak out about all the things I didn’t finish on my to-do list or wish list before the leaves start turning gold and orange. This year was no different.
Mark Lukes received NANPA’s Lifetime Achievement in Nature Photography Award on July 17th at a barbeque organized by his wife, Linda, and daughter, Lauren, at his home in Colorado. NANPA President Dawn Wilson presented the award and both Francine Butler and Wendy Shattil spoke before an audience of about 40 of his friends, neighbors, family, and former employees.
A couple of weeks ago, I had a very personal conversation with a friend and fellow photographer about photographer burnout. We discussed where she was with her photography, why she was feeling like she wasn’t achieving her goals, the pitfalls of comparing your own work to other photographers, the thoughts of walking away from photography, and the source of all this stress and concern.
I never pass up a chance to travel, and I am behind on my goal of visiting all of the national parks by my birthday this year. (I currently have visited and photographed 43 of 63 national parks.) Part of that is due to the pandemic, partly due to the addition of five new parks, and partly just due to a busy schedule.
Well, for most people it should be. As I type this blog post, it is snowing again here in Colorado. The snow is a welcome weather occurrence as we desperately need the moisture, but it does do a number on those flowers people plant before the recommended planting date of Mother’s Day in Colorado. Much of Colorado, like the West, is still under severe drought conditions, bringing with it the fear of yet another difficult wildfire season. Fingers crossed that is not the case.