2017 Year in Review

Although the sun has set on 2017, it isn’t too late to take a look back.

In putting together this post I was surprised by how much travel and adventure I packed into a year. I also realize that I’m slow to process my travels, both mentally and physically through words and images. So that brings me to New Year’s resolution #1: To remember, write about, and share my travels in a timely manner.

Now you can help hold me to that for 2018! But for now, enjoy a visual tour of the highlights from 2017.

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In January, I traveled with Lindblad/National Geographic Expeditions as the Nat Geo Expert on two voyages to Antarctica. The penguins charmed me, but I simply fell in love with icebergs. I found myself running outside to photograph during meal times (without my parka on) and staying up until the wee hours (when the Antarctic summer light is best) and I simply couldn’t get enough. New Year’s resolution #2: Go back to Antarctica.

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My mom joined me on my last Antarctica trip and then we traveled to Mendoza in Argentina to sip wine and take horse rides into the foothills of the Andes at sunrise. When she flew back to the States in February, I stayed on to explore Buenos Aires.

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In April I visited New Zealand for the first time to work on a project with National Geographic Travel and Tourism New Zealand. I tacked on some free time in advance of the shoot to explore on my own. At Rippon Vineyard on the edge of beautiful Lake Wanaka, I was able to photograph their first day of autumn harvest.

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In New Zealand, the Nat Geo Travel team, which included writer Carrie Miller, director Tom King, marketing mastermind Andrew Nelson, and myself, joined up with actor/director Bryce Dallas Howard and Tourism New Zealand to produce a gorgeous package of work. Our efforts were recently honored as #2 in Ad Age’s 10 Best Branded Content Partnerships of 2017.

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In May, I returned to National Geographic in Washington, D.C., a place I’d called home for so long, to speak at a special event partnered with Asheville Tourism. I was able to share photos from my assignment there and afterward, we celebrated with live music and food.

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I hopped a plane straight from D.C. to Casablanca where I joined my first land-based National Geographic Expeditions photo trip in Morocco. With our cameras in hand, we explored souks, deserts, and kasbahs. And I’m lucky enough to be going again this May.

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We didn’t let the heat stop us in Palm Springs during the annual PRSA (Public Relations Society of America) Travel and Tourism Conference. I was invited to lead a full-day photo workshop on behalf of National Geographic.

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While in Palm Springs I decided I had to visit nearby Joshua Tree National Park. I absolutely loved the Dr. Seuss-like plants in a landscape that felt like Mars. I think returning to JTNP has to be New Year’s resolution #3.

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In July, I went to Montana and Wyoming to lead my first National Geographic Student Expedition. Along with four student leaders, we taught photography to 30 high school students while exploring Yellowstone National Park. I was so impressed with the energy and vision of that group of young people; read about it here. This July I’ll be the Nat Geo Expert on the Yosemite and San Francisco Photo Workshop.

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It is lovely when things come full circle. In 2004 I worked at the Santa Fe Photographic Workshops as a course assistant and 2017 found me teaching my first workshop there. I had a wonderful class who took on the challenge of photographing Santa Fe and ended the week with unique travel stories. I’ll be returning this June to teach “The New World of Travel Photography” for the second time.

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When I found out that the path of totality for the 2017 Great American Eclipse on August 21st was only 16 miles north of my home in Oregon, I had to go. With family and friends, we watched near a historic cemetery in rural Oregon and discovered the absolute wonder of being in totality. New Year’s resolution #4: Get into totality again….and again.

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The theme of natural wonders continued when I went to Alaska and British Columbia in September for Lindblad/National Geographic Expeditions. While taking boat rides around the South Sawyer Glacier, the sun broke through thick grey clouds and bestowed us with the most magical moments of light and rainbows. Throw in amazing brown bear sitings, bubble-net feeding humpback whales, jaw-dropping landscapes, and Northern Lights, I think I still am on a high from all that natural beauty. I can’t wait to return to Alaska this June.

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I returned to Santa Fe in October to teach a private workshop with my friend and colleague Jennifer Davidson. Our timing allowed us to take our group to the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta to photograph “mass ascension” one beautiful morning.

Shimane Prefecture Japan

In October I arrived in Japan alongside Typhoon Lan. Being on assignment for National Geographic Travel and Japan National Tourism Organization, I didn’t have time to spare despite strong winds and pouring rain. Luckily, I’d packed all my rain gear from my prior trip to Alaska and was ready to photograph the Oki Islands in any weather.

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But not all of my days in Japan were filled with rain! I explored more of the Shimane region including onsen towns and perfectly manicured gardens. And I ended the assignment near Hiroshima shooting the iconic O-Torii gate on Miyajima Island.

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In November and December, I joined an outstanding photo team including Brian Skerry, Michael Melford, Jennifer Davidson, and Ralph Lee Hopkins for the Epic Galápagos Photo Expedition. We had an enthusiastic group of photographers on board and I was lucky enough to have my parents (pictured) in the group!

I’m excited about all the adventures that lie ahead for 2018. So far I’ve been photo editing a book for National Geographic and in a few days I pick up my passport and head to the Peruvian Amazon for Lindblad/National Geographic Expeditions. Wishing you a wonderful year!

On Newsstands: Cape Town in National Geographic Traveler

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Artists Dani Le Roy (left) and Laura Summs (right) work on one of their signature crochet rugs in the studio of Moonbasket. They create pendant lights, stiffened bowls, jewelry, and motif carpets using crochet and they hire and empower women from the Khayalitsha township to produce the bulk of their materials.

Last November while I was visiting Cape Town, I was given a short assignment by my friend and former colleague Carol Enquist to photograph the Woodstock neighborhood of Cape Town for National Geographic Traveler magazine. With Cape Town being named World Design Capital for 2014, it was the perfect time to explore Woodstock, a neighborhood filled with designers, artists, and innovation tucked at the foot of Devils Peak. I roamed the colorful streets and popped into old warehouses turned new, looking for subjects for my lens, falling more in love with this South African city by the minute. Along the way I was also lucky enough to get to meet up with the writer of the piece, the talented Sarah Khan who is now living in Cape Town.

Go grab the April 2014 issue of National Geographic Traveler off of newsstands and stay tuned here for a blog post of some outtakes from the shoot. Then be prepared to want to book a one-way ticket to the Mother City.

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The article on Woodstock ran in National Geographic Traveler‘s Best of the World section and a photo from the artist DALeast‘s studio at Side Street Studios ran on the contents pages of the April 2014 issue.