It is that time of year yet again where the promises and resolutions of a new year fuse with the reflections of what the last 12 months meant to each of us. While 2012 was a year of growth for me and my photography businesses, 2013 was about broadening my horizons, expanding business opportunities and cherishing the time I had with my family. Lets take a look at the recap of 2013 before I share my favorite images of the year.
The Giving Lens
My humanitarian photography company, The Giving Lens, had a wonderful year, successfully running trips to Peru, Nicaragua, India, Tanzania and Cambodia to help fight for a number of causes such as child education, families affected by HIV, women’s empowerment and those living in extreme poverty. 2014 is shaping up to be another great year for TGL as well with trips to Jordan, Peru, Nicaragua, Tanzania, Cambodia, India & Thailand (along with others in the works). The idea is to continue to expand our operations and begin to work with new organizations in new countries that are supporting projects focused on clean drinking water, species preservation and protecting the ocean. While I don’t have the ability to go on every trip, it truly warms my heart to be able to continue to get like minded people together to help make a difference in the world through the art of photography. Moving forward, TGL and myself are looking for more and more ways to get people involved, especially those that can’t join us on our trips.
The Business of Photography
On top of leading two great photography workshops with my good friend Ken Kaminesky in Iceland, 2013 gave me the opportunity to work with a number of new companies including Phase One, Sony, Toshiba, HTC, Nokia, Motorola while also writing a new e-book titled “Android Photography – Take Better Photos With Your Android Phone or Tablet”. Additionally I worked on a number of marketing campaigns, including ones for entities such as the Australian Government and the State of North Carolina among others. My income from photography comes from a wide variety of sources, which is something I have worked hard to achieve over the years. However there is always room for improvements and you will see a number of new ventures for me in 2014; including online workshops, multiple e-books, photo editing presets and more co-branded products available in stores around the globe, such as my “Colby Brown Signature Edition Landscape Photography Filter Kit” that I worked on with the great people over at Formatt Hitech this past year.
It is no secret that I don’t think of photography as a competition and have never consider myself to be the “best” photographer in the world…2013 certainly didn’t change my mindset. While some photographers might balk at the idea of the business side of photography, I am some what fortunate in the fact that I actually love it, which has helped me get to where I am today. In my mind there is no reason that one can’t be “creative” when it comes to networking, advertising, branding and marketing one’s companies. In 2013 I set out to expand my various photography companies brands reach and have been incredibly happy with the results, making it the most financially successful year to date. In 2013, I continued the mindset of thinking 10 steps down the road, rather than focus on short term gains. In my opinion, one must learn to think beyond just what is happening today or tomorrow, and begin to look 6, 12, 18 months down the line. The best place to start is to create a business plan of your own.
Making Room For Personal Projects
While I continue to focus on the year on year financial growth of my businesses, I always make room for personal projects/trips along the way. Many photographers think that it has to be about business all the time, but where is the fun in that? Early in my career I got a very big break by getting hired by National Geographic to teach photography workshops in South America for a number of months and one of the things that stuck with me was the conversations with other much more established Nat Geo photographers. Nearly every one of them initially got hired or got a job with Nat Geo partly because of their work on a personal project that they were passionate about. Most never garnered much financial gain from their projects, but they never set out to do it for the money in the first place. The pursued these projects because it spoke to them as artists and individuals first and foremost.
Outside of my projects with The Giving Lens, each year I try to knock atleast a few of items off my “Bucket List”. In April I finally made my way to Northern Arizona and got to explore Coyote Buttes South, White Pocket and Antelope Canyon with my good friend and travel photo partner in crime Peyton Hale. In March I finally got to return to Australia after a 7 year absence and I was also fortunate to spend a month in East Africa, focusing on a variety of projects with the Maasai, families with HIV and the wildlife of the Serengeti. Near the end of the year I was able to spend two weeks exploring Myanmar, a country that had caught my attention years ago. While tourism is starting to pour in since it became some what of a Democratic State less than two years ago, Myanmar still offers a very unique and special look at what SE Asia was like years ago. Lastly, my good friend and TGL photographer Michael Bonocore and I spent a number of days in northern Thailand for the Yi Peng and Loi Krathong lantern festivals (seen in the photo to the left). To round out the year, once Typhoon Yoland hit the Philippines, I felt compelled to travel to the worst hit areas and document the lives of those most effected. I connected with Jacob Maentz, a local US born photographer, and spent a number of days in Tacloban. If you get a chance, check out Jacob’s work as he is a phenomenal photographer.
All this being said, most of you that know me know that there is always an opportunity cost to the work that I do. Working as a travel photographer is great, but I always miss my family back home when I am on the road. In 2013 I made sure to schedule a number of family specific trips while also attempting (albit poorly at times) to spend more time at home. Moving forward, the plan as usual, is to continue to work smarter…not harder. To continue to hire more employees, spend more time with my family and work on more projects that speak to my heart.
Favorite Images of 2013
As I mentioned previously, 2013 was a very busy year for me and outside of exclusive contract work, I didn’t have much time to edit and share my images with everyone. It is for this reason that most of these images have never been seen publicly before, which brings me to a similar point I brought up during my 2012 Year in Reflection. Too often I see photographers focus on the number of “Likes” or “+1’s” a photo gets to determine its worth, which to me is absolutely ridiculous. If we all adopted this mindset, the world would think that Brittany Spears is the best singer and that cat videos on YouTube are far better that Academy Award winning movies because they get more social interaction.
All in all, I prefer to bring things back to the personal nature of the creation of art in the first place. The story behind an image and the personal experiences that an image can represent should, in my mind, offer far much more value to an artist than how many other photographers press a button to “Like” a photo on Facebook.
Over the next few weeks I will release each of these images via Google+ & Facebook, where I will talk about the story behind the image, how it was edited and what each photo means to me. Until than, enjoy! *Click on the images to see a larger version.