photo by Kim MacDonald Cameron
Our celebration of moments in life, lovingly preserved by the people who live them.
Thank you to all who share your memories with us.
I look forward to this all year long. It’s become a little annual ritual at my house between Christmas and New Year’s.
I get to sift out the best of the best photos that have been posted by the talented photographers who share their work on our Facebook page, How to Photograph Your Life, and give 50 photographers one more, well-deserved pat on the back. It’s still a thrill for me.
I’ve also had Pulitzer Prize winners and National Geographic Directors of Photography tell me they were impressed with individual photos they’ve seen on our page—they’re fans, too. That’s a big deal. Those people are extremely tight lipped on the compliments and when they say it they mean it.
The FPOTD has become such a part of my daily and weekly routine. I’ve officially declared that I’ve chosen and written about more than 1500 photographs; that’s a conservative estimate. If I knew the exact number I would share it with you but organization isn’t my strong suit and so I’ve conservatively rounded down.
I can tell you this, however. I have written FPOTDs from cars, hotels, beds, beaches, classrooms, libraries, vacation cabins, park benches, hospitals, the back of a pickup truck, and of course my trusty, secluded, dark basement office at the international headquarters of How to Photograph Your Life.
Choosing photographs is so serendipitous. Honestly, if I came back to these same 50 photographs one year from now with one year older eyes they could be drastically reordered, I’m sure. Yes, #14 and #33 may flip flop positions on another day; there is no accounting for taste—especially mine.
And there’s no doubt that it would be embarrassing for me to share with you the photographs that didn’t make it into the top 50. You would be appalled that certain, individual shots didn’t seem to rise to the top. Honestly, if you’re the photographer that shot one of those pictures and you’re wondering why it missed out on this year-end celebration of greatness, please don’t be too hard on yourself—or me.
On the first pass through 2016’s 312 Fan Photos of the Day, I came up with 94 final contenders. That left me with the difficult chore of removing 44 photographs from a place of honor. Last year the first cut left me with closer to 160 final shots. I’ve learned my lesson. I’m going to have to ruthless at some point, it may as well be on the first round.
But I do find comfort in the fact that all 312 FPOTD were once singled out for public acclaim. They touched me. They moved me. They made my children laugh and my wife cry. Me, too.
There are so many different criteria to consider when you’re narrowing down a large pile of photographs to a medium-sized pile. Did this picture work its way into my heart? Does that picture have any technical flaws? What’s a better photograph—a hauntingly beautiful black and white portrait of a young girl with mesmerizing eyes, a frost frozen cabin in Cody, Wyoming, or a young, soot-covered boy who seems to be single handedly running an entire railroad? I have no answer for that. I honestly don’t know the answer because, well, there isn’t one.
It’s dawned on me that the only way to get this difficult job done is to pretend like you know what you’re doing and plow ahead. And that is what you find here today—a photographic field plowed by a loving farmer photographer doing his job as best he can on this particular day. I know that The Fan Photo of the Day means a lot to many of you and I take it very seriously. Please know that.
Also, for those of you who have come here today looking for photographic inspiration, note that so many of the photographs in the top 50 are unexpected, unpredictable moments of real people living their real lives. It never gets better than that if you’re the person standing behind the camera, fumbling with your f-stops and shutter speeds, trying to find a way to express your feelings about the diversity of the human experience. I’m a better photographer for The Fan Photo of the Day and I hope that you are, too.
If you shoot a photograph in 2017 that you think is a contender all you need do is post it on our Facebook page, How to Photograph Your Life. Take a chance. Come in out of the shadows. One of the most memorable moments in the life of any photographer is the day they step over the line and share that picture they think just might be good enough. If that day has never happened for you, I hope that it happens in 2017.
And if there’s a friendlier Facebook page on the Internet than How to Photograph Your Life, I don’t know what it is. We’re blessed with an abundance of kindness and thoughtfulness here and I thank all of our fans who have for yet another year made that possible.
Stay in focus,