Top 50 Fan Photos of 2020

As always, it was a pleasure to compile the best photographs of the year from the thousands of pictures you folks have submitted to my Fan Photo of the Day on our How to Photograph Your Life Facebook page.

Finding the top 50 photographs and then putting them in order is always a challenge that feels if not impossible then a little bit silly. At the risk of sounding falsely modest, I mean really, who am I to make this call? I guess on some level having a secure ego is probably a more important prerequisite for this job than having reasonably decent photographic taste. Regardless, somebody has to do it, so I chose me.

I just keep plowing ahead and there seems to be very little resistance. I do love doing this so thanks for letting me behave as though I know what I’m doing.

Also, every year I swear I’m going to have this done by January 1 and every year I swear because I don’t. It’s a long, long story but it’s just difficult to get this done over the holidays and lots of personal stuff and lots of international political, medical disaster stuff.

Maybe it’s just me or maybe it’s just my imagination but the subject matter of the photographs this year seems a little bit more subdued than past years.  Maybe it’s the overall effect of the coronavirus or maybe, like I said, it’s just my imagination.

The difficulty of the process has been compounded by the fact that my wife, Anne, and my two sons, Alexander, 15, and Teddy,13, have decided that they are now official, self-appointed members of the decision-making committee and so what used to be a 90 minute process has turned into something closer to a task that is measured in days. Not kidding. 

You may notice that two of the judges have pictures in the final compilation. Alexander and Teddy have both taken pictures this year that are worthy of a few moments in the spotlight. So we have added slots number 51 and number 52 as Honorable Mentions for the Kelsh boys. Of course, predictably, they got into an argument over who should be 51 and who should be 52. That tie was broken by their father. A picture of a burning car (my car) is almost always going to beat a picture of a cute teddy bear with a cute cat in just about any respectable photo contest. At least it does in this one. Subject matter counts.

Finally, I can’t remember the last time we’ve ever had a serious disagreement or argument on this site. (Well, on second thought, there was that lady who got a little feisty with me but was then smacked down by so many of you  that she never came back. Good riddance, I say! Nobody calls me a know-it-all  and walks away unscathed.)

But seriously, for all of the stress and strain of 2020 we have held together for yet another year. I’ve said it before and I mean it every time. It is the tone of companionship and mentorship on this page that is the glue. For that, I thank all of you, whether or not you have a photograph in the top 50 or the top 5000 or whether you just sit in the corner admiring the work of others waiting for that day when you finally post that photo of the chickadee at your bird feeder thinking no one will notice it, or worse, like it. Wrong and wrong.

It’s pretty clear that 2021 is still not going to be a day at the beach for many of us. But like learning to play the piano or learning to build a house, learning to take good photographs will make you stronger, kinder, and a better citizen of the world. Just the fact that you are reading these words means you have what it takes to brighten up your little corner of the planet with your camera. There are so many people on our site that can help you do this. In fact, it’s become quite obvious over the years that many of them come here not to share their own work, which they do with a big heart, but to receive yours.

Get close, then get closer! (Socially distanced, of course.)

And for those of you who may be unfamiliar with our FAN PHOTO OF THE DAY, or who have never posted and would like to, click to expand the section below:

How does our popular FAN PHOTO OF THE DAY feature on Facebook work?

First, you’re going to want to FOLLOW us on FACEBOOK to view or participate in our FPOD. So if you’re not already a FAN of our page click here to FOLLOW us now and set your setting preferences to be sure to see our Fan Photo of the Day in your daily newsfeed.

Every week or two I make a post on our page asking for your photo contributions. You can post them in a comment under that post. I will see them for sure. (We have found this to be the easiest way to post pics for everyone. Facebook keeps reinventing the system and this is a bit of a work around. It’s quite simple, though.)

Then 6 days a week / 52 weeks a year, I post what I call a Fan Photo of the Day (FPOTD).  I grab a picture from the fan postings I mentioned above and write a few words about why that particular picture struck my fancy. (Well, it’s almost 6 times 52 weeks a year. I miss a few days here and there.)

Then at the end of each year, I gather all of the FPOTD and with the help of my sons, my wife, my mother-in-law, various aunts and uncles and siblings I choose and rank the “Top Fifty.” This is not easy and I’m often treated as the least respected opinion in the room but we plow ahead anyway.

The gathering of these judges pretty much puts a spotlight on just how silly this whole process is. People’s opinions are all over the shop. Your opinions would be too. I mean really, what’s better  photo, a soldier on a playground swing or fox on a rock? Our judges committee went with the soldier. Go figure. Like I said, it makes no sense, but it’s all it good fun. On another day the same judges looking at the same set of photographs just might have gone with the sunset landscape…or the baby jumping on the bed. Or none of them. Judges are like that.

Also—and this is important—never underestimate the power of giving a compliment. I know that many of you will likely be disappointed when you see that your most deserving photograph didn’t make the cut. I’ve been skunked on more occasions than I care to remember or share. It’s not a great feeling, I know. But I promise you this. Engaging with and complimenting the 50 only slightly happier photographers will take you out of this minor emotional slump quicker than anything I know. (Going out and shooting a great picture and posting it on www.facebook.com/HowToPhotographYourLife for 2021 consideration helps, too. Shooting a great photograph is a cure all for lots of things.

Also—and this is important—never underestimate the power of giving a compliment. I know that many of you will likely be disappointed when you see that your most deserving photograph didn’t make the cut. I’ve been skunked on more occasions than I care to remember or share. It’s not a great feeling, I know. But I promise you this. Engaging with and complimenting the 50 only slightly happier photographers will take you out of this minor emotional slump quicker than anything I know. (Going out and shooting a great picture and posting it on www.facebook.com/HowToPhotographYourLife for 2021 consideration helps, too. Shooting a great photograph is a cure all for lots of things.

My whole point is this. Please take advantage of the comments area under each of the photographs. If the photographs are the heart of this project, than the comments may just be the soul.

And finally, we’ve attached various social media share buttons on the photographs that will allow you to share your photo recognition with your friends and family and/or just tell the world that we exist. The more people that know about us, the better the photographs. The better the photographs on our site, the better photographer you become and that’s what it’s all about.

Congratulations to the “winners” but congratulations to all of the rest of you who have posted pictures this year too. You’ve made the world a more beautiful place with your camera. Thank you for that.

And so, without further blah blah from me, I am proud to present the Top 50 Fan Photos of 2020.

Enjoy, and Happy New Year! I’ll look forward to seeing your 2021 photos on our Facebook page!

Stay in focus.

Nick Kelsh

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