(Above: Me and one of my best friends, Jacob Byk, ringing in 2016 in New York City. A $6.00 seltzer water that was. Just saying.)
2016: I went into a new year with a new degree and a big unknown feeling. I moved back from Columbus (last December) after completing an internship with The Columbus Dispatch and began endlessly applying to things and visualizing myself in different potential jobs and places.
After a few months of over-thinking my every move, I simplified things by reminding myself to "just keep making pictures." It was an odd concept at first. I was no longer technically working for a paper or publication; there was no editor to tell me to go do something. I had free rein to make pictures (or not). But I did. And this conclusion turned much of my struggle of the unknown to joy---and work. It sounds really silly reflecting on it now, but it felt very real when I was sitting in my childhood bedroom with no clue where to go or what to shoot for a while.
So I started shooting photos of my nephew and dog and went to some events that interested me and made coffee with amazing coworkers. Eventually I started getting a more solid flow of freelance while I kept making coffee and taking pictures of my nephew and dog etc. etc...
As far as my favorite images from the year go: Some of them I was paid as a freelancer. Some of them I showed up as an unpaid photographer. Some of them I made for me or my family. Some of them with an iPhone. And some of them I shot as a full-time photographer for the Akron Beacon Journal, where I am very fortunate to be employed now.
I feel very lucky to work in a city that is home to me. (I've stressed this to many non-journalists who ask about my job. I am lucky to be where I am and in a full-time position so quickly and so close to home).
If I learned anything this year that I can pass on to some of my post-grad PJ friends riding the struggle bus it is this:
Meanwhile, keep making pictures. There is a lot of joy and growth hidden in the struggle to do this type of work. (Good timing helps too!)
Richard Kamin of New Jersey poses for a portrait outside Quicken Loans Arena during the RNC on Monday, July 18, 2016 in Cleveland.
Matt Seman, 28, of Lakewood poses for a portrait in his Hitler costume he wore at the rally for Donald Trump, held at the IX Center on Saturday, March 12, 2016 in Cleveland.
Russell Adkins of Akron cheers on race competitors at Barberton Speedway on Saturday, April 21, 2016 in Norton.
Hudson defensive lineman Kyle Rediger consoles teammate Sean Weigel after losing the Division II State Semifinal game against Perry on Friday, Nov. 25, 2016 at Lake High School Stadium in Uniontown. Perry defeated Hudson 14-3.
Fans react to a homer by Jose Ramirez at the watch party for Game Five of the World Series on Sunday, Oct. 28, 2016 at Progressive Field in Cleveland.
Andrew in March.
Chaz Modarelli (left), 5, gives his mom, Elizabeth Modarelli (right) a kiss while admiring the views of Gorge Metropolitan Park during a hike on Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2016 in Cuyahoga Falls. Tuesday's weather was a high of 59 degrees and sunny in Cuyahoga Falls.
Dale Coreia waits to take the track in his Minions car at Barberton Speedway on Saturday, April 21, 2016 in Norton.
Police force line the sidewalks of Prospect Ave as protestors come through at the RNC on Monday, July 18, 2016 in Cleveland.
Wihelmina Lang, 5, of Akron dances with a balloon during a performance by the Verb Ballet of Northeast Ohio at the Akron Art Museum's official opening of the Bud and Susie Rogers Garden on Saturday in Akron.
Cleveland Browns running back Duke Johnson enters FirstEnergy Stadium to face the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday, Nov. 6, 2016 in Cleveland.
Gary McBride, 2, of Cuyahoga Falls, wears a sailor hat to represent for the Burning River Adventures team at the Cardboard Boat Race event hosted by TWO MEN AND A TRUCK on Sunday, September 11, 2016 at Turkeyfoot Beach of Portage Lakes in Akron.
Andreas Esparza of Kent (right) cheers on democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders as he takes the stage at Akron Civic Theatre on Monday, March 14, 2016 in Akron
Lake Catholic's Mateo Medancic takes a moment the grieve on the field after Revere beat Lake Catholic on Saturday, Nov. 5, 2016 at the OHSAA Division 2 Regional Soccer Tournament in Solon. Revere beat Lake Catholic 2-0 for the title.
Burn patient Jerry Miller, 11, of Dundee is examined at a doctors appointment on Thursday, Dec. 15, 2016 at Akron Children's Hospital in Akron. Eighty-five percent of Jerry's body was burned on June 1 when Jerry lit a fire with Kerosene to prepare breakfast with his brothers. His mother heard an explosion and went outside to find Jerry running around with his clothes on fire.
Store owner Yoga Dhimal stands for a portrait Dhimal's Mini Market on E. Cuyahoga Falls Ave. on Wednesday, March 9, 2016 in Akron.
Clevelanders watch as protestors march down Euclid Avenue at the Shut Down Trump & the RNC march on Sunday, July 17, 2016 in Cleveland. Protestors walked from 36th and Euclid Avenue and ended at Willard Park.
Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders speaks at Akron Civic Theatre on Monday, March 14, 2016 in Akron.
A young Cleveland fan reacts at the Cubs take the lead in the tenth inning of World Series Game Seven on November 2, 2016 in Cleveland.
Legos in January.
D.C. squirrel frenzy in March.
Jackie Lekas, 64, of North Olmsted stands with a wreath at her husband's grave at Western Reserve National Cemetery on Saturday, Dec. 17, 2016 in Rittman. John W. Lekas passed away last April. Jackie was surprised to find a wreath already placed at his grave when she arrived. Graves were decorated with 7,500 donated wreaths followed by a ceremony.
Leslie Ingoll of Akron will start the new year with his license back in his hand. Ingoll has been without a valid driver's license for four years after getting an OVI charge and being penalized for driving without insurance. He is almost done navigating the complicated and pricey path back to driving privileges which means he will get a full-time job from his current employer.
Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton takes a selfie with an adoring supporter after speaking at Cuyahoga Community College on Tuesday, March 8, 2016 in Cleveland. Clinton spent a half hour after her speech greeting backers.