Earlier in December, I was given my annual performance review at work, and I figured I’d do the same for myself on a personal basis. This is largely inspired by Chris Guillebeau’s 2011 Annual Review he conducts on his alternative lifestyle website The Art of Non-Conformity.
His post format encourages readers to first look back at the year, evaluating what went well, and what didn’t. It’s a means of fully taking in and fully appreciating a year’s worth of events before looking ahead to what the new year brings. Personally, 2011 was a year for photos which I can fortunately document by looking over my Flickr account. I faithfully uploaded Flickr photo sets to encapsulate major events of 2011, and as of today have 180 sets to close out the year. Whew, that’s a lot.
13 music festivals
10 KEXP in-Studios
9 travel destinations
Anyway, what went well in 2011: my freelancing “career” and family time.
2011 was my first full year as a freelance photographer/writer, and I have to say it exceeded expectations. For someone who started out as a writer, I find it funny my photography portfolio is as big as it is. While 2010 felt to me like it focused heavily on the music aspect of journalism and photography, 2011 branched out into the fields of travel, cultural, and community aspects. Even South By Southwest and the Doe Bay Festival, both of which I was fortunate to attend in 2011, felt like more of a travel/cultural events than a music ones. In 2011, my role in concert photography felt largely expanded. I was privileged to shoot concerts while traveling in Hawaii, Austin, and Los Angeles. I got to cross tons of band names off my bucket list including Rage Against the Machine, Foo Fighters, Kanye West & Jay Z, Blink 182, Journey, to name a few. Oh and of course, a mention in Pitchfork is pretty swell too. All in all, it was a great first year as a concert photography freelancer.
Thanks to my amazing social network, I was able to expand into other areas of photography. It was great for not only building my skill set and network, but also helping fund my gear purchases. I have to give a shout out to Eater Seattle, Metromix Seattle, The Stranger, and Capitol Hill Seattle blog for letting me pursue media coverage in culinary, special events, fashion, and small businesses. Several events led to more bucket list celebrity encounters with the likes of William Shatner, James Cameron, CCH Pounder, and Annie Leibovitz. Also, a big thank you to Mr. Phoenix Jones for our one year follow up interview session which leaves me with more admiration for him than ever.
While the entertainment photography and media world were full of goodies in 2011, the theme that was the heaviest throughout the year was that of family. In 2011, I got to see my immediate family TWICE. It may not seem like a lot, but that’s the most family time I’ve had in 7 years. It was refreshing and much-needed. I started the year off in Hawaii, visiting my parents and extended family, and am ending it in Idaho with a relatively new side of my family.
In between, I had the rare privilege of meeting family I never knew existed: my biological father and grandmother. That November trip to Seoul was the most life-changing week of my entire life, and I will never forget all of the new faces I met there.
What didn’t go well in 2011: umm…
I have the hardest time coming up with negative answers, but if I’m to be truly honest, the answers should be maintaining friendships and fostering a professional career. I prefer not to get into details as this is a public blog post, but I will offer this: I recognize that social media and virtual networking is a double-edged sword. It’s great for keeping in touch with people, but at the same time, it removes personal connection by making people lazy. Example: why would I want to call someone and ask how they are when I can read about it (or a version of it) on Facebook? It’s a horrible way to think, but it happens all the time. This leads me to my next point.
My Hopes for 2012: Defy gravity.
Again, I’m not inclined to dive deep into detail on a public blog, but here’s a summary. In essence, I’d like to take personal connections offline and into the real world. This applies to each of my three hopes–quit Facebook stalking people and meet up in real life; stop wanderlusting virtually and start making some travel plans; turn all these dreams of location independence into reality. It won’t be easy, but it’ll be fun if I have any say in it.