If you have been following this blog long enough, you might have noticed that 2019 was the last year I wrote a “year in review” recap for. I think forcing myself to write a list of my annual accomplishments is overall a positive thing, but what about those years I feel like I had no accomplishments or personal growth? The pressure to prove something of self worth can have a negative effect.
I think it is safe to say that for many of us 2020 was a real challenge, dealing with the emerging global COVID-19 pandemic and the confusion that followed. 2021 was slightly better (or maybe we just got used to the situation), but here we are in 2022 and although things are slightly better we are still not out of it. I can’t help thinking if one day we will look back on this and chuckle “hehe, remember COVID??” As for me, I had a few trips planned in 2020, of course none of them materialized as commercial flights got grounded very quickly and borders closed. Later when travel restrictions were somewhat lifted I made the conscious decision not to travel. It was the responsible thing to do, and I still feel that way, despite seeing many (many!) of my photographer friends taking advantage of the low cost flights for photo trips. I promised myself that I would never get political on this blog (and online in general), I prefer doing it in person. So this is as much as I will mention the topic.
While people around the world were searching for ways to entertain themselves at home during lockdowns, spending quality time with their families, perfecting their sourdough bread baking skills and learning to speak German, I took a step back to reflect. I looove self-reflection. I believe I’ve said it before on this blog: every time you have a chance to reevaluate what is important in your life, you should take it. I needed a breather. I took a break from taking photos and tried to focus on other things. I reorganized my living space (again). I thought a lot about what kind of jobs I would be willing to take now that public gatherings were cancelled and most of my income was gone. Of course I could have transitioned some of it to virtual meetings over the Zoom platform, but oh man I hate it so much. Anyway, all that thinking was quality time spent. Guess what didn’t make the cut into what I felt was important in life? Social media… I’m still going to keep my public accounts active, with Twitter getting most of the attention, but it was clear as day to me that I wanted to go back to writing on this website and investing more into it. Unfortunately, with the chaos surrounding everything, it was difficult to find the motivation to do it.
This begs the question, is it even worth it? Isn’t blogging dead? Some will argue that blogging has died a long time ago. Others will stress that it hasn’t really died, but instead switched medium into podcasts, and later video essays. I also view activity on Twitter as mini-blogging, although the limitations of the platform do not allow for very elaborate posts, so it’s something more like tease-blogging. One thing is clear – regardless of the medium, blogging takes a lot of time and effort, with no guaranteed rewards at the end. In my opinion, there is still room for traditional blogging because it is indexed so well by search engines, can easily be updated and kept on track with the times, and there is no need to satisfy some obscure algorithm on a platform that you do not own and have no control over. I still see some of my old posts getting a lot of traffic, despite similar posts in other, more accessible formats. This tells me having a website with good and valid content is still king. You know what really is dead though? MySpace. Google+. And one day it can be your current favorite social media platform. Please pause for a moment to think about that.
One thing you might have noticed is that I activated Google Adsense on this blog. Not on every post, just on very old or less informative posts (like this one!) that I do not consider cornerstone content. This was not done for generating income (I assure you that it is extremely difficult to earn anything from this revenue stream nowadays), but more for personal reasons of keeping the account active.
Photography-wise, at the end of 2019 one of my goals was to finish clearing up the backlog in my photo archive, and indeed I made a huge progress. But even with this type of work I had to stop and take a long break from it at some point, because you can’t sit in front of the computer all day and do just that, every day, it’s not a way to live. I used this break as an excuse to test out different printing formats and media and the results were eye-opening, so I’m glad I did it. One more thing I did was to crack down on commercial copyright infringements, especially unauthorized monetized use on YouTube. Enough is enough. And, if I have to be completely honest, many of the image licenses that followed as a result kept me fed during 2020-2021.
Alright, this post feels like I’m rambling as if the past two years had no accomplishments at all to be proud of. That’s not true. The TV series I took part in was released, I had a paper published. Even without me listing personal goals achieved, there is one big accomplishment that I just cannot ignore. I have been painfully silent about my four winning images in the 2021 Wildlife Photographer of the Year Competition. I swear it is not because I try to downplay the importance of this achievement (more on that in a separate blog post), but the main reason is that I didn’t have the time to sit and write about it. The press and media coverage of the competition results is overwhelming to say the least, and only now, four months after the winners were announced, I can say that I am starting to feel the response slowing down a little. Nevertheless, the Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition has just started its worldwide tour, so it is far from over. Because of this, I am going to dedicate the next five blog posts to talking about the competition: one post for each winning photo (kind of a Q&A), and one opinion post about photo competitions in general and Wildlife Photographer of the Year specifically. Did you see how I turned this “year in review” post into a promotional one?? Well done, Gil, give yourself a pat on the back… Will I write more annual recap posts like this one in the future? As you can see, over the years these posts became more and more personal and less informative. They were more for me, but I looking back at them now I don’t think they hold much value to other people. So I don’t know, something tells me that I probably won’t post recaps in the future. Separate topic posts are much more interesting and reader-friendly.