I'm at a bit of a loss as to where to start in reviewing 2012. It has been an awesome blessing of a year for me and so, so much has happened. Pinpointing just one place to highlight would be impossible, but it has all been awesome. In 2012, I have travelled through seventeen different states. I started out the year with my final semester of college in Columbia, Missouri — one of my favorite places in the world. I graduated with a Bachelors of Journalism (a BJ, as I like to call it) after taking one of my favorite courses from school — A Picture Story with Rita Reed. In that class, I learned and laughed and stressed so much, and Rita's words still echo through my head today.
I produced some of my favorite stories of my career in that Picture Story class, most notably my Off The Gridstory about a group of people who live without electricity for a more meaningful life. Not only was it a blessing to photograph people without electricity (hello awesome window light!), but being around them was inspiring and relaxing and very enjoyable. I had a wonderful experience with them and am grateful for the time they shared with me.
And of course, graduation was a blast and a curse — a bittersweet moment, as to be expected. But I had the world open before me, and an internship at The Oregonian in Portland, Oregon — a summer that I now refer to as one of the best summers, ever.
Summer in Portland is a magical experience, and between craft beers and VooDoo donuts with the other interns, I took pictures and loved every minute of it. I struggled a bit with questioning my career path, however — things were a bit bleak with The O's publisher, Advance, and I felt a bit disillustioned after the comfy setting of J-School. It was a lesson in the role of business and publishing in journalism, and a valuable, though shocking, experience I don't know if I could've found anywhere else.
Though I was unsure of my future at the time, I was especially grateful to have a slew of helpful ears and eyes to mentor me through the summer. Beth Nakamura, Thomas Boyd, Randy Cox, Lynne Terry and others were endlessly there for me in my magical intern journey, and I am lucky to have had their help.
Leaving Portland, I took a beautiful journey through Yellowstone and The West with Tyler, with a short pitstop in Kansas City. And then it was on to Dallas for a fall internship at The Dallas Morning News, thanks to the wonderful Chris Wilkins.
My time there was quite intermittent and because of the lack of an oven at Michael Ainsworth's house, where I stayed, I couldn't make my traditional "intern who fattens everyone up with cupcakes and cookies" introduction. Though my time in Dallas was short, due to an exciting early and unexpected job offer in Virginia, I feel like I took more pictures there that I am proud of than anywhere else. It just goes to show how important an amazing editing staff is, and The DMN's got it.
Of course, when I was in Dallas, I also hopped over back to Missouri for the magical week of the Missouri Photo Workshop. I met some fantastic people, both photographers and residents of Troy, Missouri, and the idea of community journalism was revitalized within me. It was perfect, because my next step was about to become a position that would herald just that — a job at a small town newspaper in Staunton, Virginia. My first job!
So here I am now — a degree, a workshop and two internships later — in Virginia. I've had a lot of firsts this year. Of course, I got my first job, though I also spent my first holiday away from my family. But I'm so glad I'm here — this area is gorgeous and it seems appropriate to end it here, with what was a New Year's Resolution from the beginning (employment).
Throughout this year, I've made so many friends, and met so many inspiring people that have pushed me to become a better person and helped me achieve my goals. I think it would be impossible to name them all, but I end this year with a wonderful taste of both amazing strangers and cherished loved ones who are the reason I am where I am now. My journey to whatever I'm going to become is not even close to being over, but I'm at a great jumping off place for the future here in Staunton. Here's to 2013, and whatever it brings!