If I say the name of the year, it confirms its existence, so let’s just dive right in.
The photo industry came to a screeching halt in March and rightfully so. I’ll be the first to say it: although I find photography incredibly valuable, it’s absolutely non-essential during a worldwide health crisis. Luckily, I was still able to find some wonderful people to safely work with this year, and I can’t wait for you to see some of the new projects I’ve been cooking up.
I’ve been pretty good about updating my Instagram and Facebook page with photos, but this poor blog needs some love. So here in all its glory are some of my favorites from this unrelenting year.
Baby Logan is one of the coolest people I met this year. He entered the world and needed a little extra attention, so his incredible parents spent 35 days visiting him one at a time in the NICU because of COVID restrictions. It took them over a month to be together as a family, so our shoot together was his “newborn” photoshoot. ?
Jess and Ron have become great friends over the years, so it was wonderful to get to meet their little girl. Their son is already buds with my daughter, so we’re basically best friends already. Ronnie ran about 6 miles in 30 minutes because he has endless toddler energy. I, on the other hand, haven’t run in years and I’d like to keep it that way.
This family needs no introduction. They’ve been on this blog a few times over the years, and every time, it seems to be with more silly poses. I won’t tell you which of them I had to bribe to smile by saying “Dan butt”.
Spoiler: It was all of them.
I got to meet Sacha and her family a few years ago at an event celebrating Harry Potter. If that doesn’t speak to their wonderful character, then I’ll say this: they’re kind, insightful, easygoing people and made s shoot with seven people a total breeze.
If you’re playing along at home, you’ve definitely seen this guy before. He and his sister wanted some nice Fall photos. He didn’t specify that he didn’t actually want a photo with her, but he made sure to tell me in other ways, like by sprinting up a huge leaf pile. Toddlers, man. I need to start exercising more.
Seriously, these two are such sweet kids, and we really did have a fun time trying to wrangle them for some nice photos.
COVID-19 took a lot of things from a lot of people, but for this year’s senior class, it meant that their senior pictures were also sacrificed. All the stars aligned for this shoot and it turned out to be one of my favorites all year.
A local director was shooting a film across New Jersey and needed one particular aerial shot to effectively tie an entire scene together. My drone and eye were on hand, and to my knowledge, it’s the first film my drone has gotten to be a part of!
The film is still in post production so I don’t want to give too much away, but maybe you’ll see my camerawork on Amazon Prime in 2021. ?
Here’s a behind the scenes photo (unedited) from when we were piecing a very particular shot together. Yes, that’s twine hanging from the drone!
I talk about my friends at NJspots a lot, but this time around, they let me talk on their behalf for a little bit! They were kind enough to let me speak to their community of photographers of all skill levels on how to take your own newborn photos. This was published during the first spike of COVID-19 in New Jersey, and most hospitals were only allowing one person maximum into labor and delivery rooms. Newborn and birth photos were shuttered, and little Logan experienced earlier in this post.
You can read the post here if you’d still like to learn some tips on how to take newborn photos, or if you just want to see photos of my wife and then newborn daughter, go for it! While you’re there, please spend some time looking through NJspots’ amazing resources like maps of the best spots to visit in the state, articles and photos by local folks, and more.
Bill from DeBoer’s Auto is a content king, an aerial nerd like me, he runs a successful auto shop in a way that you’ve probably never experienced before, and he hosts a regular video series that features some really interesting people from businesses and organizations around Sussex County. He must have run out of guests because he decided to chat with me! ?
We talked drone photography, Google Maps photography, and more. You can watch the interview below or read the accompanying blog post here.
Google Street View and Real Estate
I don’t talk much about it, but I’m a Google Trusted Photographer with, as of this publication, just shy of 6 million views across my contributions to Google Maps and Street View. This led me to Homeland Lending in Hackensack. Take the tour here on Google Maps:
Google Street View also took me back to DeBoer’s Auto in Hamburg, NJ, which to date, is the nicest auto shop I’ve ever been in. Take a look around!
DeBoer’s also got a nice new coat of paint, so we took some new aerials for their website.
Here’s a spooky one: Skylands Stadium in Augusta, NJ invited me to take some photos around their Jack-o-Lantern Experience, a drive-thru attraction centered around Halloween. I ended up with some pretty unique photos for Street View, but these “flat” images turned out to be some of my favorites from that day.
This was also a year where people were looking for a new start. Are you surprised? I got to (safely) experience some really unique interiors and exteriors. An entire floor just for drums? A residential house with a turret? Chased by someone with power tools? Check, check, and check. Yes, those are all true.
This isn’t real estate, but if we’re looking at semantics, it’s technically Street View…
This photo is actually available as a print in my shop if you or someone you know is so inclined. This is best for fans of roads. Or leaves. Or fans. It was taken at a secret location in Sussex County, NJ.
If you’ve followed my work for a while now, you may be familiar with my alter ego as a time traveler. If you haven’t, now you think I’m a lunatic. Now you think I’m a mind reader. My Time Traveling Co. project has been a labor of love for a few years now, but I’ve always enjoyed finding ways to bring vintage photos into the modern world. This year, I introduced a related but different project: AI Photo Enhancements. By using a combination of artificial intelligence, hand correction, and a dash of photo processing know-how, I’ve been finding ways to enhance and colorize photos that may not have ever been accessible in such detail before. This is a new service that I’m offering, and here’s some more detail about the project as a whole.
Instagram masks have been a bit of a silly foray into a space that I’ve long forgotten. In high school, I was trained in 3D modeling and animation, but those skills have long been replaced by an insatiable craving for new ice cream shops and the lyrics to all of the songs from Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood.
Luckily, these projects felt like a logical step for me from using my 360º photos to make interactive AR effects that could be visited, like the one I did of the famous Chatterbox Restaurant before it closed.
Below, you’ll see a favorite of mine that I built with TikTok star Casey Hamilton (@mrhamilton) with one of his brand logos. Brands, artists, and companies: I want to make more of these. Please message me!
PS: Try this effect on Instagram via this link.
Speaking of TikTok, I’ve been making videos over there. They’re all stupid, and this wasn’t a professional accomplishment by any means. But now you know. Want to make stupid videos together? Let’s be friends.
There’s one other notable thing worth mentioning. I spent a better part of the year working with Facebook’s New Product Experimentation team to help them beta test a new music creation app called Collab. It recently launched publicly for iOS users in the US, but I hope to see it expand further soon. It’s completely free with no in-app purchases, and there’s something in it for people who just enjoy listening music all the way up to folks with pro audio recording setups. It’s really fun and super low-pressure.
If you download it, message me so we can jam together! :)
You made it to the end! If you’re here, know that I appreciate you, I appreciate the sacrifices you’ve made this year, and you know what? Go buy that thing that you’ve been putting off buying. You deserve it.
See you next year. ❤️