This is the 6th year I’ve put together a year in review. The process takes me at least a week – sorting through every image from the past year to curate from 20,000 to a batch of around 500, then 200, and finally around 130.
This is the project I dread and anticipate most. It is perhaps the most consistent part of my creative practice, helping me to measure my time and my creative development. The process shows me how much work I have to do – all the goals I did not reach, the projects I want to complete and haven’t, the photos I tried and failed. Yet looking back also reminds me where I’ve been. These photographs slow me down.
Too often, we forget to turn around. As a senior in college, I spent most of 2017 looking ahead, imagining a thousand potential nexts. In the coming year, my sixteen years as a student will end. I’ll say goodbye to some of my dearest friends. I'll move and start a new job. I only know where I’ll be sleeping for one-third of 2018. After graduation, my life is a blank (or a black void?).
But here’s the open, not-so-secret secret: we never know what the year will bring. We don't know the places we will go or the people I will meet, the deep pain of the hard days or the bright joys of the good ones. We all forget that we don’t know what’s happening next. We control, we plan, we assume. In the process, we forget to remember just how far we’ve come.
Photographs are deeply personal, something I'm understanding more with time. They allow you to see what I see and what I choose to remember. What I show you here is a glimpse of what I treasured over the past 365 days. Not literally – you won’t see photos of every great conversation or significant relationship. Some friendships, spaces, and moments aren't captured as simply in an image, and I like to keep it that way. You won’t see my cubicle or my undergraduate thesis. This collection isn’t a documentary; it’s a reflection, a deep breath after a year that passed all too quickly.
The following photographs are about this feeling: an increasing comfort with the discomfort of transition I seem to always find myself in, the search for contentment in current circumstances.
As always, these images would mean nothing without the people behind them. Forever grateful to the friends and family near and far who share their lives with me, in front or beside the camera. Special thanks to my roommates in Washington—Leah, Hannah, Stevie, and Visha— as well as the family I lived with this summer in California— the Parson and the Johnson families: you have been my strongest cheerleaders.
Finally, to those who have given me their consistent critique and encouragement over the year, my creative mentors, sounding boards, and companions: Chan, Robert, Kevin, Tami, Liv, Ajetha, and Ali: thank you.
"So, friends, every day do something that won't compute... Ask the questions that have no answers. Invest in millennium. Plant sequoias... Be like the fox who makes more tracks than necessary, some in the wrong direction. Practice resurrection." Wendell Berry