Happy 2024!

2024 Calendars are still available at lotsasmilesphoto.etsy.com!

Over 27,110 pictures taken this year.. how do I choose the best??  Somehow I managed to pare it down to my top 50 (that was so hard!!).

I wanted to take another break from the Japan posts (only a few left!) to reflect on the year as a whole.  Starting this blog last summer, I have forced myself to do more with my pictures than simply file them away on a hard drive and let them collect digital dust.  Additionally, I joined a local photography Meetup group, getting me out and shooting far more frequently.  Indeed, I seldom bother to pack up my bag anymore, my camera perpetually poised with the card slot open and my hard drive seemingly permanently affixed to my laptop awaiting editing.

I am grateful for both of these, as I have fully jumped into the deep end with my photography, improving at a remarkable rate as a result.

As I look forward to what the new year will bring, here are some of my favorites from 2015:

I shot for five anime conventions this year, accounting for over half of my total picture count.

I had a technique breakthrough when I discovered AI Servo mode, enabling continuous focusing and improving my in-focus ratio.  This shot of Kieran Strange at my home con, Kumoricon, wouldn’t have been possible otherwise:

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2015

In my process of choosing my favorite pictures of the year, I find it incredibly difficult to separate images with stellar composition, etc, that others would appreciate, from pictures that hold a significant memory.  In the end, I found it didn’t really matter why a picture was one of my favorites, so I’ll share this regardless of actual photo quality:

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2015

Veraca Chan of Kuro-Heise Cosplay crafted a beautiful cosplay for Day 3‘s Cosplay Contest, but she never expected to win.  Therefore, when she did, she came out in tears, shaking so much her friend had to help her on stage.  She was absolutely stunned; it was the most beautiful moment of the entire weekend.  It’s for times like these that I love candids so much.  You simply cannot stage this genuine emotion.

We also crossed the great Pacific this year to see anime in real life, visiting Japan for the first time.  This accounted for another significant portion of my pictures this year, almost 4,000.  There was so much to capture my attention, and I had plenty of opportunities to be creative.

As is my wont, I also kept my eye out for fleeting moments there, and I wasn’t disappointed.

And I found these to be particularly artistic:

I joined a photography Meetup group this year, and that got me out shooting much more than I might have ordinarily.  We stayed up late for the stars.

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2015
Lower Canyon Creek with Eastern Oregon fires
© LotsaSmiles Photography 2015
Bulo Point, Mt. Hood

And we were up early for the sun.

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2015
Near Sisters, Oregon

We watched the sun set…

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2015
Cape Kiwanda, Oregon Coast

and the blue moon rise.

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2015
Mt. Hood over the Columbia River


We visited beaches.

I also skipped out of work one Friday to capture this beautiful candid portrait of Natasha in Oneonta Gorge.

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2015

And I had fun around town on my own.

I also caught a few events.

I spent the spring with the sakura on the Waterfront,

the autumn chasing leaves,

and the winter with my family in Colorado.

Finally, I spend a lot of time at home with my kitties.  Usually, the camera I have most accessible to me during quick moments of cute is my phone.  However, I’ve generally been fairly impressed with the decent quality I can procure from even that simple device.

I simply love this silhouette of Holee (pronounced like “Holly”) with her aura of fluff:

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2015

And then there’s my Zoe.  We lost our girl this year, but I adore the sweet pictures of her at her happiest moments.

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2015

Interestingly enough, both of my favorites of my kitties turned out being black-and-whites.  Not intentional, as I have far more of them in color.  Sometimes, however, I just love the simplicity of monochrome.

If 50 pictures weren’t enough pixels for you, check out my Flickr album for the full set.  Who knew choosing could be so difficult??

It’s crazy to think about all the adventures I’ve been on this year, and I’m excited to see what next year brings.  In 2016, look forward to a shiny new logo, less wordy posts (I’m really going to try!!), some new photographic experiments, and plenty more pictures!  I also hope to get my own, official domain and provide options for purchasing high-quality prints and photo products.  So stay tuned!

In the meantime, feel free to hit me up on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Google+, Behance, and Flickr; follow my blog so you don’t miss a post; and have a simply wonderful new year.  Here’s hoping for the best 2016 can provide!

Happy New Year!


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