December 31st and I'm sitting looking out across the Pacific ocean. It's an arbitrary day, in the grand scheme of things, but a day full of import for many. The last day of our calendar year. It's a day to look back on our accomplishments, travels, people met, people lost, chances taken, chances missed. Hopefully your mental, spiritual and physical balance sheet is in the black.
I feel like maybe it's always the same but this year has felt intense on many levels - professionally, personally and physically. I've traveled extensively with six trips to Canada, two to England and France and one each to China and the Netherlands. On top of that I've been all over the US from Seattle to Miami, San Diego to Boston and many points in between. I've had some super highs and some crushing lows. The year started out with the economic world on fire and ended with that same world in ashes. The new year is on the horizon and no one knows how this is all going to work out. Are we going to keep ploughing into the ground and digging a bigger hole? Will the markets turn around and start to build some strength on the basis of some firm foundations? Right now I have a job, another two years on my visa and a busy year in front of me but, as we all know, that could end in a heartbeat.
Resolutions? Keep on keeping on... keep on working at my photography, try and discover new things, new ways to look at things, new ways to show. I have some some projects to finish, some to start and, generally, tighten the belt and hold on for the ride.
The end of the year brought an interesting celestial phenomenon. A couple of nights ago, as the sun set over the Pacific, the thinnest sliver of moon appeared in the western skies. The moon was barely two and a half days old. Above it, in the darkening blue skies, sat Venus, herself in a half phase. Below all, down in the fading fires of the sunset sat Jupiter and below that, Mercury.
We had lunch outside of Medusa's, here in Cambria, a couple of days ago. We sat out facing out on to the road and ate our soft tacos. The sun felt good on my face and for the first time in weeks I felt myself starting to relax. The motion had stopped for a few minutes, the pain in my root canal tooth had gone and the sneezing that I've been doing the last week had ceased. I felt good. Really good. It was almost like I'd forgotten what that really felt like. As my mind wandered I thought of Sandy Colton, a man I first met two years ago. I met him at the Eddie Adams Workshop in 2006, again in 2007 and again in 2008. Sandy started out in the US Air Force as a writer and photographer for the military newspaper Stars & Stripes. He then worked for the Associated Press as a photographer and editor amongst other things. He is also the father of Jay and Jimmy Colton - Jay a former associate picture editor for Time magazine and Jimmy the picture editor of Sports Illustrated. He was also a devoted member of the Eddie Adams Workshop family from it's inauguration onwards. He was 'heavy' of 'heavies'. I can't say that I knew him but I could see his influence. I felt the regard in which he was held by all that did know him and, as I sat there in the sun, thinking about how good it felt I thought about Sandy and his family.
Sandy passed away on Christmas Day at his home in upstate New York at the age of 83. I thought about Jimmy's introduction speech at Barnstorm back in October, about the way he'd talked about his dad, honoring his achievements and his strength. Sandy got a standing ovation that night. People that knew him well tell me that no one fought for the photographer more than Sandy. I know that ill health took a heavy toll over the past few years but he always attended the workshop, always paid his respects at the memorial. I hope he's sitting back, somewhere, enjoying the warmth of the sun on his face.