Brian Rueb’s Best of 2016

With the conclusion of each year, I look back at the work I created and reflect. Initially, I think I always think, “Man, 2016 was a rough one for photography. I don’t think I got anything this year.” Then as I sift back through the archives and I’m reminded of two things:

  1. I photographed a lot more than I thought I did, and most of it with really great conditions. I find myself going “Oh yeah, I forgot about that…OH YEAH, I forgot about that too…” far more than I should.
  2. I also find that I am nowhere close to processing as many quality images as are sitting in my folders. I’m a lazy processor.

The second epiphany I have each year about not processing all my images is what frustrates me the most. I have a lot of work I would like to process, and I have good intentions of doing it…I’m just really bad at the follow through. There are a few reasons that always seem to keep me from processing images.

  1. I’m tired. I work two full time jobs. Teaching photography at a high school and teaching workshops. I’m gone from home about 120 days a year. When I am home, I’m typically trying to play catch up with workshop write-ups and my husband/dad duties, which is a job all by itself. When the time of day rolls up that I could actually sit and process images, I’m too drained to do anything.
  2. I’m in a constant love/hate relationship with every image I make. One day I find numerous images I love, and am excited to sit and process them…then next I hate everything and want to delete my whole catalog. Some days I will actually process images all the way to the end, then not save them. I do this far more than I should. Does anyone else spend 45-minutes processing an image and then not save it? Sometimes I’ll waste what could’ve been a productive 2-3 hour processing session, process 2-3 images, and then save none of them. WTF?

Despite the frustrations I face with my photography, I’m still reminded as I look back, I saw some great things with my lens.

January, I started 2016 by being able to FINALLY cross Valley of Fire off my list of locations that have given me the finger. I don’t know how many times I woke up early to stop here, or slept in my car in a parking area to be on scene when the light showed up, only to get skunked. Then there was a whole list of times I didn’t even bother to stop and just drove right by because the light was crap. I was beginning to think this place was cursed. FINALLY, I had 2 mornings of great shooting with some great friends and was able to come away with 4-5 images I really liked (typical I’ve only processed a couple)

March, I was lucky enough to head on a big road trip with my mother and both my sons. We saw 9 National Parks and monuments in 8 days. One of those was Badlands NP, which had been on my bucket list for a long time. The light was pretty nice almost every day of our trip, and it was a great experience sharing it with my family.


I visited Yosemite NP four different times during the year, and while I don’t think I made any truly memorable images on any of these trips, I always love spending time in the park and showing it to others.

Summer, I was back in Alaska to photograph Grizzly Bears with my workshop group. If you’ve never done this before it truly is one of the most amazing experiences ever. We saw bears every single day from close range. Once again I think I filled 3 memory cards up with images, and probably still have 20-30 images I’d like to eventually process (plus all the ones from the year before). In terms of up close and personal wildlife experiences that get your heart racing, and your cameras clicking there’s NOTHING like this. When I’m on my deathbed someday, the time in Alaska will be one thing I always remember. I am looking forward to this year and the years to come.

After Alaska I was back in Iceland for three weeks. The weather was pretty “Icelandic” and it seemed we were constantly driving, looking for breaks in the wind and rain…when we finally found them they were usually spectacular. I think I witnessed one of the most incredible sunsets ever in the middle of nowhere. Scott and I literally drove down an unmarked road and sat on a broken dock photographing this crazy light. We had to find SOMETHING to shoot. The light was so amazing.

August, I was in the Eastern Sierra backpacking, leading workshops, and making some new images along the Owens River. I made a couple images that I really like, and I think are special. It’s fortunate I was able to get at least 2-3 nice images, because the other thing I remember about this trip were the mosquitos. They were AWFUL, and almost miserable enough that no amount of great images would balance it out. There was one epic sunrise I photographed, and the mosquitos were SO bad, I almost just left, and didn’t shoot anything.

September, I was in Banff leading our workshop up there. The light was hit or miss, but always interesting. We had storms, snow, incredible morning and evening light, and everything in between. It was awesome. I recall one morning driving up the Icefields Parkway and seeing the morning light hitting the Rockies as the clouds broke, it was stunning. We had to pull off the road to shoot it.

Winter, I was in NYC and Costa Rica for personal shooting/scouting and family time. Both places were challenging to photograph, but the process and chase is as much fun for me as the outcome.

I’m hopeful 2017 will be filled with spectacular light, new adventures, and maybe a little time to process my backlog. I’m hoping to get into more video work in 2017 (we’ll see) I’m also excited to make my first trip back to Africa since 2003, heading back to Costa Rica in April, and then visiting a bunch of familiar spots throughout the rest of the year.

Here’s to 2017!

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