My Favorite 12 from 2020

I put my beloved original Fujifilm X100 up on a shelf in 2014 and walked away from photography until December 24 2019, that’s when the spark to go shoot again finally hit me. That spark hit me hard enough to have a shiny new Fujifilm X-T3 and a bag of lenses in my hands by January 2020.  

So I set off in 2020 with a new found motivation and was able to complete a personal photography project, got some images published in magazines and commercial work, and found a new kind of photography I had new tried before. Here’s my favorite 12 images I made during 2020, in no particular order. 

Fujifilm X-T3 | XF 35mm f2

Ok, I know I said these were in no particular order, but this is probably ranks up as one of my favorite images I’ve been able to make with a camera. There was some fog that actually moved in to the city creating a nice atmosphere, a big city feeling but an eerie isolation with the lone biker. Not to mention an awesome amount of grain. Sold this particular lens in exchange for the older XF 35mm f1.4, I love this image, but don’t care for the focal length while shooting street so it’s used to take pictures of my pets.

Fujifilm X-T3 | XF 56mm f1.2

A color version of an image from my Life Between the Shadows project. I can remember the morning sun looking back at this image. I really liked this image because I’ve mostly been a black and white shooter, I just prefer them over a color option, so I worked more on my color photography this year and I like that glow from the morning sun. Sold this lens too, it’s a magnificent lens, but was only getting used for images of my pets. Though, this is the second image from my Top 12 from a lens I didn’t care to use, maybe I should rethink using focal lengths I don’t care for.

Fujifilm X-T30 | XF 50mm f2

My daughter, my pup, and it’s black and white. I really liked the dark silhouette and dramatic skies, looks amazing on a metal print. Sold the X-T30 and the XF 50mm f2.

Fujifilm X-T30 | Viltrox 85mm f1.8

Documenting history, the pain and emotion in her face and a real message. And Fujifilm Acros at work. SOOC. Sold the Viltrox 85mm f1.8 that this image was taken with.

Fujifilm X-T30 | XF 50mm f2

My first street photography image that I was really happy with. I like the cut of light that she’s walking in, the reflection of her glasses and her hair blowing in the wind.

Fujifilm X-T30 | XF 50mm f2

A guy sits alone on a stool at Fort Wayne’s Famous Coney Island, a local coney dog stand that has been around since the Influenza Pandemic of 1918, a sign of the times. Before 2020, this place was always so packed that the front windows fogged up during the colder months from the crowd.

Fujifilm X-T3 | XF 35mm f1.4

It was a different night. Stranger messages me on Instagram and says he has a light up Halloween mask, so we met up and made things happen. I liked how this one turned out.

Fujifilm X-T3 | XF 56mm f1.2

Tiny Tank, he’s easy enough to love just looking at him isn’t he? But as a photograph I like it for the personality in Tank’s face, the lighting balance from the natural light let in from just the front door being open…and that bokeh.

Fujifilm X-T3 | XF 23mm f2

Another big city feel shot, and the second day we actually had a little atmosphere in the city. A slight Dark Knight hospital scene feel to it, maybe I’m reaching?

Fujifilm X-T30 | XF 35mm f2

Yes, I like taking pictures of my dog(s). But I also like the look in her eye, the unconventional composition, lit with just a simple off-camera speed light that was purchased when I got that original X100, and a cheap umbrella with my garage wall as a background.

Fujifilm X-T30 | XF 50mm f2

My first street portrait, and rather than having to approach him, he came to me. Ned is a…character. But I like the lighting on him, and it was taken on the 4th of July so the shirt is fitting. An interesting talk Ned had with me.

Fujifilm X-T3 | XF 23mm f2

My favorite image from my Life Between the Shadows project. With Fan Ho being a big influence on my photography, this image had the most “Fan Ho” vibes to me. Also, Acros film simulation at work again, SOOC.

Had a great time shooting again, and I’m happy I shot for the entirety of 2020. What do you think about my top 12 images?

You can find more of my street photography on Instagram @dan_adams_snaps

Life Between the Shadows | Bipolar Disorder, Brain Cancer, Hip-Hop and Street Photography

2020 was a dark time, forced isolation because of the pandemic sent life into the shadows without warning. As someone who has spent a good portion of my life fighting my own darkness with Bipolar Disorder, I was comfortable with the isolation and social distancing to follow…I preferred it that way. But the lows kept me away from photography for years at a time until I learned how to use it to expose the light in the darkness. 

Before 2020, I had all but put my camera away, The deep depression from the lows of Bipolar Disorder, and a tragedy with ties to my photography rattled me to the point where I had zero interest left in it. In January 2014 we lost my brother, Chad, to brain cancer at 39 years old after he had beat it into remission more than once. Six months before he passed we were on a family trip to Walt Disney World and we were talking about his interest in photography. We planned a trip to Chicago because he wanted to learn more about photography…from me.

Chad was the first person to express that he was a “fan” of my images, which took me off guard because growing up he was always the one to bring new things to my attention. Growing up, he split his time with his family in California and the trends hit there long before they made their way to northern Indiana, especially in the late 80s and much of the 90s before the internet was in most homes. I remember new music to me as we watched Yo! MTV Raps or Rap City, just as hip-hop started gaining popularity, something that has stuck with me since hearing it at 10 years old. 

He showed me different fashion back then, different interests with his talent as a skateboarder, along with the skateboarding videos and music in the videos he would bring back when he spent time here. From music to skateboarding, to video games I played, to bowling I always looked at him for new things and this time he was looking to me. He passed before we could make the trip together, my wife and I made the trip to Chicago five months later and when we returned at the end of June 2014, I put my camera up on a shelf and didn’t touch it again regularly until this year.

So with a camera in my hand, and hip-hop in my earbuds I set off this year to reconnect with something I loved to do, and something I knew would make Chad happy. I’ve worked on this series using high contrast black and white, letting the light create leading lines, capturing the unique shapes carved out by light, and trying to capture the heavy shadows trying to dominate-the light fighting back.

The camera is an instrument that teaches people how to see without a camera.” 

― Dorothea Lange

77 Steps and Holiday Sights from Fort Wayne

Street photography in a smaller city presents a motivational block for me, I feel like I’ve shot all the spots already, and have hunted down where all the sharp cuts of light are at in the city. Just when I start losing motivation to go out and shoot consistently, the season changes and brings a little different atmosphere to my normal shooting spot. With winter brings all the Holiday lights and displays around the city, and this year a new sculpture is now lighting up a Fort Wayne alley. 

77 Steps, the name of the sculpture comes from the number of steps it takes for a person to walk through the 150-foot-pedestrian alley while under the lights. More than 300 hanging tubes filled with hundreds of programmable colored lights hanging above the alley were designed to reflect the city. The architects said the light bulbs are different lengths and colors to represent the diversity of Fort Wayne and officials said the lights also flow across the alley similar to the Three Rivers.

Sadly it was only lit up blue the night I went down there, so I look forward to seeing some new color combinations. Beyond the new light display bringing something new to shoot, the city always puts up traditional Holiday displays that bring a different feel to the city. A great thing for someone that was struggling with motivation. 

All images were taken with a Fujifilm X-T3 and a combination of lenses; XF 23mm f2, XF 35mm f1.4, and a Samyang 12mm f2.