The best camera is the one you have with you. Shot with a Kodak disposable. Photo by Kathy Drasky.

The Significance of Selecting Year-End Photos

“Twelve significant photos in any one year is a good crop.” — Ansel Adams.

For the past several years I’ve been compiling my favorite 12 photos of the year in a mad attempt to organize my workflow into a Flickr album. It was only this year, though, that I came across the quote from Ansel Adams that not only made me feel less guilty about my organizational skills but also shed some light on narrowing down the massive number of photos we so easily generate with our mobile and digital devices.

Sometimes I still felt like a maverick, 0nly old one. Shot with an iPhone 5s and VSCOCam. Photo by Kathy Drasky.

How many of our photos made over the course of the year are great? In retrospect, maybe one (or two) if we’re lucky. How many are good? A lot. For example, a year-end app tied to Instagram is selecting our nine top photos based on “likes” — which of course is no measure of anything. But a little side insight it provides is how many photos you posted to your account this year. I posted 189! Obviously, I think 189 images I’ve made are good enough to impulse share (and that’s before I bother to tally what’s on Flickr and Facebook).

The heart of the Ansel Adams quote is not the number, though. To me it is the word “significant”. The number 12 ties in neatly enough with the months of the year — which is always a good starting point in making your selection, but not necessarily a hard and fast rule. After I choose my 12 photos, I write a little blurb about each one and what it represents — its corresponding significance to my life over the past year.

Sometimes you just choose a photo because you really liked it - even if no one else did. Shot with a Ricoh GR in cross-process mode. Photo by Kathy Drasky.

By using the word “significant” to make your selections rather than “good” or number of likes, you’ll probably find that you end up with a very different look to your year than you might have anticipated. Pictures don’t lie — we all know that — but pulling the truth from them is an entirely additional — or significant-making — step. What I pulled from my 12 images for 2015 were recurring themes of struggle, challenge, closure and an all-important need to not take yourself too seriously.

See all 12 of my most significant photos in my Flickr album.