Simply Thankful | My Best of 2013 | Part 1

The best way for me to express the incredible experiences of 2013 is by sharing my personal favorite images from throughout the year. January 1 2013 began on Hilton Head Island. By the end of the month I was on my way to Texas and by the beginning of July I was back home in Ohio. I’ve taken some kindhearted ribbing from a few family members and friends regarding the craziness of my moving twice in one year, but, I still believe that it all happened for a reason and to set the stage for greater blessings down the road. Besides, at least I can say “done that, been there, I tried it out.”

One of the important lessons I learned is that the grass is not always greener on the other side and Ohio can be a pretty awesome place to live. It gets a bum rap by many who grow up here. It deserves much better. Another lesson is to carefully think through the advice of others when they give you their opinion about where and how you should live your life. Just saying. I have a tendency to be too much of a people-pleaser, much to the determent of my own health. I’m working my way out of that, one day at a time. Follow your heart and those who love and care will fall in around you.

Another lesson reinforced is the fact that the best images arise from where and when the heart is engaged. It’s not so much of chasing images in many locations but rather letting go of expectations and following the heart and the blessings that are presented, even if just outside the back door or down the road.

All in all I am very thankful to have finally landed back in the Dayton Ohio area, enjoying life and photography on my little eight acres of rural heartland. The journey has been incredible, tiring, wonderful. So many images captured that could have made my top ten list. It was hard to select the ones to post here but honestly these are the ones that carry the most personal meaning for me, whether they were popular on social media or not, it’s the personal connection and story that counts.

These images are no particular order. Here goes –

AltusOklahomabyJimCrottyFW

March 2013: Altus, Oklahoma. At the beginning of February I had moved to Frisco, Texas, just north of Dallas. It’s one of the fastest growing communities in the United States. Lots of development. Lots of young families, but very limited as far as subject matter for the type of photography that I am known for and enjoying shooting. In order to find the “good stuff” had to take trips out of the Dallas metroplex. One location that I thoroughly enjoyed were the small towns and scenic hills in and around the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge in Oklahoma. This scene immediately caught my eye, along the streets in Altus, Oklahoma. It presented a contrast and composition I could not resist. I’m a sucker for weathered, old and vintage. These scenes are full of character.

SticktotheOldRoadsbyJimCrottyFW

Keep to the Old Roads. Frisco, Texas. For me at least the most fulfilling photographic experiences are those that I share with my children. Even when they are sitting in the car complaining “oh geez dad not again, really?” I know that what I am sharing with them is having a positive impact. This was a late afternoon in early April along of the few remaining rural roads on the outskirts of Frisco, Texas. My daughter Chloe was with me. She accompanied me on an outdoor portrait session for a large family near their home in Frisco. Afterwards, as we were driving back home, I noticed the sky breaking up and the sun streaming through. I just needed the right foreground to capture it so I headed over to this farm road which was near a friend’s house. This image speaks of the change of seasons on the open prairies of North Central Texas and more importantly a memory shared with my daughter Chloe.

July evening on the farm in Beavercreek Township Ohio by Jim Crotty

Sunset on the Farm. July 2013. Beavercreek Township, Ohio. Home again. I had always wanted to live on farmland with easy access to nature all around me. I finally found it with the purchase of an eight-acre historical farmhouse in Beavercreek Township, Ohio, east of Dayton. I moved in late June 2013. It has been quite an adjustment but the scenes at sunrise and sunset are an incredible blessing. So much just right here around my house. But what came with the purchase as well is the work required to maintain property this size. It can be hard, but fun and fulfilling too. I never thought I’d enjoy an old John Deere tractor so much. This was just after sunset. I had finished cutting for the day, put the tractor back in the garage and was walking back to the house when the sky lit-up with a light that speaks of summers in rural Ohio. There is peace here and I am thankful.

Holy Spirit You Are Welcome Here by Jim Crotty

Holy Spirit You Are Welcome Here. Old Man’s Cave, Hocking Hills Ohio. August 2013. Hocking Hills is a very special place. One of the best memories of last summer of going there for a short visit with my daughter Chloe and son Philip. This was Philip’s first visit to Hocking Hills. I had not planned to do any photography of my own other than images of Chloe and Philip, hiking and rappelling, so this landscape image down in the Old Man’s gorge was unplanned. This what makes this image one of my best of the year. It was the experience that it represents that makes it stand-out. Plus there was just something about the light coming down through there on that August afternoon. Peace pours in and gratitude is expressed best in those places and experiences that are shared with loved ones.

(to be continued . . .)

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