Photography has become ever more ubiquitous—especially online—and photographers as numerous as people who own cell phones. You’d think in the Instagram Age that photographs themselves would have become devalued as a consequence. And perhaps they have in some respects and contexts. But images retain their power to move and to persuade as well as to entertain. Our memories are visual and though we may see millions of them each year, some images linger in our minds—or, when seen, jog our recollections in ways that shortcut the written word.
Followers of The Natural Realm know that I am comfortable with the written word. But you also know that everything I write is accompanied by images. In fact, most of the time the photography precedes and drives the writing. So it is fitting, I think, that I offer you a selection of images in the time-honored tradition of a Year in Pictures. In previous years when I’ve done this it has been to use photos from the year’s stories as a way to refer to and remember the stories. Many of this year’s selections also do this. However, I’ve chosen to include quite a few images that have not yet been published as well.
I’ve used three (completely subjective) criteria in my selection of images. Some, like the sunrise at Hartung Park in the photo above, I simply find beautiful or visually striking and I hope you do likewise. Some represent important or particularly meaningful stories, events, or activities from the year. Other photographs I find meaningful in themselves and I want to share those insights with you. I present them to you in chronological order.
Links in the captions will take you back to the original stories and/or to the park or preserve where the image was taken. And, yes, there are captions because while a picture may occasionally be worth a thousand words, more often I find that a few judicious words can help frame what you are seeing, provide context, or elicit meanings that are not necessarily visually evident. And, in keeping with the mission of this project, I certainly always want to let you know where an image was taken in hopes that it will inspire you to seek out places where you can enjoy our wealth of nature.
Eddee Daniel is photographer, a board member of Preserve Our Parks and curator of The Natural Realm. Friends of Hank Aaron State Trail, Friends of Lakeshore State Park, Milwaukee County Parks, River Revitalization Foundation, Schlitz Audubon Nature Center, Tall Pines Conservancy, Waukesha County Land Conservancy, and Waukesha County Parks are all partner organizations to A Wealth of Nature (but that didn’t influence my choice of images for this post).