My Favorite Photos From 2009

Ah yes… another year is coming to an end and it’s time to reflect on what we accomplished in the last 12 months. With photography, it’s pretty easy to look back on our work and pull together a collection of favorites. I did a similar thing at the end of 2007 and 2008. And each year, I’ve been reminded and encouraged to do so by two friends: Hitesh Sawlani and Jim Goldstein.

Hitesh always manages to remind me about the year end photo thing, and I adopted his monthly format that you see below. You can also see his 2009 post on his blog.

Jim also encourages this yearly reflection by hosting a group project on his blog. The idea is to look back on your year and create a blog post or Flickr set containing your best and/or favorite photos from the year. A lot of people participate in this thing, so it’s cool to get in on the action.

And with that, here are my photos that I feel are worthy of looking back on.


I kicked off the year with a photowalk up in Newport Beach with a few buddies and my Son. It was a decent photowalk… nothing huge, just a chance to get out and grab some shots.


Sunny Sailing Beach Photographers Cheese Popular Location Sunset at the Pier

In mid January, I took the Wife and Kids up to North Idaho to visit family (because ticket prices for Christmas time are outrageous). It was good to get back up there during snow season. Did a little landscape photography, skiing (with a camera of course), and relaxing (without cameras).

Dam... That's a Lot of Water

Rough Characters Winter Docks Winter at the Lake The Ride Up
Frozen Fields Take a Knee Casting Shadows Casting Shadows Reach


Went out on a spectacular photo excursion with fellow photographer Richard Wong. We made our way around the Salton Sea and I can honestly say that it is the most surreal place I’ve ever been. Just a strange mixture of beauty and decay all out in the middle of nowhere.

Salton Sea Sunset

Desperate for Attention Trailer Puke Poolaroid Environment Fail Salvation Mountain
Name Forgotten Old Green Trailer Once Upon a Time Underneath It All

Also did more photowalking with the pals up in West Hollywood. My good friend Bryan Villarin was also playing with his band at the Whisky A Go Go that night, so I got a little taste of concert photography.

Cab Plus Two Palm Trees

Broken Phone Bryan Mel's Drive In Smile The Scarlet Paradigm


Had a couple of small photowalks in San Clemente and La Jolla while testing out the new medium format Kodak Ektar 100 film.

La Jolla Pier

San Clemente Pier I Stand Alone The Umbrella La Jolla Coastline


Did a quick photowalk with a friend in Oceanside before heading up to the Grand Prix in Long Beach. Tried out some awesome orthochromatic film I got from my buddy the_wolf_brigade, but ultimately shot 100% digital for the race.

Beach Apartments

Long Beach Grand Prix 2009 Long Beach Grand Prix 2009 Pipeline 489 Shooting the Argus C3
Tires Surfboard Parking Oceanside Lifeguards Bailey at the Beach


My Brother came down to visit and we did the SoCal tourist thing for a few days — San Diego one day, Venice Beach and Hollywood the next. I also took the Wife and Kids on a short trip to the mountains for Mother’s Day for horseback riding and hot springs. Oh, and Memorial Day up at Lake Arrowhead with my Aunt and Uncle.

Do Not Climb on the Sculpture

The "Fly N Lion" Muscle Beach The Friendly Horse Photo of a Street Photographer Harry Perry Watch Your Head Los Calavera
My Bro Uncle Pat Wind-Blown Bailey


Didn’t do a whole lot in June other than the San Diego County Fair. I had a couple of photos in the art display, so it was fun to check them out with the other entries. We probably spent half our day just looking at artwork.

Rides at the Fair

Polish Sausage Win Big Prizes Totally Fried Chevelle Chair in the Grass


Did the 4th of July celebration thing with my Cousin up at Lake Arrowhead… I’m still amazed at how many boats get on the water at one time. I also did a few solo photowalks in Pacific Beach and Point Loma with the TLR.


Homeless, Names Unknown Car in a Cart Pacific Beach Perspective
Bobby The Modern DJ Shine Down


August was mostly family time. The kids were up in Idaho for most of the summer with the Grandparents, so we spent a lot of time with them when they got back before school started. I also met up with Jim Goldstein for a short time while he was down for a wedding — it was good to finally shake his hand and chat with him outside of Skype.


Bailey Biker Mom Venice Beach "Doctor's Office" I'm Broke


Labor Day was the only real photo-op we had in September — with school starting back up and everybody getting into their schedules, we didn’t do a whole lot else.


Two Beers. All Set. Beers at the Beach Mikasa Friendly Gesture


October was filled by a few family visits and whatnot… but nothing really major happened.

Don't Look Down

The Bartender Spin the Rex Backyard Bailey Chevelle


Either I didn’t take many photos in the last few months, or I just haven’t developed/scanned/processed anything. At any rate, I spent a lot of time hanging out with family for Thanksgiving and Christmas.


Honestly, I’m not totally impressed with myself this year. I didn’t do as much photo-taking as I would have liked, and I definitely didn’t do as much photo-printing either. I also felt a fairly large shift in my photographic focus this year. I spent more time just capturing the events and gatherings that I happened to be a part of rather than going out and looking for opportunities… sort of a passive approach I guess. I did a few photowalks and outings, but not like I had in the past.

This isn’t necessarily a bad thing… just a different thing. I’m not a professional photographer by any means, so I can afford to drift with my focus and intent. But in general, I’ve keep the same passion for photography that I’ve always had — I’ve just been more relaxed about it. And maybe that’s what I needed this year to motivate me for something new next year.


I’m not sure what the new year has in store for me. I would guess that I’ll be shooting more film and less digital though. I’m also hoping to get the color darkroom set up soon so I can fully utilize my collection of negatives (sucks not being able to print nearly half of my work just because it’s not b/w). I would like to focus more on printing before I fall too far behind on my archives and the whole situation turns into a lost cause.

The Darkroom

For equipment, I don’t plan on acquiring anything new… OK, maybe a large format camera of some sort, but no definite plans yet. And like I said, my darkroom is almost complete and ready for color and b/w developing and printing so I should be fine there (unless I do actually get a large format camera). At any rate, definitely no plans for new digital equipment.

Subject-wise, I’d like to focus more on street photography and street portraits. I did a good deal this year, but I want to get out and do more. Street photography with my newly refurbished rangefinder, and street portraits with my trusty TLR.

And as far as websites go, I do have a joint venture in the works that should launch sometime in January. But I’m sworn to secrecy, so that’s all I can say.

How about you guys??? How was 2009 for you? Is anybody else planning on participating in Jim’s project?

19 thoughts on “My Favorite Photos From 2009

  1. Jenni Brehm

    Thank Goodness, I won’t be the only one who can’t decide which photo to enter for Jim’s project :-P

    But I won’t select by month but by subject matter (flowers, animals, architecture).

    Love the old-school look & feel of the photos you took this year!

  2. Brian Auer Post author

    Yeah, one photo for an entire year is way too difficult — but I think the project is more than open to collections of photos as an entry.

    And the old-school look on most of the photos is probably due to the fact that I hardly used my digital camera! Most of these were shot with film cameras made between the 1950s and 1970s. I should get some older cameras, right? Maybe a nice old Graflex from the ’30s?

  3. Jenni Brehm

    That would definitely be interesting, too. Your photos have had me wanting to experiment with film for the better part of the year now. I found an old camera from the 30s that my grandpa used but I haven’t tested yet if it still works.

  4. the_wolf_brigade

    I should really try this as well…will be interesting to see how my work developed over the past year. I think I’ve made progress portrait wise, but my participation in my long term project has dropped due to other commitments.

    Gear wise for next year I’d love to move up to 8×10, and a 1930s era Leitz (Leica) Xenon 50/1.5 wouldn’t go astray.

    Joint venture eh? Sounds interesting. Considering what you’ve built this site into I’m keen to see what you’ve got in store!

  5. Jan

    I like the idea of a favorite image retrospective. And I’ve recently run into a lot of folks going back to film. I guess digital has its conveniences when it comes learning and quick job turn-around, but folks seem to be burning out on it.

  6. laanba

    NIce collection. I hadn’t seen some of those, but the Salton Sea photo was a fave from the moment I saw it on your Flickr stream.

    I’m going to work on my collection today. I’ve done a preliminary sort and I have sort of a “meh” feeling about my work in 2009. Not bad, not great. We’ll see when I pull the finalists together. As for 2010, film, film, film! I’m excited.

  7. Scott Coulter

    Great year review, really enjoyed re-seeing lots of photos I liked the first time around.

    I’ve started the process of building a “2009 Favorites” set on Flickr. Sort of depressing, really. Not nearly the improvement over past years that I had hoped for. Like you, I haven’t shot/processed much these past two months… lots of family/social/church/work obligations (not that there’s anything wrong with that, as Seinfeld would say).

    I do like your idea of summarizing the year month-by-month, rather than just picking 10 faves (David Nightingale did his blog post that way, too); I’ll have to re-look at my picks and see if I have at least an even distribution across the year.

  8. Brian Auer Post author

    @Jenni Get that thing going! Do you know what film format it takes?

    @the_wolf_brigade Same here with the long term project… I wasn’t as aggressive with it as I wanted, so I guess it’s an ongoing thing at this point. And yeah, the joint venture website is going to be killer — my “partner in crime” is very knowledgeable on the subject.

    @Jan I’ve been seeing the same thing with film… I guess the honeymoon is over for digital! Great collection you put together too — I’m envious of your portrait skills. Great stuff in there.

    @laanba I’m excited to see more film from you too!

    @Scott Well, don’t get too depressed. I think most photographers are more critical of their own work than others are.

  9. Brian Auer Post author

    hmm… it’s hard to say without having it in my hands. It might be a 120 format 6x9cm, but I think there were also 127 format 3x4cm versions. I guess you could just grab a roll of 120 and see if it fits. As long as the shutter still trips correctly and there are no holes in the bellows, it should work fine.

  10. Hitesh Sawlani

    Good to see you finally got around to doing it Brian! There were some hidden gems I missed out on throughout the year, there has def. been a drop in the quantity of images you’ve produced but then again taking total control of the film process (developing and printing) does make everything that much longer to produce doesn’t it ;)

  11. Alvaro

    I think is a great look back Brian, I should do the same. You made me think with what you say about “drifting focus and intent” in your photography, last year around this same time, I had the same big plans for changing something in my photography but here I am again with the same stuff, which perhaps is my style and way and I should not touch it, after all as you say we are not professionals so there is not need to rush if you are still enjoying. :)

    Looking forward to that new project!!

  12. Arpad Daniel Ronaszegi


    Thanks for sharing your highlights of the year and your reflection on photography! I really like your August BW portraits.

    It has been a challenging but also inspiring year for me. I like when you say that you “have been more relaxed about” photography. It makes me think how I should face this next year. I also posted some of my photo highlights of the year. You can visit it on my blogsite:

    If I may react to Jenni: I have a camera very similar to what you are showing, manufactured by Zeiss Ikon, that I just got from my Dad, it is also from the 40′s. Inside the cover it says it takes Zeiss Ikon B2 6×9 cm (2 1/4″ x 3 1/4″) film which ,as you also said, is also referred to as 120mm film. I checked online and I was amazed that they still manufacture this format film.

    Wish you a Happy New Year!


  13. Jan

    @Arpad – 120mm film is the standard for medium format cameras, many of which are still being manufactured today and are favored by professional photographers, such as in fashion. They provide higher resolution images than what even the best 24MP DSLR can do. And while there are digital backs available for those cameras, a film based version is more economical and has some advantages when shooting certain genres.

    So while not as widely available as DSLR, medium format, and related film is alive and well. And in fact is making a comeback. I’ve met many folks recently who have started exploring these cameras again after having gotten tired of digital ones.

  14. Justin Korn

    Nice set of pictures Brian. You’ve got me very curious about your joint venture coming up…hopefully we’ll find out more soon :)

    You can find my 2009 selections (participation in Jim’s project) HERE.

    Happy 2010!

  15. Pingback: My Photography Resolutions for 2010

  16. Chris

    I like your collection of shots for the year, especially how you broke it down by month. That had a nice story telling element! I may have to copy you for 2010 year favorites!

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