Well it's that time again as we ring in the New Year and reflect on the past year. Both for myself personally and for the Gallery photographically, 2022 was a BIG year. Looking back, I thought it would be fun to reflect on some of the most memorable moments of the year and share some of what 2023 has to bring.
As many of you already know, I closed the original location of The Sierra Light Gallery in Mammoth Lakes in October 2021 and immediately began designing and constructing The Sierra Light Gallery 2.0 at a new location in the Mammoth Lakes Promenade. With the goal of being open prior to the Holiday Season in December, my team and I worked ourselves ragged, building non-stop for weeks on end. Supply issues and eventually a monstrous storm that closed Highway 395 (our one and only for the winter) postponed us until January, when the doors finally opened.
Opening the doors of the new and improved Sierra Light Gallery in Mammoth Lakes was not the only event to kick off 2022...
One thing I learned in 2022 is that 10 years can go by in the blink of an eye with the love of your life. In January, my incredible and stunningly beautiful wife Lauren and I celebrated our 10-year anniversary. We had always joked that we would spend our 10-year anniversary back on the Big Island of Hawaii, where we were originally married. The joke became self-fulfilling as we booked our flights and lodging and prepared to celebrate a decade together. What she didn't know was that I was secretly planning something very special for her. She had anticipated being my beautiful photo assistant as we traveled around the island scouting new locations and photographing, but what she did not expect was that I had arranged for our closest friends and family to meet us on the island for a surprise Vow Renewal on the beach. How I pulled this off without anyone blowing the surprise still feels like an utter miracle to this day. It was a beautiful ceremony with the most beautiful woman in the world and the best friends and family a guy could ask for.
We traveled all around the island, found and photographed a bunch of new locations, and visited familiar places. Unfortunately, the weather was not on our side most of the trip, as it was often socked in with too many clouds and heavy rainfall. Although I was still able to capture a nice collection of images that will be released in the future, it may take another trip to round out a full New Releases Gallery. One new photographic journey we took was the Midnight Manta Dive. All I have to say is WOW. Truly one of the most incredible photographic experiences of my life. I will write more about this experience when I release the full New Releases Gallery in the future. I will 100% be jumping in the water with the graceful and majestic creatures again! But until then, a little sneak peak for the readers...
A huge shout out and massive THANK YOU to my Hawaiian Ohana, the Lava Light Galleries crew, CJ Kale, Don and Linda Hurzeler, and Phil Waller. Your hospitality and friendship are equal to none. Appreciate you all so much for photographing our Vow Renewal and dragging us all around the island and into the ocean to do what we do best!
Just two months later, in March, we held the Grand Opening of The Sierra Light Gallery at our new location in Mammoth Lakes! And I must say, we threw quite the party! Hundreds of people attended the Grand Opening, and I was told by many long-time locals that it was the largest event they had ever been to in Mammoth Lakes that was not hosted by Mammoth Mountain. It was exciting, overwhelming, emotional, rewarding, and just about every other emotion you can think of. One of the most special moments of my life. I cannot thank all my customers, fans, and supporters enough for the massive success of the event. We roped off part of the parking lot so Tap Truck 395 could serve Mammoth Brewing Co. to all the attendees, and my business neighbor Black Velvet Coffee served their delicious coffee. We raffled off a bunch of my Matted and Metal Prints, and my good friend and customer John Csiszar won the Grand Prize of a 24x36 Metal Print of his choosing.
Jumping ahead a couple months to July, I finally got to go on one of, if not the, most productive and incredible photography trips of my entire career. A trip that had been postponed 2 years as the pandemic canceled all travel. I finally got to visit and photograph Iceland!
What is better than photographing the Land of Ice and Fire? Well... photographing it with my best friend David Thompson. David and I have been photographing together for years and his knowledge and experience photographing Iceland on previous visits proved invaluable in making the trip extremely productive and an unforgettable experience. I don't want to go into too much detail here, as I will be releasing this amazing set of photographs in the coming year. But once again, a small sample of the images for your viewing pleasure!
Jumping ahead once again to the Fall. The colors were outstanding this year due in much part, I believe, to the return of the monsoonal rains of the summer. We enjoyed a wild variety of colors that lasted throughout the majority of October. I was joined this season by my good friends and fellow photographers Phil Waller and Michael Ambrose, who accompanied me on scouting new locations and shooting our incredible color display. Again, I do not want to spoil too much here, as my next New Releases Gallery - A Transition Through the Fall - will be available on my website next month. It is a culmination of the last 3 years of photographing the fall color in the Eastern Sierra, and I am very excited to share it with you all. How about another small sample for you?
To end the year, we have so far been blessed with a number of early snow storms that have set us up for a nice base layer to start the winter. As I am writing this, we are anticipating a barrage of storms coming from an atmospheric river. All of us in California have our fingers crossed for an above-average winter to restore some of our much-depleted water reserves.
What next for 2023? To say that I have significant plans for the year would be an understatement. Much of which is not yet set in stone, and I do not want to jinx it. What I will say is I am hoping for a beautiful year in the Sierra wilderness this summer. The drought conditions of the past few years have left much to be desired in the backcountry photographically, but if this winter continues as it has, I plan on spending a lot of time in the High Sierra and continuing to add to my portfolio.
If you managed to make it this far in my 2022 Year in Review ramblings, I would like to wish you all the best in 2023 and hope the year brings you much joy and happiness. I look forward to seeing you all in Mammoth Lakes this year and be sure to stop by the Gallery and say hello!