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Best Of 2021: Our Most Meaningful Photos Of The Year, Part 1

This week we're counting down to the end of the year with a selection of photos taken by the Sony Artisans Of Imagery and Alpha Imaging Collective along with the story behind each one. See Part 1 below and stay tuned to Alpha Universe this week for more.

Photo by Steven Irby. Sony Alpha 7R III. 1/2500-sec., f/2, ISO 1250

Photo by Renan Ozturk. Sony Alpha 1. Sony 12-24mm f/2.8 G Master. 1/200-sec., f/8, ISO 200

Photo by David McLain. Sony Alpha 7S III. Sony 35mm f/1.4 G Master.

Photo by Ira Block. Sony Alpha 7C. Sony 35mm f/1.8. 1/125-sec., f/2.8, ISO 3200

Photo by Ashley Noel. Sony Alpha 7 II. Sony 85mm f/1.4 G Master. 1/100-sec., f/4, ISO 500

Photo by Neil Leifer. Sony Alpha 1. Sony 24-70mm f/2.8 G Master. 1/2000-sec., f/9, ISO 1600

Photo by Jean Fruth. Sony Alpha 1. Sony 16-35mm f/2.8 G Master. 1/800-sec., f/5, ISO 200

Photo by Max Boncina. Sony Alpha 1. Sony 16-35mm f/2.8 G Master. 6-sec., f/11, ISO 400

Photo by Vincent Lim. Sony Alpha 7R IV. Sony 16-35mm f/2.8 G Master. 1/2-sec., f/2.8, ISO 100

Photo by Patrick Murphy-Racey. Sony Xperia 1 II. 1/640-sec., f/2.2, ISO 50

Photo by Robert Evans. Sony Alpha 1. Sony 24-105mm f/4 G. 1/400-sec., f/4, ISO 50

Photo by Nino Rakichevich. Sony Alpha 7R III. Sony 24-70mm f/2.8 G Master. 1/1000-sec., f/5.6, ISO 100

Photo by Andrew Eggers. Sony Alpha 1. Sony 12-24mm f/2.8 G Master.

Photo by Salvatore D’Alia. Sony Alpha 7 III. Sony 24-70mm f/2.8 G Master. 1/400-sec., f/6.3, ISO 320

Photo by Tony Gale. Sony Alpha 1. Sony 24-105mm f/4 G. 20-sec., f/5, ISO 400

Photo by Jake Chamseddine. Sony Alpha 1. Sony 24-70mm f/2.8 G Master.

As 2021 comes to a close, AlphaUniverse.com is looking back at another unforgettable year in photography. We asked the Sony Artisans Of Imagery and the Alpha Imaging Collective to share some of their most meaningful images of the year and this week we're counting down with a selection of photos and the story behind each one. In Part One below, Artisans Of Imagery Ira Block, Robert Evans, Jean Fruth, Tony Gale, Neil Leifer, Patrick Murphy-Racey, David McLain, Renan Ozturk, Nino Rakichevich and Alpha Collective members Max Boncina, Jake Chamseddine, Sal D'Alia, Andrew Eggers, Steven Irby, Vincent Lim and Ashley Noel share their images from 2021 and what makes each one special to them. Stay tuned to AlphaUniverse.com all week for more.

All week we're taking a look back at 2021 through the lenses of the Sony Artisans of Imagery and the Alpha Imaging Collective.  

Steven Irby

Alpha-Universe-Best-Of-2021-Steven-Irby.jpg

Photo by Steven Irby. Sony Alpha 7R III. 1/2500-sec., f/2, ISO 1250

“I was on stage with Fivio, documenting his performance in front of 20,000 people that were reciting his lyrics word for word. The energy was peaking and almost felt as if everything and everyone was vibrating on the same wave. He fully embraced the love and energy, and dove into the crowd and I was at the perfect spot to capture this moment.”

“For me especially with how the pandemic has made human touch and everything such a constant worry, this was one moment of pure bliss in the midst of it all. Nothing else mattered for a split second, and it was all about the love and energy.”

Renan Ozturk

Alpha-Universe-Best-Of-2021-Renan-Ozturk.jpeg

Photo by Renan Ozturk. Sony Alpha 1. Sony 12-24mm f/2.8 G Master. 1/200-sec., f/8, ISO 200

“The goal of this scientific mission was an elevational transect of the Upper Paikwa River Basin near Guyana’s northwestern frontier with Brazil and Venezuela to look for new species of amphibians and reptiles in one of the world’s richest and least explored hotspots of biodiversity. The final section of our transect led us through a pristine, untouched cloud forest and culminated with a first ascent of an unclimbed 7,000-foot tepui called Weiassipu.”

“This photo is of Alex Honnold on the hardest pitch of the climb at a moment when the clouds parted only for five minutes after months in the mist.”

“This was an explorative mission in the name of science and conservation, and this photo represents that meaningful action to me literally and figuratively, as we pave a positive path forward to protect the wildest places on Earth.”

David McLain

Alpha-Universe-Best-Of-2021-David-McLain.jpg

Photo by David McLain. Sony Alpha 7S III. Sony 35mm f/1.4 G Master.

“I was shooting Bold Coast Dreams for Sony and created this image of my Daughter Myla, looking out on the open Atlantic during a big winter storm. You can see the full film here.”

“I rarely work in my own backyard so I don't get to be with my kids on assignment much. It was so fun to spend time with my daughter in the field doing what I love best: shooting.”

Ira Block

Alpha-Universe-Best-Of-2021-Ira-Block.jpg

Photo by Ira Block. Sony Alpha 7C. Sony 35mm f/1.8. 1/125-sec., f/2.8, ISO 3200

“During the pandemic I was working on a project about my 100-year-old mother who still works in her shop in Brooklyn. She was returning home  and I shot her walking down the long corridor to her apartment.”

“The image illustrates how lonely older people are, which was exacerbated by the pandemic. And since it is my mother it is even more meaningful to me.”

Ashley Noel

Alpha-Universe-Best-Of-2021-Ashley-Noel.jpeg

Photo by Ashley Noel. Sony Alpha 7 II. Sony 85mm f/1.4 G Master. 1/100-sec., f/4, ISO 500

“This was a spontaneous moment. I was walking by Radio City on a gloomy afternoon, and was struck by this particular scene. I quickly stopped, grabbed my camera, and tried to focus as quickly as I could on the subject (the couple). To my advantage, I was somewhat centered behind the subjects, with the beautiful Radio City marquee in the foreground. I knew my 85mm f/1.4 GM lens would nail it and I simply got lucky.”

“I’ve always loved the vintage styled Radio City Music Hall marquee. It is quintessential NYC. It’s representative of so much and it’s pure NYC. To me, it’s timeless, it could be 1945 or it could be 2021.  Like all my shots, this was a spontaneous NY moment, in which I happened to be walking by Radio City, on a rather gloomy, rainy afternoon. I saw a couple standing on the corner, umbrellas in hand, engaged in conversation with each other, standing in a posture that I loved. Radio City was the backdrop, along with the gloomy day and slick NY streets. For me, it was the perfect ‘NY moment.’ As an avid New Yorker, I’ve come to appreciate how everything about New York involves a symphony of so much: colors, textures, emotions, shapes, and sounds, and this moment for me, captured that all. One tiny little moment can encompass so much of what NYC is to me.”

Neil Leifer

Alpha-Universe-Best-Of-2021-Neil-Leifer.jpg

Photo by Neil Leifer. Sony Alpha 1. Sony 24-70mm f/2.8 G Master. 1/2000-sec., f/9, ISO 1600

“The picture was taken with a remote camera placed at ground level and fired from 50ft away. I used the Sony 24-70mm and shot at a 35mm focal length.”
 
“It is a favorite image of mine because I had this idea all year and when I finally got the chance to shoot it everything worked perfectly. It is meaningful to me because it is nice to see a good idea work out.”

Jean Fruth

Alpha-Universe-Best-Of-2021-Jean-Fruth.jpg

Photo by Jean Fruth. Sony Alpha 1. Sony 16-35mm f/2.8 G Master. 1/800-sec., f/5, ISO 200

“For the first time in my career as a sports photographer, I had the opportunity to photograph a baseball game between two teams comprised entirely of girls. As a woman photographer working in a sport dominated by boys and men, spending the day with the Los Angeles Monarchs and the San Diego Mustangs, who play under the Baseball For All umbrella, was emotional, inspiring and one of the most enjoyable shooting experiences of my career.”

“There’s a big contrast between being the only girl on a boys team, and playing for a team with just girls. There are soulful bonds among the girls who no longer have the spotlight of being ‘the only one.’ They play with the same intensity as the boys, but the atmosphere is much more relaxed. I especially love the warm, happy smiles, and the sense of inclusion that this ‘team huddle’ photograph evokes.”

“Women have made great strides in the front office, in coaching and as members of the media, but here were two dozen players blazing a path directly to a baseball diamond. As one Monarch said, ‘There will definitely be a girl playing in the majors one day. I am not sure when, but it will happen. We are too powerful not to get there one day.’”

Max Boncina

Alpha-Universe-Best-Of-2021-Max-Boncina.jpg

Photo by Max Boncina. Sony Alpha 1. Sony 16-35mm f/2.8 G Master. 6-sec., f/11, ISO 400

“The capture went smoothly considering all the components. My friend Frederic, brought the book light that he is holding in his hand. The three orange lights he brought as well. The one ‘in the lamp’ is actually a candle. I sat opposite him with my phone light on to further illuminate the bunker. With my tripod set, I placed the timer and set the long exposure for six seconds. At last the trickiest closing action; I counted to three and then RAN out through the door behind me. Thus creating that ghost effect. I was in the frame for only half the exposure time.”

“For the uninitiated, Paris is divided into 20 arrondissements (districts). Some more famous than the others, such as the Latin Quarter (the 5th), the Marais (3rd and 4th) or the Louvre (1st). ‘Arrondissement Zero’ alludes to the hidden world beneath the streets of Paris. On a warm night on a picturesque boulevard of the French capital, Frederic and I lifted the sidewalk grate. The voices of Parisians echoed above as we crawled and descended further and further down. The last challenge was pushing myself through a former electrical pipe channel. Narrow as it was, I was soon stuck. I had to focus, calm myself and eventually (and patiently) wiggle through. Upon reaching the World War Two era bunker no more noises reached us now. We breathed in the silence and began to explore our surroundings.”

“This title and image embodies the exploring spirit that urges me to go further and farther. The image even more gratifying for I was in this city that I revere most with the photographer I admire most. As someone much more eloquent than myself said; ‘don't go because someone tells you to go, don't go because it would make you look good, go because it was written in your DNA.’”

Vincent Lim

Alpha-Universe-Best-Of-2021-Vincent-Lim.JPG

Photo by Vincent Lim. Sony Alpha 7R IV. Sony 16-35mm f/2.8 G Master. 1/2-sec., f/2.8, ISO 100

“Santorini has always been on my bucket list, and fortunately I was able to travel there this year.  The location of the shot is where everyone on Santorini comes to watch the sunset, which overlooks the town of Oia. I had to come here 30 minutes before golden hour, and even that early I struggled to find an open place to set my tripod down. Sunset was absolutely beautiful, and as the sky began to turn dark, the lights of Oia came on. I knew I wanted a photo at blue hour as the city lights and glowing infinity pools illuminated the scene. This turned out to be my favorite photo from 2021.”

“Travel is the main reason I started photography, and is what continues to feed into my creativity.  Throughout this ongoing pandemic, most of the world shut its borders and it became extremely difficult to travel anywhere. It came to a point where it was almost two years since I took my last trip, and I felt as if something was missing in my life. When the opportunity came, I jumped on the first flight to a place I've never been to. I got to explore a new country with my wife and finally felt that rush of creativity again.”

Patrick Murphy-Racey

Alpha-Universe-Best-Of-2021-Patrick-Murphy-Racey.JPG

Photo by Patrick Murphy-Racey. Sony Xperia 1 II. 1/640-sec., f/2.2, ISO 50

It's been said that the best camera is the one you have with you.  It's really true.  Xperia is with me 24/7/365 so I always have it with me when an opportunity for a great photo presents itself.  This was shot on AZ Hwy 78 just East of Morenci, AZ near the New Mexico border.  I can't help but shoot my bike in great landscape scenes, plus when your primary tool for social media also happens to be your camera... all the better!

“I love to shoot and ride motorcycles. When I can do both at the same time, I'm a happy guy.  Motorcycling is all about freedom and so is Xperia. I can use it for navigation, figure out where the best places are to eat, and then make breathtaking images and videos. It even allows me to text and make calls too!  The three lenses are amazing, sharp, and render color in a way that rivals my Alpha 1. Even Sony's smaller sensors allow for extreme dynamic range and in low light.  It's more portable than any other camera I own so when I pack for a trip on the bike, Xperia is one of the first things that gets included. I've had a longstanding dream to own a second bike that lives in the Western United States. That dream came true this year so I can fly and ride anytime I want to. The bike is in AZ right now but I'll move it to CO this summer. After that, I hope to move it around and ride it in MT, OR, WA, NV, WY, UT, and ID.”

Robert Evans

Alpha-Universe-Best-Of-2021-Robert-Evans.jpg

Photo by Robert Evans. Sony Alpha 1. Sony 24-105mm f/4 G. 1/400-sec., f/4, ISO 50

“I captured this image while on assignment in Zermatt, Switzerland this summer while hiking in the mountains.”

“This is my favorite image I captured in 2021 because to me, this farmer symbolizes all people of the world getting back to life, moving closer to normal and experiencing the world they are accustomed to, after 2020. Beautiful scenery, fresh air, bright sunshine, routine, and the mundane everyday tasks we all have begrudged before, are eagerly welcomed back into our lives with joy and appreciation. One step at a time we move onward.”

Nino Rakichevich

Alpha-Universe-Best-Of-2021-Nino-Rakichevich.jpg

Photo by Nino Rakichevich. Sony Alpha 7R III. Sony 24-70mm f/2.8 G Master. 1/1000-sec., f/5.6, ISO 100

“I love this photo because it was unexpected! I was scouting locations for a photoshoot when I spotted this gorgeous white horse.”

“It’s my favorite photo of the year because it reminds me that good photos are everywhere. You just need to observe your surroundings and be ready. That’s exactly why I always have my Sony camera with me!”

Andrew Eggers

Alpha-Universe-Best-Of-2021-Andrew-Eggers.JPG

Photo by Andrew Eggers. Sony Alpha 1. Sony 12-24mm f/2.8 G Master.

“My friend Felipe called me at about noon the same day this was taken, to say he booked a helicopter to fly over the Bay Area. We were both in Sacramento at the time and made the trip down Interstate 80 in time for a flight of a lifetime.”

“This image was taken in my first helicopter flight and the conditions were perfect, to say the least. It's an incredible feeling being in the air seeing this sight with your own eyes after seeing so many photographs before. That is why this is my most memorable shot of 2021.”

Sal D’Alia

Alpha-Universe-Best-Of-2021-Salvatore-D_Alia.jpg

Photo by Salvatore D’Alia. Sony Alpha 7 III. Sony 24-70mm f/2.8 G Master. 1/400-sec., f/6.3, ISO 320

“I shot this on a helicopter flight for an assignment with a fellow Alpha collective member, we are in the peak of the new wave of Omicron cases, there are lines of people around every block, waiting to be tested. This sunset over NYC feels different, the city feels different.”

“I flew many times over the city, often for a job assignment, but this time the photos feel different. I'm looking at my city struggling and fighting against the pandemic, trying not to give up to that freedom we got back with vaccinations. This photo feels nostalgic but I also feel there's something burning in the air above the city.”

Tony Gale

Alpha-Universe-Best-Of-2021-Tony-Gale.jpg

Photo by Tony Gale. Sony Alpha 1. Sony 24-105mm f/4 G. 20-sec., f/5, ISO 400

“After dinner in Tuscany, I looked out the window and saw the cloud over the town and loved the glow it created. I used a Sony Alpha 1 with a Sony 24-105mm f/4 G on a Gitzo tripod to capture it.”

“It is so hard to pick an image from a whole year. Tomorrow I might pick a different one. But today I picked this one because it was from the first international trip I have done since the pandemic started. Getting back to Italy, one of my favorite places, was a wonderful experience. Plus, night photography is super fun.”

Jake Chamseddine

Alpha-Universe-Best-Of-2021-Jake-Chamseddine.jpg

Photo by Jake Chamseddine. Sony Alpha 1. Sony 24-70mm f/2.8 G Master.

“This photo was taken in Yosemite while on a road trip with my best friend. We stayed overnight in the parking lot down the road and then woke up for sunrise.”

“I love the motion in this photo. The slow shutter speed gives a fluid look to this image and helps me feel something a bit more than a static image.”

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