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Best Of 2021: Our Most Meaningful Photos Of The Year, Part 2

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 2 below and stay tuned to Alpha Universe this week for more.

Photo by Brooke Shaden. Sony Alpha 7R IV. Sony 24-70mm f/2.8 G Master.

Photo by Nancy Borowick. Sony Alpha 1. Sony 35mm f/1.4 G Master. 1/200-sec., f/3.2, ISO 640

Photo by Chad Wadsworth. Sony Alpha 1. Sony 35mm f/1.8. 1/60-sec., f/7.1, ISO 100

Photo by Quay Hu. Sony Alpha 1. Sony 12-24mm f/2.8 G Master.

Photo by MeRa Koh. Sony Alpha 1. Sony 24-70mm f/2.8 G Master. 1/160-sec., f/3.5, ISO 100

Photo by Eric Ward. Sony Alpha 7R III. Sony 85mm f/1.4 G Master. 1/250-sec., f/2.8, ISO 400

Photo by Sara France. Sony Alpha 1. Sony 50mm f/1.2 G Master. 1/1000-sec., f/1.6, ISO 800

Photo by Jeremy Cohen. Sony Alpha 1. Sony 35mm f/1.4 G Master. 1/2000-sec., f/1.4, ISO 100

Photo by Michael Rubenstein. Sony Alpha 1. Sony 50mm f/1.2 G Master. 1/125-sec., f/1.2, ISO 125

Photo by Caroline Jensen. Sony Alpha 7S III. Sony 90mm f/2.8 Macro G. 1/1000-sec., f/9, ISO 500

Photo by Shawn Walters. Sony Alpha 7R IV. Sony 35mm f/1.4 G Master. 1/160-sec., f/1.4, ISO 125

Alpha-Universe-Best-Of-2021-Garrette-Baird.jpeg

Alpha-Universe-Best-Of-2021-Ben-Moon.jpg

This week 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 image of the year and this week we're counting down with a selection of photos and the story behind each one. In Part Two below, Artisans Of Imagery Garrette Baird, Nancy Borowick, Sara France, Caroline Jensen, MeRa Koh, Michael Rubenstein, Ben Moon, Brooke Shaden, Chad Wadsworth and Alpha Collective members Jeremy Cohen, Quay Hu, Shawn Walters and Eric Ward 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. See Part 2 of 4.  

Brooke Shaden

Photo by Brooke Shaden. Sony Alpha 7R IV. Sony 24-70mm f/2.8 G Master.

Photo by Brooke Shaden. Sony Alpha 7R IV. Sony 24-70mm f/2.8 G Master.

“Using a mattress on the floor and my camera on a tripod, I photographed the bed and myself in multiple images, later stitching them together. To create the hole in the mattress, I photographed the bed sheet at different angles to the window light, each hanging off the side of the bed, to edit into the shape of a hole. My favorite detail is the indentation on the pillow.”

“Depicting loss in an image can be difficult, often coming across as personal, too specific, or contrite. This image captured loss in an instant, without being personal. The hole in the mattress can symbolize anything or anyone. For me, it represents the continued goodbyes of my foster kids as they move on from my home. For you, it may represent something else entirely. A successful image, to me, is one that means something specific to each individual, yet touches people universally.”

Nancy Borowick

Photo by Nancy Borowick. Sony Alpha 1. Sony 35mm f/1.4 G Master. 1/200-sec., f/3.2, ISO 640

Photo by Nancy Borowick. Sony Alpha 1. Sony 35mm f/1.4 G Master. 1/200-sec., f/3.2, ISO 640

“This was a moment that had played out many times over the course of 2021. Parenting during a pandemic has been a challenge for so many and sometimes all you have left by dinner time is ramen on the floor with the iPad.”

“This image is meaningful to me because I was so tired when I took it but it brought me so much joy to see the interaction between my dog and my son's food, and my son and his movie. Everyone was happy, everyone had their own narrative, and as tired as I was, I knew I needed to make this photograph. The light was lovely, the shadows and reflection were a nice complement and it just embodied motherhood for me in that moment.”

Chad Wadsworth

Photo by Chad Wadsworth. Sony Alpha 1. Sony 35mm f/1.8. 1/60-sec., f/7.1, ISO 100

Photo by Chad Wadsworth. Sony Alpha 1. Sony 35mm f/1.8. 1/60-sec., f/7.1, ISO 100

“Each year I cover the Trans Pecos Festival of Music and Love in Marfa, TX and a highlight is the Saturday afternoon baseball game between the Los Yonkes Gallos de Marfa and the Texas Playboys of Austin. This dugout scene between player and pup was pre-game and was captured candidly with my Sony a1 and the FE 35mm f/1.8 lens - my goto for lightweight documentation.”

“Chance, kismet, luck, whatever you call it, photography is a lightning rod for moments that your eye normally passes over, crystalizing a scene that allows you to linger and appreciate the oddity, humor or coincidence of an otherwise unseen slice of time. My heart skipped a beat when I walked up on these two apparently having a pre-game discussion. Shielded from the crowd by the dugout, I was the sole witness to this little moment.”

Quay Hu

Photo by Quay Hu. Sony Alpha 1. Sony 12-24mm f/2.8 G Master.

Photo by Quay Hu. Sony Alpha 1. Sony 12-24mm f/2.8 G Master.

“We took a family trip to NYC. As we were walking around taking in the sights. I saw my youngest daughter Khloe sitting down and looking down on the city. She was amazed by what she saw.”

“It totally captures the moment and genuine emotions of my daughter. It was the first family trip in a few years due to the pandemic and to see her so happy and amazed by what she saw gave me so much emotion.”

MeRa Koh

Photo by MeRa Koh. Sony Alpha 1. Sony 24-70mm f/2.8 G Master. 1/160-sec., f/3.5, ISO 100

Photo by MeRa Koh. Sony Alpha 1. Sony 24-70mm f/2.8 G Master. 1/160-sec., f/3.5, ISO 100

“This is the first time Isabella has ever looked at the camera and smiled. This was a miracle photo shoot. Isabella, their daughter, was born with Phelan McDermid Syndrome. For her this causes global developmental delays and several disabilities, such as low-muscle tone that affects her sitting, standing and walking, as well as speech and feeding difficulties. I’ve since learned Phelan McDermid Syndrome presents differently for every child. Isabella is six years old, non-verbal and in her wheelchair most of the time. I think her brother's superpower, Jackson, is that he walks, no…he RUNS through walls. Where some of us might see a barrier or hesitate to extend love, let alone shower others with love, Jackson runs right through as if there is no reason to wait. He is always reaching for Isabella, touching her, comforting her, letting her know he is there. It is one of the most touching, moving bonds I have ever photographed.”

“Jennifer, Isabella’s mom, and I decided the two of them would come early. While Jennifer got some pampering with having her Hair & Makeup done, Isabella would have a chance to acclimate to the studio. I had so many people praying for this photo shoot. I wanted nothing more than for Isabella to feel safe and at ease. When I heard she loves Tummy Time, I got on the floor with her and spent this wonderful, sacred time connecting at her level. I wanted her to know she is beautiful, mysterious, and such a gift to spend time with…that she didn’t need to perform or feel pressured to be anything but herself for the photo shoot.  When it came time for the photo shoot, Isabella gave us all the greatest gift. She let us in.”

Garrette Baird

Alpha-Universe-Best-Of-2021-Garrette-Baird.jpeg

Photo by Garrette Baird. Sony Alpha 1. Sony 24-70mm f/2.8 G Master.

“Playing my uncle’s favorite song the trumpet’s melody carried us through a few moments of remembrance as we stood at his funeral saying our final farewell to a beloved family member taken from us too early.”

“It reminds me that life and our loved ones are so very precious and that every moment we spend with them is another opportunity to create a memory that will last forever.”

Eric Ward

Photo by Eric Ward. Sony Alpha 7R III. Sony 85mm f/1.4 G Master. 1/250-sec., f/2.8, ISO 400

Photo by Eric Ward. Sony Alpha 7R III. Sony 85mm f/1.4 G Master. 1/250-sec., f/2.8, ISO 400

“Knowing that I had an upcoming shoot, I had been monitoring these sunflower blooms several miles from my home, waiting for the perfect blooms. This field is grown by a local farmer who uses them for producing sunflower oil and encourages the public to enjoy them before they're harvested. (I'd never done a portrait shoot before, but as you'll read in a moment the circumstances were special.)”

“I was asked by the daughter of a dear friend if I would shoot her senior pictures, which isn't something that I've ever done before. However, she had just, successfully finished an almost two year fight against a rare form of brain cancer and I jumped at the opportunity to be a part of capturing the strong young woman that she has shown the community that she is. This photo, the last frame from that day, reminded me of the joy on the other side of struggle.”

Ben Moon

Alpha-Universe-Best-Of-2021-Ben-Moon.jpg

Photo by Ben Moon. Sony Alpha 1. Sony 50mm f/1.2 G Master.

“This location near my home on the Oregon Coast is only accessible during the lowest tides and when the ocean swells are calm. During an extremely low tide, my girlfriend and I explored this area with our dogs, walking barefoot through tunnels that are usually full of water.”

“During the past two years of global anxiety due to the pandemic, exploring my backyard on the rugged Oregon Coast with my pup Nori has been an incredible antidote to all the uncertainty. Meeting my partner Sophie, a gifted photographer and wonderful human, early in the year has been an indescribable light amidst it all. Capturing this moment between her and Nori in a place I love seemed to sum up all of what has brought so much joy this year.”

Sara France

Photo by Sara France. Sony Alpha 1. Sony 50mm f/1.2 G Master. 1/1000-sec., f/1.6, ISO 800

Photo by Sara France. Sony Alpha 1. Sony 50mm f/1.2 G Master. 1/1000-sec., f/1.6, ISO 800

“After the bride got ready I stepped away to let her have a moment.  I shot this at a very shallow depth of field (1.6) to keep focus on her and framed her with the greenery around her as foreground. The most important thing about this was the moment. Anticipating it, helping to facilitate it and ultimately taking the photo at just the right time.”

“This moment encapsulates the feeling of so many of my clients this year. The overwhelming joy of their wedding day finally happening. After postponements and setbacks, the joy that comes is impossible to contain. Being there not only to be part of that experience with them as well as capture these little moments make it all worth it.”

Jeremy Cohen

Photo by Jeremy Cohen. Sony Alpha 1. Sony 35mm f/1.4 G Master. 1/2000-sec., f/1.4, ISO 100

Photo by Jeremy Cohen. Sony Alpha 1. Sony 35mm f/1.4 G Master. 1/2000-sec., f/1.4, ISO 100

“This photo was a portrait of one of the first dates I went on with my now girlfriend, Kylea. It may not be the most interesting photo to a random viewer, but to me, it's a memory I'll always cherish and can look back at this photo and instantly remember how amazing of a day it was.”

Michael Rubenstein

Photo by Michael Rubenstein. Sony Alpha 1. Sony 50mm f/1.2 G Master. 1/125-sec., f/1.2, ISO 125

Photo by Michael Rubenstein. Sony Alpha 1. Sony 50mm f/1.2 G Master. 1/125-sec., f/1.2, ISO 125

“After my wife came home from the hospital in August I felt like I needed to document the moment. That it would be important to us later in our lives. I had my Alpha 1 and my new 50mm 1.2 was on it already. I asked her if it was OK with her if I made a few images and she said yes, so I did. There wasn't all that much to it, other than having the camera ready to go and knowing that I needed to make the photograph.”

“Let's face it, these past two years have been difficult at best. For a few months there, in the summer of 2021, my wife and I thought something good might come out of this period in our lives. It was not to be. She miscarried in her 16th week. Complications kept her in the hospital for days where a constant hemorrhage almost killed her. I can't think of a more painful, difficult period in my life let alone our 7 year marriage. The only way I could deal with it was to photograph the moments and hope that eventually, we would be able to move through it. For me, photography is about real, vicerral moments. I enjoy the pretty stuff, but being able to use photography as a way to process intimacy and pain and joy is essential to my work.”

Caroline Jensen

Photo by Caroline Jensen. Sony Alpha 7S III. Sony 90mm f/2.8 Macro G. 1/1000-sec., f/9, ISO 500

Photo by Caroline Jensen. Sony Alpha 7S III. Sony 90mm f/2.8 Macro G. 1/1000-sec., f/9, ISO 500

“This shot was captured with my faithful 90mm macro and Sony Alpha 7S III. I shot at f/9 to get more in focus. I tend to shoot really shallow, but the details were really important here. This little girl was not alone, so I was very still while they all buzzed around my head. I waited for one to land on the half-open bloom and then took the shot! It is actually quite hard to catch them as they move so fast and in all directions. I loved the framing on this one.”

“This image may not be emotional for everyone, but my heart and passion is preserving the native prairie on my farm. The land we use for native prairie would be worth much more as cropland, but we prioritize the native habitat. A lot of money, time, sweat and tears (literally!) goes into it all, just to get it to the point where it can sustain itself for future generations. Seeing bees on my native tulips this past spring made it all worth it.”

Shawn Walters

Photo by Shawn Walters. Sony Alpha 7R IV. Sony 35mm f/1.4 G Master. 1/160-sec., f/1.4, ISO 125

Photo by Shawn Walters. Sony Alpha 7R IV. Sony 35mm f/1.4 G Master. 1/160-sec., f/1.4, ISO 125

“This is my most meaningful photo of 2021. The moment my daughter was born. My wife and I had been trying to get pregnant for almost two years. After 24 hours in labor the doctor said we need to do a C-section. 10 minutes later she was born.  At this exact moment when I took this picture, I remember thinking to myself I had never been so immediately in love, yet so terrified at the same time.”

“I was only allowed in about a minute before she was born, so I quickly had to see what the lighting was, and so I set the camera to aperture priority, high drive and Auto ISO with a minimum shutter speed set. I was actually very nervous that I wasn’t going to get a good picture of her first moments because the lighting was so strange in the room and I was so worried and excited. But my Alpha 7RIV and 35mm f/1.4 G Master nailed it.”

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