How goes the New Year so far? After only a week or two, it's hard to tell, but I'm sure we're all trying to keep our resolutions and promises for the year ahead. And if we falter on those commitments? Well, I'll be the first one to say, not to worry, because it's better to have several fresh starts, not just one.
This is probably my favorite photo when I was in Northern France, in the beautiful Alsace region, near the mountains of the Vosges. It was hastily taken in a moving bus, a complete happy accident. The light was perfect, being caught in that "magic hour" as it was starting to fade in the waning hours of the day. Fields of vineyards in autumnal colors, literally glowing in the sunlight. You wouldn't immediately think it was Europe -- no towering cathedrals or mountaintop castles. It was my personal favorite because it was a stroke of dumb luck with the camera, yet it perfectly captured the moment, not just in what I saw, but how it felt to see this view. I feel renewed every time I see this picture. I don't know why, but it gives me hope.

Sometimes photography is frustrating. You spend all this time examining your surroundings, gauging the subject matter and the light surrounding it, then fussing with the settings of the camera, only to come out with a photo that's nice enough, but never truly captures what your mind's eye saw in that moment. Every once in a while, you take a photo that you truly connect with. No one else will have this connection, it's something very personal, but it reminds you why you should never become a stranger with the camera. I hadn't taken a photo that gave me that feeling in a long while, and if it wasn't for this trip, I was feeling my time with the camera becoming stagnant. I was losing my connection with the images I was taking, and leaving the country was a well-needed shakeup to help bring things back into focus.

The trip as a whole, and this image, felt like a fresh start. I didn't need a new year to remind me to resolve a more creative life. I create things for others every day -- this reminds me to create for myself. Creating things that you have a personal connection to is a renewal. You feel fresh, not tired. You want to do more, not less. With any luck, this year will be about constant renewal.

Jaunty Fine Print: Photography by Denise Sakaki

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