So that was 2016

31st December 2016
There's plenty of nostalgia going on at this time of year and a lot of what you'll read will probably be about how strange 2016 was. There seems to be an unusual amount of talk about celebrities who died and even more about some others in the spotlight who came to positions of influence and power seemingly against the odds (and what many would say is better judgment). I've little doubt the world would be a better place if some of the big political names of 2016 could swap places with the likes of Leonard Cohen and George Michael, but this is a photography website so I'll get back on track. Suffice to say the past twelve months have been unusual for my photography as well as the general state of the world. Maybe it's rubbing off on me.

I had a few firsts this year. The first of the firsts was the first book project I've been involved in - Exploring Ireland's Wild Atlantic Way with Dave Flanagan of Three Rock Books. It was a year in the making and the first few months of 2016 were when we really started to put it together having gathered enough information. Working with Dave was a pleasure and I really enjoyed the process of putting the whole thing together in the end. So much so that when it finally went off to the printers I had a hole in my life that I didn't quite know how to fill. The constant engagement during the final few weeks of the project was very satisfying and I've been struggling to find that sense of satisfaction since. I have a few book ideas of my own but can't seem to get them off the ground. Anyway, the book is being well received. Though I miss the process I'm very pleased with the result and it's one of the few things in my life I take great pride in. If you haven't gotten yourself a copy head over to the Three Rock Books website, Amazon, or your local bookshop (berate them if it's not on the shelves) and check it out. If you've landed on my website and read as far as this then I think you'll enjoy the book.

The second first of 2016 was leading a photography workshop back in March. It was a bit of a leap of faith to decide to do it but I figured that I certainly know more than total beginners do and if nothing else they'd hopefully enjoy just being outdoors in West Kerry. It was honestly one of the most stressful things I've ever done and though I don't think I showed it I was a highly strung nervous wreck for the entire weekend. The light was particularly dull for nearly the whole course, making things less than ideal. We all know it's easy when the conditions just present themselves to you but there wasn't much more than grey, flat light for most of the weekend and it was wrecking my head. That said, all the participants said they enjoyed it and learned loads, nobody died and one of them even emailed me recently to say she started pursuing photography more seriously after the course and is now selling images to giants such as the GAA and Glanbia. She had a background in the film industry and obviously had an eye from past experience but I'm going to grant myself some tiny fraction of the credit (only because she said so).

As well as these two milestones (that's a bit too grand a word but I can't think of another) I sold a few prints and even had about 12 seconds in the spotlight when I photographed a killer whale at work and the images (which weren't very good) went slightly viral within Ireland. It was great to see people taking an interest in Irish wildlife and hopefully someone out there went beyond a social media post and delved a little deeper into the wonders of the natural world. I'm still nowhere near able to make a living from photography and even further from figuring out how it might even be possible but it's always nice to see people take note in some way.

Despite all the positive happenings of the past year I felt in a creative rut for most of 2016. I got a few images I like, some of which are down below, but I'm not all that psyched on what I'm doing right now. It's hard to separate myself from the images and look at them objectively and this might be why I'm not so keen on what it is I'm doing at the moment. For reasons I can't totally figure out I've been feeling less excited about things outside of photography too and perhaps when I look at my more recent photographs they're tainted by that association with a certain time in my life. Anyway, enough with the deep and meaningful. At the end of the day I'm a lucky bastard to be able to live the life I do. It's up to me to keep trying and walking that fine line between making it happen and taking what comes. Big thanks for all the support everybody sent my way in 2016. I hope it's made you think about the world some bit and showed what a wonderful planet we live on. Keep making it wonderful.

An image that worked out better than expected considering I hadn't checked whether or not the sun would set in that gap. Plus it ended up making the cover of a book, which is cool. Dunmore Head, Co. Kerry.

This was the first calm day after a shockingly stormy winter and I was up long before dawn to enjoy it. Though I had made a nice sunrise image from the same morning I prefer this for the trippy reflections. Mount Brandon, Co. Kerry.

My only half decent stormy image from all the rough weather of early 2016. Clogher, Co. Kerry.

Driftwood fire selfie from a solo kayaking trip to Illauntannig. Maharees, Co. Kerry.

Jasmine drying off after a swim in Peddler's Lake on one of the few fine summer evenings we had this year. Conor Pass, Co. Kerry.

Nothing you haven't seen before but I'm a sucker for these kind of scenes. Conor Pass, Co. Kerry.

The only wildlife image I'm very pleased with from this year, which is a little disappointing given some of the incredible marine activity I got to see at work. Gannets, Dingle Bay, Co. Kerry.

An amazing sunset after a very grey day in Co. Donegal. I think this is the best beach I've ever been to in Ireland, though I'm sure that sky colours my view. Boyeeghter, Co. Donegal.

A much more subtle image from the same evening and almost the same spot. Looking back towards the beach at Boyeeghter with the red glow from the cloud still lighting the landscape. Co. Donegal.

Dawn at Fanad Lighthouse. The past three images were all taken within 13 hours, showing how it's often feast or famine with inspiration. Co. Donegal.

Despite the Sikkim expedition being quite mind-blowing I didn't get all that many images with the wow factor. This is one I like, not because it was the result of any mastery of photography skill but because look at that landscape! India.

Seán and Damien posing in front of some unclimbed monsters on our last day at altitude. Once again it's a case of the landscape making this one. India.

After a month away from the sea it was nice to come home and revel in it again. Coumeenole, Co. Kerry.

Sunrise on the Black Valley on a November morning. A nice image from a tough camping trip in the mountains that broke my tent. Cruach Mhór, Co. Kerry.

A decent image from a day when I'd have rather been in the water myself. Anascaul Rivermouth, Co. Kerry.


Photo comment By Joseph Cashell: Thought your photos were class when I first met ya Rich and every year they get a bit better, looking forward to seeing your shots of 2017. P.S. This is still the site I recommend to people out here when they ask me about the beauty of Ireland.

Leave a comment

Your Name
Your Email
Your Comment
No info required here, please press the button below.