This was going to be a top ten. But then it became impossible to keep to just that figure. Choosing 30 even required a bit of restraint.
In a year that it can be easy to assert nothing happened because of the pandemic, I was able to still find adventure. It is clear my thematic focus this year has been what is happening on the street, conflict, drone, art, and sometimes the mixing thereof.
The Wisconsin State Capitol Building is a central focus because this is my neighborhood. The building is located on a geographically unique natural feature for a state capitol in that it is on an isthmus. The square nestled in between two lakes has many moods.
The streets surrounding the Capitol Building, specifically State Street, offer a daily human carnival if you keep your eyes open. I use a Tamron 18-400mm lens to keep my distance in order to not be seen. It allows me to watch these tiny dramas unfold without disrupting their unrehearsed performances.
The unjust killing of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and other African-Americans sparked national protests. Madison traffic was frequently shut down as massive crowds marched for justice. Living across the street from the police station meant that sometimes, at all hours, the protests were literally on my doorstep.
Peaceful protests sometimes devolved into street violence. Early on the Wisconsin State Troopers clashed with protesters. One night the statues of representing Women’s suffrage and noted anti-slavery activist were torn down and dragged through the streets. I had the unfortunate experience of being tear gassed several times during the chaos. But I also got to meet the sweetest, kindest, and most generous people in this area. When I was hungry they fed me. When I was in pain they came to my aid. When I was in danger they protected me.
In stark contrast to the BLM protests were the anti-mask and election protests staged by Trump supporters. In principle they wanted the same thing, a better America. Where they starkly continue to differ is for whom; on the one side everyone regardless of race, color, orientation or creed and on the opposing side protection from “them” by returning to a time when America was great. I’ll let you infer which side brought guns to back up their arguments.
Even in these unprecedentedly dark times I found the time to work with a favored artistic brush, light. Long exposures require the cover of darkness to work in, and I feel most alive at night. Life on the isthmus isn’t always so kinetic, so it takes a bit of forethought to imagine how to these will look beforehand. The lights captured on the street are merely short snapshots of time. Put them together and they seem to come alive.
While the pandemic prevented me from wandering too far from home I was able to escape to South Dakota’s badlands. Traveling with me can be an exercise in frustration for those who like to plan, because I intentionally do very little research beforehand. Around every corner is adventure when you know little about what will come next. I am also a fan of the drama that inclement weather can provide.
The Red Sessions
On Thursday nights I host a live show on State Street where I can peacock. There are also various venues around Madison that cater to those who like to show off. But those things are shut down until further notice, so I decided to focus on documenting a select few of those outfits. A trio of them became known as “The Red Sessions.”
The last photo I have decided to highlight is merely a personal favorite.
Here is hoping 2021 brings all new adventures.