2021 – My year in photos

It’s that time of year again where many look back and prepare for a new year. I am one of those people. This activity is really hard wired in my brain. I need to look back not only to learn, but to truly put the year to rest and file it away. This year was a big year for sure. At times it seemed like it screamed by, but when I look at these images it seems that the year was never ending. For me, the year was filled with so many great moments. As I put time into this post, it is also clear that in addition to great moments, there is progression of my personal direction, well being and creative growth.

So sit back, grab a cup of coffee and consider this the great 2021 catch up post. I am highlighting some of the significant moments & memories as well as my favorite images. Don’t hesitate to reach out to GNAT at LIVE dot COM if you so desire or leave me a comment.

January 2021

Little did I know that this trip short trip to KC to visit friends would change the outlook on my year and my future. It was on this trip, alone in my car on I35W South, that I made a commitment to myself to prioritize me, my well being and my health. It was also on this trip that I started seeing and experiencing some creative freedom and direction. Below, is my favorite shot from that trip.

January also included a ski trip and family visit to Steamboat Springs. This was a trip we had planned last year but cancelled due to Covid and the ski resort shutting down. Lucky for us the passes for 2020 were honored and my brother and his wife were able to join us this year. Bonus!

March 2021

As the world began to open up again, we embarked on a final, family spring break. With our kids off to college in the fall, we knew we this was likely our last chance as a family unit of four before our kids head off to college so we went all in, went through all the safety protocols and testing, and ventured to Hawaii! It was truly magical and a great time. Lots of pics to share here. I am only going to highlight a few here.

A Covid Spring Break!

I love this image and how it reflects the challenging times we were experiencing. These kids are part of history and this image cements the time period we in. This was a whale watching tour with friends. And yes we saw whales. Lots of whales. Everywhere! See below.

It was on this trip I captured my favorite image of my son as well. This incredible young man has so many facets and is a thinker and lover of both fashion and art. This shot of him looking out into the distance in his hand painted shirt he purchased from a local artist captures that spirit exactly and perfectly.

Oh the places you will go and the things you will see in your lifetime!

May 2021

In the final days of my twins’ senior year, I was called into dad photo journalist role one last time for senior year prom. This was a prom like no other. No event. No dance. But our girl and her friends made the best of it. No dates and a boat cruz on Lake Minnetonka! What an incredible group of girls. Honestly, this may be my most fun photo shoot of the year!

This photo shoot for Senior Prom also gave me my favorite image of my daughter and maybe my personal favorite photo of 2021. Just like the photo of my son above from Hawaii, this image captures my daughter perfectly. Happy. Beautiful. Inspiring.

My daughter. Happy. Beautiful. Inspiring.

June 2021

June marked the a significant milestone with high school graduation for our twins. It was a joy to see my kids endure the crazy year, the changes in our society and the challenges in our eduction system. So proud of them. It also gave me my favorite dog & pet image of the year. So proud of these kids and check out our serious and scholarly dog Odie!

July 2021

July marked the decision to leave my place of employment of the past 25.5 years. We also visited grandma, family and friends in Colorado. Again, with our twins leaving for college, we took advantage of those last moments before they flew the nest. A side note here, Colorado and especially Estes Park area often make my wife and I contemplate life’s choices. It was also the low point of fitness in my entire life and was even more evident at 10,000+ feet! This year that was especially strong given we knew we’d be empty nest in the fall. No decisions made, but someday we hope to have another house or property somewhere. We love Minnesota, but we are growing not so fond of our winters. Just sayin’!

August 2021

August was highlighted with a visit up north enjoying my brother’s new cabin life. He bought an old, beaten down property and has spent the summer rebuilding. It’s not done yet, but it was great to be there and be together. I often miss the whole group family photo and this trip to the cabin was no exception. I did capture the dogs though!

We also dropped Nathan off at the University of Minnesota. Fun fact: He is staying in Frontier Hall, the same dorm I stayed in as a freshman when I attended the University of Minnesota!

September 2022

September marked the reality of empty nest life. We dropped Natalie off at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. I am sure any parent reading the next line will understand what I am about to write. It is incredible to see your kids off on this new and incredible journey. It is also incredibly heartbreaking and difficult to imagine relearning and letting go of the incredible 18+ years a family unit and pod. We were far from perfect parents, but this family is the best thing in our lives. So grateful and thankful for these two kids.

Leaving Nathan the prior week and dropping Natalie off in Wisconsin hit us pretty darn hard. While you prepare for these moments, you don’t really know what to prepare for. It hit us pretty hard and to combat that, we made our selves really really busy with friends, activities and travel. We capped off the month of September with a trip to Maine with our friends. I have so many images and thoughts from this trip but I will only share a few. One note, if you ever have the chance to visit Maine please go! It’s incredible.

October 2021

We were jam packed with stuff in October. A few highlights include seeing both Nathan and Natalie, lots of bike riding and out door activity as well as my birthday. I did not have my best photo month in October as I was focused on other stuff. But here is a fun one from my birthday outing with Nathan and Jen where we visited the Van Gogh Immersive experience. If ya look closely, you can see my self portrait and Jen and Nathan sitting on a bench in the background. Fun night!

Self portrait at the Immersive Van Gogh exhibit

November 2021

Two highlights to share about November. Both Jen an I traveled independently to Chicago to meet friends and we had our kids home for Thanksgiving. I even snuck in an extra short trip to Milwaukee as part of my picking up Natalie for break.

A night in Chicago!

Chicago – Here’s my favorite image from my Chicago with friends trip. I had this image in my head. I didn’t want to leave Chicago without capturing it.

Milwaukee Art Museum at Sunrise

I snuck in a dinner with friend and a Lake Michigan sunrise before picking Natalie up in Madison for Thanksgiving break.

Morning Trail Run – Turkey Trot 10K

This Thanksgiving, Jen and Natalie ran the Turkey Trot 10K together. It was a highlight for me seeing these two run together. Sorry, no pictures of Nathan as he was sick and in bed almost the entire Thanksgiving break.

December 2021

And to close out the year, December brings us the holidays, the ending of fall semester for our kids and road trips to visit family.

These two got through their first college semester and courses. It is a big transition and the first of many life changes for them. We are really proud of them. Minot delivered on the snow and the cold. Nothing like spending the day digging out of a fresh snowfall with Jen’s dad. This image has a real vintage feel to it and brings back a ton of memories for me.

And while 2021 is not officially over, that’s my year in photos review. I will have one more look back next week digging into my bikes, my riding and my photography!

Thanks to everyone for their friendship, their love and support during this fun and at time challenging year. I hope your holidays has been spectacular and may 2022 be your best year yet! Love you all.

Finding Words and Inspiration in this Strange Time

I have been silent here on the blog.  My last post was from January, what now seems like years ago.   Travel?   Hanging out with friends?  Walking a new city?  Eating out?  This past 5 or so weeks at home makes that trip feel like a distant memory.

Times sure are different now.  This “Shut In” is something few ever would have imagined! It’s drawn out highs and lows.  It’s exposed some terrible underpinnings of our society.   It’s exposed the delicate balance of our economy and our world.  It’s defined how small the world is and that despite any differences that cultures and races might have, we are one in the eyes of this virus & global pandemic.

I’ve tried to come up with words.  But frankly I don’t have them.  I am finding things out about myself and my family that I did not know or have taken for granted.  I am finding how much my kids, my wife and my friends mean to me.  I will only speak for myself, but it has had made me realize what is important.   I, for one, have taken family, kids, friends, employment, health care and travel for granted.  My thinking on these things has shifted from privilege to gift.   We each have our own view and coping mechanism, truth be told I am still trying to figure mine out at this crazy time. Thankfully I have a hobby and passion that documents my life.

Photography continues both inspire and calm me.  It is a joy in my life and at times like these, I sure love to look back at these incredible memories.   Here are just a few memories since my Seattle trip.   Hope you are safe.  I hope you and your loved ones are healthy.   We’ll get through this and I can’t wait to savor the things I have taken for granted for too long.   Love you all.  Hope you enjoy the pics.  Click on any of the images to go to slideshow mode. 

 

 

 

 

 

And with that, here is my final shot.  It is quite possibly one of my favorite shots ever.   It was earlier this year when my wife and I went to see our kids play music at the University of MN.   We had a free, Saturday afternoon and we were in Minneapolis.  We hit up the Walker Art Museum Free First Saturday and had a cocktail at Esker Grove.   While this photo might looked staged, it was not.  We had just walked out of the exhibit past these numbers and I saw this young man walk by me. I told my wife I had to follow him.  I was imagining the shot of him walking by these numbers but instead he sat down for about 15-20 seconds.  I snapped two photos and walked on.   It just makes me smile.  Hope it makes you smile too.  I think the world needs this right now.

Processed with stamp

 

A Gnat Family Holiday Break – Costa Rica!

It’s 2020!  I made it another year here at the ImagineGnat blog. Committing for another year.  Before I get to both a look back as well a look forward, I wanted to share some pics from our recent trip to Costa Rica with my friends and family.  So….Get ready.  Heavy dosages of pictures of family and fun.

But first a few words.  For the first time in 20 years of marriage we broke family rules and traditions and escaped the cold.  We went to Costa Rica as a family.  My wife and I essentially captured our kids attention by removing them to another country.  As they have aged and they continue to become more independent, we have missed them.  So, taking them away seemed to be our only option.  To add to the fun, we also didn’t tell them where we were going until we got to the airport.

In all honesty, it was the best thing we have done and I think we all came home happier and closer.  I know my wife and I needed that connection time  with the kids. We also had a total blast.  Activities included hiking, kayaking, snorkeling, zip lining, surfing, slothing (guided tour looking for sloths), horseback riding, sleeping, family games, celebrating and on and on.    It was simply incredible.

And with that, I will just share the pics. Hope you enjoy them. Leave a comment if you have a question.  Click on any to go to slideshow mode.  Thanks and enjoy!

 

The Great Catch Up Post of 2019

It’s been a LOOOOOONNNNNGGGG time coming, but I am finally taking a moment to catch up on the gnat blog and fill you all in on what has been happening.  As much as things change, some things stay the same.  My spring and summer has been filled with bikes, family and photography.

As I look back over the last several months there have been a few common themes.  One of those themes is that I/we have been getting glimpses of the future.  For the first time in several years, I am finding some needed time to pursue both cycling and photography again.   Last fall, our kids got their driver’s licenses and I must say that with that comes a bit more time.  In that time, I have traveled, ridden my bike quite a lot, done a bike packing trip in Utah and shot a couple of events (Almanzo and Prom).

That said, those blocks of time are not always consistent.  Additionally, my wife and I are snagging every opportunity we can to relish time with our kids before they head off to college, hopefully, in two years!  But they have given me a sneak peek at the years ahead.

But with time, I have had a lot more time to think.  I am still taking photography a bit more seriously and trying to be intentional with the shots I have.  This gives me focus, but also gives me the ability to simply enjoy the setting and environment I am in.  I am finding more moments to simply take it all in as opposed trying to capture every moment.    I am still trying to find significance in my photography.  What do I want to do with it?  I still believe I want to do something more with it and I need the right kind of project to keep me motivated and out there.  I have a few ideas, but nothing firm enough to share today.

So with all that, here are some photos. I hope you find something here that makes you smile, inspires you or makes you think.

Family – Click on any image to go to slide show

BIKES – Click on any image to go to slide show

FRIENDS – Click on any image to go to slideshow

PHOTOGRAPHY – Click on any image to go to slideshow

 

And with that, a parting shot.   Jen and I celebrated 20 years of marriage. I am so lucky to have her in my life.  Thankful every day for her.

JWB-CU19-41

Ireland – The Postcard Series

I can’t believe it’s been two weeks since I’ve been back from Ireland.  While the two weeks seem like an eternity, I can close my eyes and immediately go back.  It was an incredible trip.   Filled with surprise and delight, some drama back home with our dog and the final challenge of getting home as the air line bumped us and gave our seats away.  But with two weeks at home, those issues that in the moment caused some stress are far behind and all I have is fond memories.  I’m super excited to share these images with you.  But first, a little background on the trip and the images.

JasonBoucher_Ireland_springbreak2019-54

We were there to follow our kids around. They were in Ireland on a concert band tour performing with Glenn and Ronan.  You may have heard of them as they became quite famous with their performance of an Adele song.  The connection to them comes from their band instructor that got his masters in Ireland and knows the two performers very well.  Our kids also performed some of their music in last year’s marching band show.  But what an incredible experience for these kids.  They performed in Belfast, Galway and Dublin.

JasonBoucher_Ireland_springbreak2019-72

While there was a parent trip, Jen and I planned our own trip.  This trip was different though as the concert band had 151 kids going  and given it was Spring Break, many parents joined the trip.  This gave us a lot of opportunity to see and plan stuff with our friends.  It’s crazy being halfway across the world sitting in a Irish pub listening to music with your friends or doing a walking tour on the Cliffs of Moher with your friends.   We loved it. It was a good balance of travel, adventure, and friends.

For camera gear I went small and light on this trip for camera gear.  I took only a 28mm and a 50mm lens.  Sure I would have loved a long zoom for some landscape work and what not, but with all the moving around, hiking and even biking on this trip, I just didn’t want to deal with it.  Loved this set up and the focus made my choices simple.  As a result, I really like the images.   Hope you enjoy them too.

And lastly, a few words on the images.  I will do a few featured post card type images and then down below, I will just do sort of a dump if you want to dig a bit deeper into the trip. Click on any image in the slide show below and you will get the slideshow mode.  If you have a question, please leave a comment and I’ll do my best to answer your question.

Thanks all. Enjoy the images!  And by all means, if you don’t have Ireland on  your travel destination list, I urge you to reconsider.  It was simply amazing.

JasonBoucher_Ireland_springbreak2019-87

Darkness cannot overcome light – Saint Patrick’s Cathedral – Dublin

JasonBoucher_Ireland_springbreak2019-70

Trim Castle sure is beautiful with blue skies and spring flowers

JasonBoucher_Ireland_springbreak2019-59

By the Sea – Inishmore, the largest of the Aran Islands – Note: This is my favorite personal picture from the trip.  I loved riding bikes all day with my wife and best friend

JasonBoucher_Ireland_springbreak2019-53

Cliffs of Moher –

JasonBoucher_Ireland_springbreak2019-43

Cliff’s of Moher Adventure walk with Farmer Patrick

JasonBoucher_Ireland_springbreak2019-26

Kinsale – What a stunning city on the south coast.  Home of many fine restaurants and our best meal of the trip at Fishy Fishy.

JasonBoucher_Ireland_springbreak2019-23

Rock of Cashel – Cashel, Ireland

JasonBoucher_Ireland_springbreak2019-17

Kilkenny Castle – What a stunning green space and historic castle.

JasonBoucher_Ireland_springbreak2019-14

A moment of relaxation at Kilkenny Castle

Honestly, it was hard to pic images.  I processed and uploaded about 90 images for our personal use and to do a photo book.   Here are a few more.

 

 

Thanks for checking in.  Hope you enjoyed the pics.