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.

Welcome Back to Imaginegnat

It is with great joy that I am reactivating this site after almost 2 years in hibernation. The reactivation is symbolic of a mental, physical and creative rebirth for me. I don’t want to re hash my last 2+ years of my life, but I do want to highlight a few things from 2021 that I think are important and share a little bit about the future of this site!

In January of 2021 a lot was going on in the world, in my work and in my personal life. I took a road trip in January to escape. I was alone in my car driving to Kansas City to see some dear friends. Somewhere in Iowa on I35W I made a commitment to myself that this was the year I was going to make the changes I needed to feel good and take back control of my life. At that moment, I did not have a specific plan, just elements of what I wanted to prioritize and work towards. Looking back, it was this very moment that my life changed for the better. I was on a new road and journey. I was in control, or at least starting to take control.

Fast forward to today and here are are few high lights and significant changes in 2021. My twins’ graduated high school and went off to college leaving my wife and I as empty nesters! I quit my job of 25+ years. I started riding my bikes again and have re found my passion for bicycles. I have focused on learning, seeing and creating in my photography. I understand the deep rooted motivations behind my love for travel and adventure. I am seeing more clearly and prioritizing what is important in my life. I am finding deep satisfaction, comfort and inspiration in my personal relationships. I see my creative potential and realize that creating things, both physical and digital, are pieces of my identity that will create meaningful work and purpose for me going forward.

Over the coming months I am going to be sharing more about my future. I’ll be adding a formal photography portfolio, a storefront for digital media and art print purchases and cleaning up the archive to make this site more manageable. Lastly, I will be getting back to travel, photography and adventure.

For now, that’s all I am ready to share. I just wanted to wish you all well this holiday season and invite you to come back and follow along! I have a lot planned for 2022. Hope you give me a follow!

Shattered

I had planned on sharing some of my favorite images from the past few months around a theme of be still. I had edited the photos. Gathered my thoughts. I had every intention of sharing them this week. Then our week was shattered by the wrongful death of George Floyd and the chain of events that have followed.

While I am a white, privileged male and cannot fully understand nor comprehend the years of issues and challenges that have led to the events that are occurring in our city, I am still mourning. I am still shattered by the events. I have spent the last 30 years of my life in and around this city. I went to church for 10+ years just blocks from the scene of this horrific crime. I lived with my sister just miles away (she still lives there). I have ridden through these streets for 30+ years. I have tutored kids from this community (FWIW – I think I learned more from them than they did from me) . I have friends, family and coworkers that have shared with me they have gone to bed in fear and with the smell of smoke and teargas in their homes. Even though I write all of that, I still can’t fully understand what it is like to live in fear the way African Americans and minorities live in this country.

I had to go see things first hand. I don’t want to play into the hype and contribute to the drama that seems to be being built in our media an digital, social networks. Reading and listening to things paint a certain picture and I wanted to see it for myself. What I found was in fact shocking. It gave me even more empathy for what folks in that community are going through. It gave me hope as thousands were volunteering & cleaning up. I saw church and community leaders out in the streets. It helped me understand and see with my own eyes what years of injustice, fear and anger can lead too. It also helped me see hope rising from the ashes, something I would not have seen had I simply listened to the media and hype machines.

And with that, I am simply going to share a few images that moved me. I have a lot more but I think they are going to simply stay with me as a memory and a reminder.

And with that, here’s my parting shot. Shattered. I hope you all are well and safe.

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.

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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!