With the call to prayer reverberating through the old city of Istanbul, the pianist in the lobby playing Bach Sinfonia in G – from the Christmas Oratorio, and happy laughter in the streets, I have to think, this is the way it should be. Peace on Earth.

Happy Holidays from all of us at Straw Hat Visuals!

Fresh snow in Alaska.

This has been a terrific week in our offices.

Laura, Sara and I have had three visitors bearing presents.

Brice, Dan and Tim brought the gifts of good humor, technical acumen and boundless energy to the studio. All students of Jonathan Blake Huer at Ball State, they have worked with us on projects on both coasts this year, and will do more of the same in 2014.

Bill explains analog solutions to the digital corps.

Together, we have muscled through a huge amount of work, editing and imaging non-stop.

The last eleven months Laura and I have been in constant motion.

Traveling more 440,000 kilometers it’s been a year of learning and exploration as we’ve crisscrossed the planet making images. Building a massive cache of data to process and sculpt into new short films and photographic essays.

We are moving strongly back to our roots in photojournalism.

Whether it’s long form essays for Sports Illustrated, music videos, documentary films on a wide variety of stories we think need to be told, or iBooks with our partners Tr@ed Media – makers of amazing educational material – the year has been full of good fun and good work.

This week has been a time for reflection and planning. Seasonal music bouncing off the walls, slicing through air laced with the enchanting aromas of brownies and strong espresso, mixed with of laughter.

Early in the new year, we will be releasing a bunch of new work — some collaborative efforts with our friends, as well as new content on our Websites, and a group of new films.

The creative life is a good one. I hope you’ll keep watching our journey.

After I posted my list of favorite books of the year, we got a bunch of emails asking for end of year gear buying advice.
This is a short list but it’s all stuff we use constantly and love.

Anything from RED.com

And if you are shopping for me… http://www.freeflysystems.com/products/moviM10.php

It’s that time.

Finishing projects. Culling through the million or two images produced through the year.

Our office is tech heavy.  Raids and computers. Printers. Devices of all stripes everywhere.

Last night an old friend moved out. Replaced by innovation and technology.

When I arrived in Florida, fresh out of the University of Kansas School of Journalism, things worked a little different in the photo world.  I shot film, actual strips of celluloid. I processed it in wet chemicals, examined it with a loupe, and made prints.

One of the great presents of my life showed up just before Christmas my first winter in Miami.  A giant blue industrial light table with a three foot by three viewing surface. Magnificent.

The elf that left it on my porch didn’t try to get it through the front door.  I’m still not entirely sure how we managed to get it inside unscathed, but where there’s a will there’s a way.

Millions of images crossed that viewing platform, carrying with them my vision, my life’s work.  Tri-X and Kodachrome, those stalwart staples of photojournalism.

Images bound for the front pages of the world’s newspapers and magazines — ah yes print, that ancient medium which served so many for so well for so long, and which contrary to apparent popular belief is going strong all over the planet.

No piece of furniture, save the ancient family rocking chair, held my attention for so long or for so well.

A decade ago digital photography took over completely in my office. Scanners, card readers and computer screens replaced the old loupes and light boxes.

I still have millions of negatives and transparencies stored neatly in huge black filing cabinets, but as I have transferred the most important of them digitally, I have pulled open those creaking drawers less and less often.

Finally this year, I decided painfully I needed the space for yet another bank of hard drives. Even though I seldom hunched over the piles of film evaluating for the first cogent time their value, and by fiat my success or failure at communicating the moment or story through them, it was still very tough to say goodbye. So much emotion and work tied to that surface.

Editing then was different.  It was more solitary.  I looked at the film.  Thinking strictly about what it said or didn’t.  It was a tactile process. And the light box didn’t talk, not like my computer screen does, always beckoning and seducing with sounds, and lights, and distractions.

But it’s gone, those who work with me celebrating the freed up space.

Silly as it sounds, I’m glad it’s found a new home with young artists, working in an older medium who will enjoy the virtues of a slower pace of visualization and a sturdy place to support their creations.

Time to get back to the computers and the edit.  Now, where to put my coffee cup?

Football. The South. An American tradition.

I grew up in Nebraska where football was king.

In undergraduate school at Arizona State, we had a big, powerful program — during my time there, we were always among the nation’s best.

But then I moved to the South, and I found the mother lode.

Before Friday Night Lights was a thing. Before the SEC ruled the land with seven straight BCS Championship wins. Before 39 cable channels were devoted to the sport.

Before all of that. Every small Southern town, seemingly every conversation not specifically related to religion or food, and every childhood and young adult sports fantasy, all revolved around a powerful high school football tradition.

It’s then, it’s now, and it always will be much more than a game. It’s pride in community and hard work. It’s the culture.

Working for Sports Illustrated as a staff photographer, I’ve spent a lot of time on the sidelines of football games of every stripe. SI through the years has covered the game better than anyone. I’m not sure that any of the images shot close to the action in stadiums big and small said as much about how I think of a life around football than this image, made with a Nikon P7800, when I dropped my 12-year-old daughter off at her school yesterday morning.

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