This is a tradition that started in late 2015, a careful curation of photographs that stood out both individually and as a cohesive unit. As the years progressed, so did our eye for micro- and macro- detail. Images were cast aside in favour of others that complemented another, such that the final dozen images chosen for our annual calendar offering had an even distribution of style, colour, dynamism, species, and much more.
Over the years we have aligned with certain themes, being primarily a bird photographer there isn't much leeway in terms of species - however, some of you would remember a Herpetology of T&T calendar in 2018. In 2020 there was a Safari edition as well. Persisting throughout was what has become our classic birds calendar, a delicately laid out 11"x17" banger of a wall-hanger (as I like to call it) that has decorated homes and establishments in many countries.
While it sounds as if it is wildly popular, the calendars are still quite niche and have been largely purchased by those who already know of my work. For this I am incredibly grateful. As the world gets tugged backward to a pre-covid level of hyperactivity, less people have the time to spend learning about different things online - it's also a function of "zoom fatigue" combined with the evolution of the social media algorithms. This has, in a sense, encouraged me to publicly share only what is required to maintain a sense of congruency of tonality to my social media feed. To avoid a lengthy explanation, let's just say that this has led to a great number of images I previously would have tossed into the abyss of Instagram and Facebook for a couple hours of adulation being (unintentionally) kept under wraps.
This was glaring when we made our selection for next year's calendar, almost half of the images were never previously shared on any medium.
While technically I shared some of the individuals themselves before, the precise frames, such as September's Red-breasted Meadowlark (below) remain up the proverbial sleeve. The images in the calendars are all printed square - still different from the full frame product:
The same goes for this frame of a Bay-headed Tanager, pausing while feeding on the flowers of the underappreciated cecropia or Bois Canot. This image is as much about the plant and background as it is about the bird. On the verdant northern slopes of Trinidad's Northern Range, greenery fades into the blue of the Caribbean Sea - this is reflected in the gradient of the background here. For me, the bird with a full mouth is the cherry on top - completely intentional visual representation!
Only this week I shared this Southern Rough-winged Swallow (above) and a square crop of this White-cheeked Pintail (below) to my socials. If you follow me there and didn't see them, blame the algorithm!
All images have at least one story that leads up to their creation. I was leading a photography workshop early 2022, only a few whirlwind days in some of the best locations on Trinidad. On the last morning, they packed their bags, we said our goodbyes - and they left. Probably within a half hour of their departure, a resplendent male Collared Trogon popped up so close to me that I had to step back a bit. He sat cooperatively for about five minutes quizzically inspecting me, and then flew off. This was a species they were hoping for but it never fell into place until after they left. The unpredictability of nature!
To see a male Tufted Coquette is one of the holy grail experiences for any birder. On another photography workshop this year, I was sensing a bit of disappointment brewing in the hearts of my clients. It was our last night together, and we were set for an early morning departure to a wetland in search of some other birds. I left the option open to make one last try for the Tufted Coquette in the garden - which they readily accepted. This remains one of the best decisions in the history of decision making. When I saw this male sit briefly in front of a rich palate of flowers, there was not a shred of doubt that this was exactly where we were supposed to be. If you look closely, you can see the sun just peeking over the horizon in his eye!
I trust that you have enjoyed this selection of previously unreleased images - they represent my own growth as a photographer pushing the boundaries of technology and creative vision to better represent the absolute magic which permeates the natural world.
The other images in the calendar are by no means less special - but they have already been made public. The calendars have already been printed and are available at Paper Based Bookshop on Trinidad, and Shore Things Cafe on Tobago. I still have a few - if you'd like to order them from me (especially if you don't live in T&T) you can access the order form here.
Here's hoping that this is not my final post on this blog for the year, but if it is - let me take this opportunity to wish you all the best for 2023, thank you for reading, thank you for being on this journey with me, and thank you for simply being.