A Photographer's Top Ten for 2012

*Thanks to the amazing Kinsley Wong for our annual family photo!

Ah…2013 – let’s cheer for the New Year! It’s time once again for the annual renewal of resolutions. Or as some people are now calling, “Setting of Intentions.” Well, I’ve got my resolutions in mind, but instead of boring you with that, here is my TOP TEN OF THE YEAR. Yay for lists!

#1 Education

Let me start with a few things I’m so proud of this year — and I apologize in advance if it’s sounds a little bit like horn-tooting — but hey, I’m happy!

So, this year I enrolled at the UC Berkeley Extension campus in San Francisco to take up a course in Multimedia. I have been playing with the idea of offering photography fusion multimedia pieces and this was a great place to renew my skills. I loved the class and (proudly) got an A. You can see my finished project here:

Arthur + Tony {The Beloved Experience} from Auey Santos on Vimeo.


#2 Beloved Photography and Getting Certified

2012 marked the completion of my Beloved photography training. In September, I took my certification and live demo exam in Palm Springs. Amazingly, I passed (yes!), along with a handful of Beloved photographers hailing from around the world.  Many of them were already established awesome photographers such as Ria Mishaal from the U.K, Juliana Wiklund of Sweden, Jacqueline Chang of Singapore. I was so happy to be amongst such talented company. Beloved photography and the experiential genre is fast growing in popularity around the world and it was just an amazing feeling to be part of the pioneering batch! I have been shooting professionally for over 10 years now, but now I feel that I’ve finally found my calling.

My own brand of spreading the word has begun. The Beloved genre of photography was featured this year in the UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center website. I was also invited to speak in front of the Bay Area Professional Videographer’s Association to speak about the Beloved technique. And you can watch my talk (cringe) here and here ! It was my first photography talk ever. I am used to talking but in front of a big crowd can be daunting. So, yes…another first for me.

#3 Personal Project: Flummox and Friends

As a parent of a child on the autistic spectrum, I’ve tried to be an advocate for information and education for the children with special needs. When my friend and fellow Joaquin Miller parent Christa Dahlstrom asked me to be part of her brainchild, a TV show geared towards kids with social difficulties — I just jumped on board! Through the support of a Kickstarter campaign, she created, wrote and produced “Flummox and Friends,” a quirky off-beat original TV show for children. I was just so ecstatic to shoot the stills for the show and be on board as script supervisor. It was such an amazing experience! I revisited my TV production roots and being part of a team with a bigger vision than yourself just lifted me.

You can watch the pilot episode for free, right here!

Flummox and Friends – Pilot: The Party from Flummox and Friends on Vimeo.


#4 Yoga, Mindfulness and The Whole Karmic Enchilada

Lots and lots of asanas this year. Namaste.


#5 My Favorite Session of the Year

I continually marvel at my blessings for doing work that is so meaningful to me. Every face I encounter is etched in mind and captured by my art. It was difficult to chose a favorite wedding or portrait session but one definitely stood out for me. This summer, I photographed Linda and her husband Robert. Their love story inspired me so much that I only have to revisit the images and tears of joy form in my eyes. Linda is a cancer survivor and her quiet strength inspires me tremendously.

I travelled to Mendocino to photograph them in their home. The images below were taken in their healing garden and the banner strung above represent each of their friends who died of cancer. I was incredibly moved to just be there. And as Linda read each name out loud, I sensed their spirit, lifting me to fight whatever personal battle I had. While I cry and laugh (sometimes both) at most of my sessions, this one could only be described as a spiritual experience.

#6 Camera of The Year – My Fuji XPro1

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways!

I vowed to shoot more personal projects this year and had been drawn to street photography. However, lugging my Nikon DSL proves highly impractical at times. So I jumped in and bought a Fuji X-Pro1. I couldn’t be happier with it. It’s the best travel and always-in-purse camera ever. Just google for reviews and specifics, all I need to know is that it works for me.

Here’s an image I took inside the Chelsea Market in New York City in May. No flash, dark as hell. LOVE IT.

#7 Inspiration

On to the fluffy stuff that feeds the spririt —

TV: Downtown Abey, Portlandia, Being Human (BBC), Sherlock (BBC), Come Fly with Me, Parenthood, Mad Men

Music: introduced to Nick Drake, Band of Horses, Blind Pilot; watching Elvis Costelo and New Order live in concert.

Theatre: Book of Mormon, Once

Books: reading Game of Thrones (damn it’s long – still working on it), “Love Does” by Bob Goff and “Anatomy of Love” by Helen Fischer

Photography: Revisiting Man Ray and Discovering Lee Miller

TED Talks.

#8 Friends. Old ones, news ones…and those yet to be met.

#9 My family.

#10. YOU.

Thank you everyone for reading this far. It really was an amazing year. All 525,000 minutes of it.

May 2013 be equally or even more amazing. And amusing. Just say yes to the universe and it will respond  in mysterious and surprising ways.


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