This is one of my favorite times of the year, when the days wind down, and we reflect.

Poet, Holly Wren Spaulding, is counting down some of her favorite moments of 2017 on Instagram.

Contemplative photographer, Kim Manley Ort, has chosen her favorite images, 12 for 2017.

The creative community of women at Hello There, Friend shared their manifesto, as a means of helping us to step away from the many voices shouting at us about resolutions and achievements and plans for success and set our own course.

I thought I might join in by selecting some of my favorite photographs from the year . . . and then I could not.  It’s hard for me to choose favorite pictures because my favorite is always the one I’ve just taken, or more likely, the one I am just about to take. When I look back over the pictures for the year, I recall for each picture . . .  not only where I was, but how I felt. I am transported to moments where time seemed to stand still, moments of natural beauty, crushing insecurity, deep peace, heart-racing anxiety, and lasting connection. My photographs feel like my children. They are all my favorites.  All held close with abiding affection.

Still it’s worth consideration – this giving weight and value to what we make and do. It’s not a ranking or a score or a blue ribbon that’s needed, but rather a reckoning.

Just this week, I met with fellow photographer Fritzi Newton. Even though we live in the same community, we became friends by way Instagram. Through our pictures, we could see that we share common interests and often travel the same paths. Fritzi invited me to join her for tea downtown and we didn’t stop talking for the entire two-hour visit. I’ve longed for a friend to share this photography passion with, and it felt as though the dam broke as I unleashed the stored questions and ponderings of my heart to her.

Fritzi shared her philosophy of photography with me. She seeks beauty in everything and the camera helps her to see everything as beautiful. When she talks about making portraits of women, she acknowledges that women are sometimes concerned about perceived flaws. She aims to make pictures that help them see their beauty – from the inside out. She has a way of making people feel comfortable and accepted, and this is her gift. She snapped a few candid pictures of me, and they make me so happy, because I look on the outside just as I feel on the inside. I don’t look self-conscious or anxious or uncomfortable. I look joyful, and maybe I needed to be reminded of this.

photo courtesy of  Fritzi Newton

photo courtesy of Fritzi Newton

When I think of my own philosophy of photography, I would say that I am most drawn to subjects that are both beautiful and broken. My friend Joni gave me a bag of treasures for Christmas and the most precious offering was this pottery bowl she made back in 1981. I don’t know much about the criteria for successful pottery, but I’m pretty sure this bowl didn’t meet any of them. It’s a bit lopsided. The colorful glaze coats the inside but drips along the outer edge. The bottom looks to be burnt. And still, I love it. There is something about the imperfection . . . her devotion to keep the bowl despite its flaws . . . her understanding that the bowl would mean something to me . . .

Surely, my favorites are those that are both beautiful and broken.

And those are easy images to see and make, because they are everywhere.