This is a first for me, writing a year-end review of my productive activities and accomplishments. It derives from my practice, initiated in 2011, of faithfully keeping a log of three good things that I made happen each day, all 365 of them.
I’d like to turn this review into an annual ritual, for the same reason that at the end of each month I reread all of my daily good things: as a reminder of what I value most and what I’ve accomplished, whether major or minor advancements.
I share this review with the hope that you may draw some kind of inspiration from it. I know my friend Robert Begley has inspired me with his annual reports that I anticipate reading at this time each year.
In large part, for better or worse, my year was defined by my termination from Aol, about a year after the company awarded me as one of their outstanding employees. Actually, my job as an editor/reporter was eliminated along with hundreds of others when another company bought and restructured Aol’s hyperlocal news sites that employed me for more than three years. I took this development as an opportunity to explore new avenues, a few of which I’ve catalogued below.
Freelancer for Hire
One opportunity afforded me was the ability, while in search of full-time work, to freelance for various media, including Newsday, Long Island Pulse magazine (online), Ultimate Athlete magazine, Long Beach Herald, Long Beach Magazine, and Oyster Bay Guardian.
Among the more interesting and enjoyable feature stories that I covered this year were:
Sharon Robinson, the daughter of baseball great Jackie Robinson, awarding an elementary school student for writing an essay about how he exhibited character traits of her famous father;
A U.S. Army dad who reunited with his unsuspecting daughter at her high school graduation ceremony;
A 67-year-old triathlete/runner who finishes races in less time the more she ages;
How two of Long Island’s longstanding independent book and record stores have managed to survive in our digital age;
A man who cuts master vinyl records at his home studio.
In years past, The Objective Standard (TOS) printed a few of my book reviews. In the fall 2014 edition, the quarterly publication printed my first feature, a six-page Q&A with Donna Hassler, director of Chesterwood, the Massachusetts home of my favorite American sculptor Daniel Chester French.
My other Q&As appeared on TOS’s blog. One of these was an interview with my favorite photographer of New York’s skyline and architecture, Richard Berenholtz, whose is chronicling the construction of the largest residential tower in the Western Hemisphere, 432 Park Avenue in Manhattan. I also talked with Dianne Durante about her part in developing a tour guide app based on her outstanding book Outdoor Monuments of Manhattan.
A few of my favorite TOS blog posts that I wrote this year were:
My Corner of the Digital World
My most ambitious project this year, one that demanded much time and effort, was building this website, Joseph Kellard: Writer & Photographer, which launched in April. Because I’ve decided that I mainly want to write feature stories now, I posted on this site some of my favorite features that I wrote during my previous 14 years working as a journalist for print and digital publications.
My site has many other features, most importantly my photographs of various subjects from New York cityscapes to art to nature, as well as photo and art blogs. A few of my favorite blogs were about my all-day travels through Brooklyn, Queens and Manhattan, an artist who intruded on my “date” with The Vine; and my aesthetic evaluation of the Romeo & Juliet sculpture in Central Park.
Progress in Pixels
Speaking of photography, my photo Piling on Manhattan, an image of New York’s skyline at night with pilings from the East River in the foreground, was selected for display in a group exhibit at the Center for Photographic Art in Huntington (NY) in November. This was my first attempt at entering my work in an exhibit. Moreover, in April, the good people at the Long Island Photo Gallery in Islip (NY) accepted and featured three of my fine art photos for sale on their website and they have since posted a few more. Yet it was through posting my photos on Facebook that I made a few sales.
More importantly, though, I landed a few freelance photography gigs. During the fall I started to photograph events for Molloy College in Rockville Centre (NY), and Guides Who Know, a company that creates travel apps, hired me to take photos of New York scenes and monuments for an upcoming Central Park app.
Throughout the year I attended various photography classes, including a monthly critique meeting with fellow photographers at the aforementioned Center for Photographic Art, where I received useful feedback on my images that helped me develop an even better eye.
My favorite class, though, was a mobile phone workshop at a Sony store in Manhattan, in which we ventured onto the Midtown streets and into Central Park snapping photos with our smartphones. This inspired me to shoot a lot more with my iPhone 5C, download and experiment with new photo filters, and post my best images on my long-dormant Instagram handle: @josephkellard.
My top 11 photos of the year, a few of which are iPhone images, are posted here.
Unfinished Book Business
With much less money to spend on books this year, I decided to finish reading several titles that, for one reason or another, I started to read but left for dead and dust on my bookshelves. A few of these books were:
Anti-Slavery Political Writings, edited by Bradley Thompson;
Lunch Time by Quent Cordair;
How to Be Profitable and Moral by Janna Wioshyen.
A book I started to read in late 2013 and completed this year was Objective Communication, the print version of Leonard Peikoff’s taped lectures of the same title. A few books that I started to read late this year and plan to complete in 2015 are Reporting The Revolutionary War, edited by Todd Andrlik; The Mythic City: Photography of New York by Samuel H. Gottscho, 1925-1940, by Donald Albrecht; and the latest updated and colored edition of Skyscrapers by Judith Dupré. (Incidentally, I attended an interview with Dupré at the Skyscraper Museum in Manhattan in November, when she talked about this book and a another she is still writing about One World Trade Center. She agreed to do an interview with me when the new book is published in 2015.)
Each year I try to read at least one book about writing, journalism, or a related subject. This year I read Write Tight by William Brohaugh (another partially read book that I completed) and The Little Book of Plagiarism by Richard Posner. Another instruction-type book I read was Social Media Marketing for Digital Photographers by Lawrence Chen.
Thanks to old reliable, Amazon.com, I was able to get my hands on and read a gem, Daniel Chester French: An American Sculptor, a pictorial book by Michael Richman first published in the 1970s. Among the new or recently released books I read this year were Amsterdam by Russell Shorto and The Everything Store by Brad Stone.
Last but certainly not least, I must mention the best book I’ve read not only in 2014 but in many years, the groundbreaking The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels by Alex Epstein.
In closing, I'm not ready to reveal the goals that I’ve set for 2015, except one, all-encompassing goal that will go a long way toward helping me reach the others: a return to full-time work.
Happy New Year!