The Derrick and News-Herald employs only one staff photographer, me. This was my 20th year as a staff photographer at small community based newspapers. My third year anniversary, at this newspaper, will take place in the middle of March of this year. I took over for the very talented and dedicated journalist Jerry Sowden in hopes of carrying on the legacy he built of the Derrick and News-Herald of being a top-notch visual newspaper recognized for its excellence.

As the only staffer it falls on me to each day be responsible for the front page photography. Each day, a good first impression of our product by our readers depends, in part, on whether or not I succeeded the day before in making a compelling storytelling image. Not everyday is a success unfortunately, but I do my best to minimize those days where my work isn't up to my own pretty rigid standards.

Some days the front page picture isn't my choice, we have editors who have to make the decision what images translate the story at hand best to our readers. It is impossible for us to agree all the time, but my suggestions are usually taken as I am the visual reporter on the scene of the story getting the first hand impression of the event. And our news editors are pretty savvy about what works and doesn't.

This collection of images are what struck me as my favorite pictures of the year. Not all are chosen for their exemplary photographic quality. Some are my favorites because of the story of how I got the image. I work hard to achieve strong images with layers of meaning and sometimes it takes quite a bit of time to find that image. Other times it comes fast as if it was given as a gift to me. Sometimes I don't even know what I've captured until i look at the back of the camera or call the image up on the computer. Instinctual decision making sometimes yields subtleties that weren't expected or even seen when i pressed the shutter.

Other times I feel a picture is just simply given to me. In front of my lens the elements come together and I am just a vehicle there to push a button.

What I always look for is the moment in which the image takes on a deeper meaning that words cannot describe. Sometimes its in peak action in sports, sometimes its a subtle touch of a son's hand on an emotional mom's shoulder. Sometimes its a guy tossing a rock into a river knowing it might very well be his last as he battles cancer.

Sometimes it just life, a kid spitting water while playing in the lake, a man with a funky hat mowing his lawn with an old timey push mower, Or sometimes it's man of God simply out for a walk.

I try my best not to impose my own thoughts on the subjects of my photographs, though I suppose its impossible not to somewhat. I want their nature, their story, their essence to be told as it is lived whether I am was there or not to record it. That is what I want to appear in my photographs.

In 2017 I met some incredible people and witnessed some incredible things. It wasn't a year without tragedy or sad stories, but it was a year where i met some up-lifting people with their own little beautiful lives reflected in the things they were doing when I met them. A young boy out shoveling snow or a woman sitting in her car unsure what to do as she watched firefighters trying to save her house.

I took thousands of images and could've shown a couple hundred images that all have a story. I wanted to choose just a handful to show, but have settled on these 78 photographs as my favorites of 2017. Some will move you and some will make you wonder why they are there in this collection. Anther person will be moved by a different set of these. That is what makes life and trying to document it so interesting to me.

Thank you for taking a look at my reflections from 2017. Most captions are stream of consciousness recollections of the image and how I came to make them.