shout-out to the best photographers in the world

so at the end of this incredible year... i wanted to say a little something about how i've gotten to where i am.i joined yahoo's flickr photo community several years ago, but never really thought much of it, until one day in the summer of 2008, when i came to the realization that i knew next to nothing about wedding photography and needed to find other photographers to talk to, to find out what i was doing wrong and how i could improve. about a week before a two-wedding weekend - the only ones i shot that summer - i remembered that flickr had groups, and went to see if i could find one that dealt with wedding photography. found "starting a wedding photography business."
flickr has a unique photo interface... a fluid "stream" of images you can upload, and organize into sets and collections, tag, promote in groups, etc. but flickr's greatest strength by far is its community. i've done my share of deriding online interaction and social media as "fake", but i actually can't imagine my life without my flickr group - yes, mine! without a doubt, the single most important step i took in becoming a professional wedding photographer was joining this flickr group - more important than practicing, than learning software, than buying gear, anything else - because i wouldn't have known what to do in any of those categories without them. (as an internet addict... i actually spend more time on flickr than on facebook, if that tells you anything). they hail from every far-flung corner of the globe. they are full-time photographers and weekend warriors, college students and parents of college students, outliers and brilliant thinkers, writers, travelers, dreamers and realists, believers and atheists, political junkies and apathetics, honest and real and friends. with, of course, one thing (at least) in common... this incredible passion for and talent in photography. they are good people, the best: they support you when you're struggling, cheer you when you're winning, teach you when you're being an idiot, defend you when you're attacked, commiserate when you're venting, pick you up when you're down and knock you down if you need it - tell you what you need to hear, not what you want to hear - share your joys and sorrows that have nothing to do with photography, even. they make you laugh, cry, think twice, think differently, think outside the box. they constantly - every day - inspire me not only with their work, but with their experiences, too. they push boundaries in business and in photographic technique, and they go out of their way to share willingly and generously of their knowledge and expertise. i've heard comments from friends before about "the competition" in my industry... but it's so obvious among us that it almost goes without saying, that we gain immeasurably more by sharing with each other.
i'm lucky enough to be in the d.c./baltimore area, where there is a wealth of absurdly talented photographers anyway; but i've had the opportunity to connect with many of the local members of our group, whom we rely on for second shooting, emergencies and other situations. and sometimes we meet in person and shoot together... our last meetup was in november, in baltimore on a sunny sunday afternoon. we've gained a few new members with moves and such, so i'm truly looking forward to the next meetup in the new year - till then, here are a few shots from our november meetup, where we tried to sneak shots of cute couples at the harbor and played around with freelensing.
SWPB... i love you guys. more than you'll ever know. you are my rockstars. thank you for being who you are and for teaching me... i'm so incredibly proud to be a part of our group, and i can't wait to see how we all grow in the coming year!