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  • Writer's pictureJustin Key

10 Most Popular Photos of 2019

There's only one way to kick off 2020's 10 lists of 10, with 2019's most popular list, the 10 most popular photos from 2019. That was a lot of doubling up but it's 2020, the year of repetition. This list consists of the 10 most popular photos from 2019. I've taken into account sales numbers, social media statistics and personal interactions and randomly assigned values to each in order to rank these photos. How many likes equals a complement? How many compliments add up to a sale? Does it matter? Let's start the countdown!

10. Great Sands 2

A smooth panorama of the sand dunes in Colorado at dusk.

After adding the "Sands Study" to the Long Shutter Project last spring, I couldn't help but pepper Instagram with photos from that series. While #10 here didn't make the actual series, it was shot on one of the excursions taken for that project. Narrowing the series down to 20 was challenging and a lot of great photos got cut. Had Instagram had their say, this one would have been on the website. Of all the photos posted in 2019, this one received the most likes and kicks off our list as a result.

9. Paradise Beach

A foamy wave rushes the shore on a sunny day in Costa Rica.

Costa Rica was a short trip at the end of 2018 but the little time I had was enough to fall in love with the laid back country. This photo was my last photo posted on Instagram before I went silent for the rest of the year, it was also one of the most popular posts for 2019. I don't know what it is about a foamy tide, maybe the hissing of the bubbles as the waves roll out is like a calming shhhhh that helps me relax deeper, but I love photographing the white froth on the sand.

8. Kauai

Clouds hang over the mountains on Kauai as the sun begins to soak the landscape

I can't pretend like I understand all of the statistics on Instagram, likes, comments, reach, engagement, impressions. They start to feel redundant. But what I do understand is when I look up my top performers in all of those categories, this photo shows up near the top. This photo was taken in Hawaii on the island of Kauai. There was an abundance of locations to capture this view from but of all the ones I found this was my favorite composition. All that's missing is a rainbow.

7. Venice Canal

A reflection of a building down a glass like canal in Venice.

March Madness is my favorite event every year. Last year was the first time I hosted it on both Facebook and Instagram with each platform hosting its own bracket. Only two photos made it to both Final Fours and this shot from Venice won the International Region for both brackets. There were a lot of strong competitors in last year's bracket and this was a cinderella in my eyes that took out some very bright and tropical photos I thought would run away with the competition. Venice was an amazing location to photograph with inspiration down every canal. I'm glad I was able to capture that beauty.

6. Gunnison National Forest

A mountain panorama in Crested Butte in fall with the aspens beginning to turn yellow.

Instagram voted this photo to the finals in 2019. You may also remember seeing this photo on this list last year before it made its March Madness debut. This photo has been extremely popular at shows and festivals which is why it's returning to the list again. This is still one of my favorite locations in Colorado. Right off a trail in Crested Butte, a platform of rock makes for a well-positioned perch to take in the vast mosaic of autumn colors.

5. World Turning

A gravel road runs under a live oak canopy to Wormsloe Plantation in Georgia

This is the first of two photos on this list that were real eye-catchers at the festivals this year. Easily the most popular question I got was "where was this taken?" Positioned in the center of my back wall, framed in my original Jethro molding, the piece had a gravitational pull at the festivals. Half the battle is getting people into the booth and establishing a dialogue and this photo was instrumental in those efforts.

4. Right and Left

An urban landscape photo from the French Quarter in New Orleans.

Another repeat from last year's list, this photo remains the top bin print seller of the bunch. Taken in New Orleans, this photo was a turning point for my work. My photography primarily revolved around nature and landscapes which made adding this shot to my portfolio a difficult decision. Eventually, the photo landed in my print rack on a trial basis and today it's not only the most popular but it expanded my portfolio into cityscapes.

3. Maroon Bells

A cloudy morning reflection of the Maroon Bells over Maroon Lake in Aspen, Colorado

Climbing from #7 last year to #3, the iconic Maroon Bells lands on the list for the second consecutive year. Always a popular bin print, this photo joined the March madness in 2019 and won the Facebook bracket. It was narrowly bounced in round 3 of the Instagram bracket but the fans on Facebook came out in full support of the moody morning at Maroon Lake. While it won't be in this year's bracket, this photo could go for the three-peat next year due to its popularity in the print rack.

2. The Wind Cries Mary

Three aspen trunks tightly positioned in this long vertical composition.

Whenever I saw someone make a beeline for my booth this summer, there was one photo they were rushing to see. "The Wind Cries Mary" is easily my most popular photo of all time but for 2019 it comes in at #2. I still remember the long contemplation over this image and the internal debate about whether it would fit in my gallery. In the end, it was Sarah's definitive push for Mary that persuaded me. Now it serves as my trademark photograph and one that will continue to make this list until the edition sells out.

1. Queen's Bath Reflection

A sunrise over Queen's Bath on the island of Kauai in Hawaii.

This year's most popular photo is the March Madness juggernaut from Kauai. Winning the Instagram bracket by a landslide and finishing as the runner up on Facebook, this photo cleaned house on its way to the finals in both brackets. Even in the group stages, this sunrise over Queen's Bath was the clear favorite. Sometimes you run into an uncooperative sky when you wake up early on vacation and sometimes you are greatly rewarded for an early morning. A two time March Madness finalist and champion, and the #1 most popular photo of 2019.


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