• Justin Key

Year in Review: 2018

Here we are again. Is that starting to feel cliche? This happens every twelve months and yet when it’s time to buy a new calendar all we do is reflect on how quick the previous year flew by. The unfortunate reality is every year lasts for roughly the same amount of time (and for all you sticklers out there I will add) with the exception of a leap year. What makes the passing of the prior year more or less bitter comes down to how we did personally. If you feel like the year wasn't as productive as you'd hoped it probably flew by, whereas if you kicked ass it may not be so bittersweet preparing for the New Year party tonight.


I’ve developed a new way of classifying my years. If you read my work at the beginning of 2018 you know I’m not big on resolutions. I find them to be too strict. Rather than going cold turkey, I prefer to ween myself off the bad habits by setting guidelines to improve on. So when I look back I’m searching for signs of progress that I can continue to build upon this year. As I reflect on 2018 it did go quick because I felt like I left a lot of improvement on the field but it wasn’t too fast because I saw a lot of growth overall. When that ball finally drops on 2018 what really matters isn’t that your exercise three times a week resolution flew out the window by January 10th. If your goal was to be healthier and you found yourself working out more often than in 2017, I’ll cheers to that.


2018 was my “Year to do Better” and I did do better. I wanted to improve my editing efficiency and I believe I did. I wanted to find a better work-life balance and start a healthier lifestyle and I believe I did. I made a point to launch The Long Shutter Project, create hand made framing options, and get my work in front of people all of which happened. As I examine my “Year to do Better” I did do a lot better overall.

There was some additional room for improvement of course. While I made a point to catch up on editing, after all the travels of 2018 I still have a backlog of trips to edit. I wanted to write more but got so distracted during the summer months I was getting “are you still there?” emails from my blogging service. I found multiple ways to show my work but gave up on contests and looking for gallery shows to apply to. My biggest disappointment was seeing incredible benefits with the addition of regular exercise and meditation to my schedule and then abandoning it.


Those letdowns didn’t ruin my year though. While I’m not caught up on editing, I did get a lot of really old stuff off my computer and now have the ability to work on more recent travels. Although I didn't find a bunch of places to show my work, I did find one really good location that opened doors for me. While I gave up my meditation practice and workout schedule I saw the positive effects and am making a point to incorporate it into 2019. It’s all about looking at the year with a glass half full mentality. So as you reminisce, focus on the good but recognize the bad and learn from it, and don’t allow it to outweigh the good.


The good things from 2018 are exponentially greater than my bad. I upgraded my equipment with the purchase of a new full-frame body and a wide-angle lens. I made adjustments to my website which allowed me to concentrate on editing. I built a festival booth and participated in two art festivals. I showed in a gallery in Denver’s Santa Fe Art District throughout the year and sold a number of pieces. I traveled to four new countries and four new states. I strengthened my portfolio with a number of additions to my website. I’m also considerably more confident in myself and my work than I was a year ago which is giving me a great outlook for 2019.


I think that’s what we should all be striving for when January 1st arrives. We don’t need to become a new person overnight, just be a better version of yourself by the time 2019 comes to a close. Did I do better in 2018? Yes, but I am far from being my best self. This year saw improvement that has the confidence ball rolling into 2019, a year I expect even more progress to be made. For me, it’s all about baby steps. The baby steps I made last year are propelling me into 2019. The next twelve months are still going to fly by but if you do it right when 2020 arrives, you won’t be looking back on the year that was, you’ll be looking forward to the year ahead.

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© Justin Key Photography