by ag

I don’t often find myself quoting Queen Elizabeth, but I think we can all agree that 2020 was an annus horribilis, a phrase the queen used in 1992 to describe a year filled with her children’s marital troubles and scandals, plus other unfortunate events afflicting the royal family. If 1992 and 2020 were in a race to the bottom though, we know who the winner would be: No need to torture ourselves with the details.

Photographically speaking, I began 2020 with an iPhone 7 as my only camera. It’s enabled me to continue with my photography but not as an altogether happy camper: To start with, any focal length other than wide-angle is useless; second, subtle gradations in skin tones become much more pronounced and unnatural looking; third, I have no control over lens opening/shutter speed combinations; fourth, without an eye-level viewfinder I miss small but important details within the frame; and fifth, holding a smart phone is just not the same as taking pictures with an SLR. Until a camera comes out that satisfies all my specs, or the price comes down on ones that come close, it’s something I’m making my peace with.

On the plus side, the phone makes taking a selfie a snap, a feature I’ve used several times to parody a popular culture obsessed with youth, beauty, and fun. See: tinyurl.com/5b9dponk and tinyurl.com/3cwo4zyo. I’m pleased to report that one image from the latter series, Man with Some Issues, was recently accepted for the Springfield Museums’ “This Is Us: Regional Portraiture Today” exhibit running from February 6–May 2, 2021.

Much to my surprise I was able to publish my first book, If Roses Were the Only Flower, during the summer. Not long afterward, I began work on a second, much bigger one featuring mashups from the last 5 years. Hopefully, this 132-page magnum opus will be at the printers in February. Stay tuned for the official announcement!

Near the end of last year’s update, I announced that I had reluctantly joined Instagram, and lamented the fact that I hadn’t seen any photographers on it whose work I liked. Clearly, I spoke too soon and wish I could take it all back — the app has introduced me to a new group of artists whose images are a true delight. In the course of twelve months, I’ve gained a small — make that tiny — number of followers and can only marvel at those who have hundreds or thousands before posting any pictures. For me, it’s a path I won’t be taking anytime soon: too much work, too much self-promotion, too much inanity. Perhaps I’ll win an award though for having the smallest following despite posting regularly :)

Last year, I occasionally used this platform to rant about our (thankfully) former president, eg., tinyurl.com/1ne5gvvw; tinyurl.com/175b0uy4; and tinyurl.com/436llfc5. Once Joe Biden was sworn in as president, I thought we could all breathe a sigh of relief, and Pixetera could now return to photography as its primary focus (forgive the pun). Biden has certainly shown, in two short weeks, what good government looks like, but unfortunately, he also faces an opposition party that is opening its welcoming arms to certified nut cases, conspiracy theorists and outright liars, hypocrites, and ignoramuses who feed the flames of militant right-wing extremism. Its leadership has yet to show any interest in addressing the pandemic, global warming, economic and social injustice, or other pressing problems that plague our country. The only things on the GOP agenda appear to be taking back power in 2022 and further suppressing the vote. Sadly, this is not a party that has anything positive to contribute to a nation in crisis. More urgently, it is a party hell bent on destroying its democratic foundation.*

I wish then that I could be hopeful about the coming year, but one month in, it feels like a crapshoot.


*Please spare me the spurious counter charge that “radical” Democrats want to “take away our freedoms” by mandating scientifically recommended practices during a deadly pandemic, confiscating our guns, and pressing for an anti-Christian/socialist/communist takeover of government. None of that is remotely true or valid; repeating ad nauseam the Big Lie that the presidential election was stolen, simply because your candidate lost, is a whole other order of dangerous demagoguery.