I only wrote one blog post this year about my summer of rereading. This does not paint the picture of how insane this year was. I don’t even know where to start. Should I go by months in chronological order? By the size of the events? How would I even measure and compare these? Well, one stands out.
I bought an apartment in July. Hashtag adulting. It’s fair to say this kind of event changes anyone’s life. But no one tells you how much stress this would induce. Well, maybe they do, but you don’t fully understand. 😅 It’s probably similar to how people without kids can’t understand what kind of havoc having a child brings to your life. Is what people with kids tell me. 😬
The place was old and pretty nice already but the bathroom needed to be reworked. Badly. So renovations were going on the whole time from the moment I bought it and are still going. It already took twice as long as I planned it would take even though I took this fact into account when planning. Hofstadter, am I right? It’s still not where I would like it to be but now I’m getting close. I think. At least the shower works and it is awesome. 🚿
If you follow my work for a while you probably know that I used to be an event photographer and a photo blogger. When that was a thing. All the posts are still online, but they are in Slovene.
Since I ended that “career” the vast majority of photography I did was with my iPhone1 and publishing on Instagram. When the phone cameras were bad I compensated with Instagram borders and filters. Then they gradually became better so I slowly moved from that to editing with Instagram tools which also improved over the years.
But in February I discovered Halide2 that elevates the iPhone’s camera with many advanced features and allows you to shoot raw. Through that app I then got introduced to Darkroom. And the first time in my life, I started actually editing pictures.
You see, when you’re an event photographer, the only thing that matters is speed - how soon are the photos published from when they were taken. And there are lots of them. So you optimize the workflow for fast selection. Being able to narrow down from literally thousands of photos to at most 50 in as short of a time as possible is the skill you try to level up as high as you can. The post-processing is mostly cropping, levels, and a slight vibrance boost.
But editing one photo and focusing on it alone was something I never did. This was an entirely new thing I wanted to learn. In about a month I outgrew the dark side and switched to Lightroom. Now, this was a whole new beast. I’m still trying to tame it, but I’m getting better and better at it. I know this because when I look back at the edits I made a couple of weeks or months ago, I see how bad they are3 and what I would do differently now.
I also bought 2 new gadgets that further elevated my game. The first was Leica Q2. I planned to go on an SCA trip to Burundi that was unfortunately canceled later. On that trip, I wanted to take “real” pictures and not just phone ones. But I didn’t want to bring my old and faithful Canon 5D II DSLR because it is too heavy to carry around all day and because it looks like wearing a Please rob me! sign.
I was looking for something compact and powerful and went from Canon EOS R, to Sony α7, to Fujifilm X-Pro2. Read a lot, watched a ton of YouTube videos, and heard Leica Q mentioned a lot. I have always wanted a Leica, but it’s like wanting a Ferrari. You know you don’t need it, you know you can’t afford it, but you can’t help lusting after it. So I googled that damn Q. And found out that Q2 just came out. Like in the exact week I was doing my research. Everyone seemed to love the Q and the early reviews of Q2 were basically: everything is either the same or even better.
It’s the nicest piece of photo and/or tech gear I’ve ever owned. Attention to detail, build quality, user experience, the fantastic Summilux 28/1.7 lens,… It’s stunning. I didn’t have the chance to use it for what I originally bought it for, but I sure am happy with the purchase and I get giddy with joy every time I get to use it. 🥰
The second, more recent, addition to my photo game was DJI Mavic Mini. I’ve always wanted to have a drone but I simply could not justify buying it. They’re too expensive and too limited in their use. Knowing myself I had a hunch I’d get it, play with it for a week, then put it on a shelf for it to collect dust. But when the Mavic Mini came out the price/performance was just right for me. And I love it. I use it way more than I thought I would and am always looking for an excuse to bring it with me.
Another big chapter of my life started in 2018 when I published the first episode of Parallel Passion. I fell in love with podcasting. This year I published 18 episodes and loved recording and editing every single one of them.
This last part was the biggest surprise for me starting a podcast. I’ve always loathed video editing and I thought it would be the same with audio. But it’s a completely different animal. I find it way more creative, rewarding, and much easier to do. Timing is everything and in audio-only form, where you have every speaker on their own track, it’s very easy to manipulate. For example: moving laughter half a second backward has a drastic effect on how the sentence is perceived.
I’ve been on a short hiatus because of the apartment situation, but I can’t wait to get back to recording interviews. I knew that software developers are amazing people, but the more I get to interview, the more blown away I am by the diversity and intensity of the hobbies we have.
I also had a pleasure to be a guest on some podcasts. First on Pragmatic, where we talked a lot about coffee, specifically espresso. I still can’t believe John invited me to be a guest on his show. Amongst his recent guests were Casey Liss, John Siracusa, Merlin Mann, and Jason Snell. How I belong in this group is beyond me. 🤯
The last one I did was the Suburban Folk podcast. If you like my podcast and wanted for someone to turn the tables and interview me about my hobbies - this is the episode you should listen to.
I ran a lot this year. 3,237 kilometers to be precise. Which puts the total since June 2014 (when I started running) at 12,023km. But it’s not just the distance, it’s also the kind of runs I did.
I ran much more on trails than in previous years and I loved it. It more or less started with Salomon Running Academy where we got together for a group trail run in a nice location on preset courses. It was so enjoyable to run in nature with like-minded people and not caring about speed, results, or anything really. Just pure enjoyment.
I still ran the (now traditional for me) Ljubljana Marathon. This was the first year that I ran slower than the year before. I felt great at the start and when the race began I was flying. At around 25km my stomach started acting up so I slowed down a bit. But only 2km later my energy was gone. Just like that. I started walking. As soon as I started running again, my heart rate hit 185, and I couldn’t keep it down. So I walked, ran, walked again. Then at around 32km, I got a massive cramp in my upper right quadriceps. I never had cramps before so I didn’t know what to do. I couldn’t walk, I couldn’t run. I tried everything: massaging, stretching, rubbing,… but nothing worked. Eventually, it became tolerable so I could wobble my way to the next aid station, drink some salt and poof, the cramp was gone. I continued my walk/run routine for the rest of the race, still struggling with extremely high heart rate. The end result of 3:49:18 was much slower than expected - and full 15 min slower than last year. There’s always next year! 😆️
Music was always a big part of my life. It was probably the reason I got into event photography in the first place. But ever since I left that career behind, I’ve also severely decreased the number of concerts, parties, and festivals I went to. Once you go to an event with a PRESS pass it’s hard to go back to being a “normal attendee”.
But this year I went to the Exit festival again. I was a photographer there 2009-2012 but this time I went as a civilian. After 7 years. The trees on top of Dance Arena have grown, but other than that things mostly stayed the same. Amazing venue, amazing people, amazing experience. I loved every second of it. Due to some connections, I made in those 4 years, I was even given the opportunity to go on the DA stage again. Nothing like being in front and on top of thousands of people all enjoying the music while the sun is rising.
I wrote about my all-time favorite books in the previous post so I won’t go into how and when I read/listen here. Goodreads tells me I read 29 books this year and a couple of them really stand out so I have to mention them.
Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World by Jack Weatherford was completely mind-blowing. This book should be a required reading since we4 have a completely distorted image of Genghis and the Mongols. They were so far ahead of their time it’s hard to believe. Abolishing torture, universal religious freedom, standardization of law, equality of nationalities,… While we were burning witches they had open debates (with lots of alcohol) amongst Christians, Muslims, and Buddhists. 🤯
Permanent Record by Edward Snowden is pretty much what you’d expect it to be - fantastic. He tells his story and what led him to leak what he leaked. I’ve run much longer runs because I didn’t want the book listening to end. The world is in a better place because of him, but we’re still far off from good. The book also includes this gem:
Ultimately, saying that you don’t care about privacy because you have nothing to hide is no different from saying you don’t care about freedom of speech because you have nothing to say.
Educated: A Memoir by Tara Westover is unlike anything I’ve read before. How these kinds of stories are happening in our timeline inside a 1st world country is beyond my understanding. It goes to show how incredibly dangerous it is to have no/poor education, how susceptible you are to lies and conspiracies, and mostly how hard it is for children to escape that. Great book, great story, greatly written. My friend Alja put it best:
Hard to read, yet even harder to put down.
I still follow and practice Stoicism as much as I can. I’m reading more books, thinking about it, and discussing it deeply with everyone who shows even a hint of enthusiasm/curiosity. 😅️
But most importantly, I’ve kept up my journaling practice. I still do it every day: when I wake up and before I go to sleep. For 491 days in a row. To say it was life-altering would be an understatement. I truly believe I became a better person and I’ve never felt this happy and fulfilled with life. Of course, there are bad days. Everyone has those. But the average life satisfaction level is trending up and has been for quite a while.
One of my favorite YouTubers, Kurzgesagt, recently made a video on why you should keep a gratitude journal. I highly recommend you watch it and then start writing that journal. This is the kind of New Year’s resolution you should make. And if you want to go beyond gratitude alone I can highly recommend the Five minute journal which is what I follow. You can do it in any notebook but if you want to do it in digital form Day One is still my app of choice.
It’s been a wonderful year and what an amazing decade. At the end of 2009, I just started working as a programmer5, blogging and event photography was basically my entire world6, I did not drink coffee, and I was still living with my parents. But it was the first year I went to the Exit festival. 🤔️
Thanks for reading all this. And I’m not saying that because I was talking about gratitude a minute ago, but I really mean it. 😄️ There’s no reason anyone should care about my life, but you do, and that means a lot to me! 🤗️
Happy New Year 2020! 🎆️
3G, 3GS, 4, 4s, 5s, 6s, SE, X, 11 Pro ↩
If you look back at your old work and think it’s bad and can’t believe how you could ever do something like that, be proud! That means you’re learning and growing. You should feel bad when you look back at your work and think it’s awesome and that you couldn’t top it today. That means you’ve peaked. ↩
Europeans / Westerners ↩
More code monkey at the time to be honest ↩