I thought I’d take a different approach to my annual year in review post. I thought I’d conduct an After Action Review (AAR). If you aren’t familiar with it, An After action review (AAR) is a structured review or debriefing process for analyzing what happened, why it happened, and how it can be done better by the participants and those responsible for the project or event (that would be me). It is a retrospective tool designed to improve process and outcomes. At work we conduct AARs regularly after each software release in an effort to improve the process going forward.
So if you are interested in reading about my successes and failures this year, please read on. If you are just here for the photographs, feel free to scroll through. Either way, thanks for stopping by!
What was supposed to happen?
Not necessarily in order:
- Produce and publish weekly (FB, IG and Blog) a new black and white image.
- Go on NXNW trip (at least)
- Photograph family more
- Print more of my images
- Blog more
What actually happened?
- Weekly BW: I had good intentions. In the first few weeks of the year I set aside some time for me and my camera. I’d stop somewhere on the way home from work, go for a short photo walk after getting home, or block out an hour or two on the weekend. But I couldn’t — or didn’t — sustain it. Five or six weeks into the New Year I started to get lazy and let it slip away.
- NXNW (at least): The annual NXNW trip is the photography highlight of the year. Barring an unforseen tragedy, I was already committed to the trip, so it was a foregone conclusion that I would make it. This year destination was Nova Scotia / Prince Edward Island and, because fellow NXNW member Steven Perlmutter and I lived closest to the Nova Scotia, it was on us to plan the trip. It was the highlight of the year. And there was more. I also broke away to the Pittsburgh area for some Urbex shooting with friends, Brook Ward and Mike Criswell.
- Photograph family more: If by “family” you limit the scope to our two grandsons, then I can check the box on this. Whenever they visit, or we visit them, they are my main focus (pun intended).
- Print more of my images: This one is a complete fail. I promised myself this past summer, that by Christmas I would have a book (blurb or similar) printed up of some of my favorite images from the year. Also, that I would have prints of the grandkids made up for my wife Jean and me, as well as my son and his wife. We are less than a week from Christmas and neither are done. Late Christmas gifts coming.
- Blog More: I blogged less. In fact, this is my first blog post since early September.
What did we learn?
By “we” I mean “I”… What did I learn.
Some of my failures were self-inflicted. They were the lack of planning on my part. There is no excuse for not printing images. Time just got away from me. Same for Blog posts. No excuse. It was a lack of motivation and time management. Completely self inflicted. The standout failure is the weekly BW image. I had good intentions going into it, but deep down, I knew I was setting myself up for failure.
Overall I’m happy with my successes, but there is room for improvement. Specifically, more family photos are always a good idea!
Who needs to know?
Communication is a key part of the AAR process. It speaks to both credit and accountability. Things you did well, you need to keep doing. Things that you need to change, well… you need to change. In both cases communicating the takeaways to stakeholders is the way to go
In this case, the key stakeholder is me. But since I am making it public, you are also a stakeholder.
So with 2019 in the books, what is next?
2020 will bring more of the same, and some things different.
I won’t try to commit to a weekly goal of any kind, but I will commit printing my images. In fact, I will double up on that — I have to back-fill 2019 images as well as print 2020’s images.
I have some travel planned, including a trip to New Orleans for a wedding. We plan to extend that by a few days for purely photographic reasons.
I HOPE to make the 2020 NXNW trip (destination undetermined), but a second wedding may put that in jeopardy.
Something different? Well, I have been working on a new project that I hope will extend into 2020 and beyond. But I can’t talk about it until after Christmas.
So until then, here is a photo of Brennan eating an apple: