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A year in the life of a tour photographer, documented by a round-up of their work, often looks like several lives, led by several different people. All five previous “Best Of” posts that I’ve shared on my birthday have surprised even me, when I spend the days required to comb through a year’s worth of adventures and opportunities, camera in tow. Feeling certain I must be looking at an entire lifetime of exciting and meaningful experiences that I can’t possibly deserve to have lived, and/or have had the honor of preserving for others. I painfully chisel the selection down to 100 photos that have the most meaning and memory to me, getting more difficult every year.

However, I suppose, this is the part where I acknowledge that last year was “weird/crazy/uncertain/hard/unprecedented” or any number other of descriptors that I’m all too happy to discontinue using as soon as it would be truthful to do so. It was a step back. Not a step backwards– a step back. This tornado of a career – that often has me clinging to my sanity, health, and relationships – for all of it’s magic, requires hard-fought intention (or industry-halting, pandemic intervention) to step back from. To zoom out and allow time to slow down, catch up, change the scenery (or don’t change it for once). I debated my responsibility to “pivot” – to claim my place among the panicky redefinition of who photographers are in a quarantined world. It was a crash-course in embracing what I need right now, and making peace with it.

All that is to say two things:

1. This round-up contains 50 images instead of the usual 100, and that’s okay. A compressed memorial to a year at half-mast, leaving room for growth and rest where it needed to occur.

2. Speaking of leaving room for other things – I tackled a complete overhaul of my music photography website, and actually freaking finished it!! It’s a personal victory for this perfectionist, and I’m so proud to launch it today. Happy birthday to me, indeed! *self high-five*

Though shooting less over the last year, I did still shoot at every desired opportunity. I got to try new things, work with new people, and challenge myself creatively – from live stream BTS , to FaceTime photo shoots, to happy opportunities to create family portraits for friends. And by a bizarre alignment of timing – which seems to defy the implications of everything I’ve unpacked in this note – there are still a significant amount of tour photos here. After my 33rd birthday last year (consisting of a day off in the English countryside, and a two-mile walk in the freezing wet cold, to a middle-of-nowhere pub with my tour pals), my time with X Ambassadors on our international tour continued until the last possible moment in mid-March of 2020. We spent those weeks blasting around the UK and Europe, existing inside of a live music experience that we would not have again for a long time.

In less that one month from now, I will have been off tour for an entire year- the first time ever since my initial run, seven years ago, in 2013. The much needed breather hasn’t been the worst, but there is a void for myself and all of my touring pals. We can’t wait to have shows back (safely). They are a part of us. In the meantime, if you’d like to support this amazing industry of workers, check out MusiCares, Sweet Relief, #WeMakeEvents, and others. They accept donations that go to directly support the out-of-work music gig economy. NIVA supports the local venue scene across the US. If you can, continue purchasing merch and livestream tickets from your favorites artists. And finally, I’m humbled by those who have visited my print shop, AND my lil’ greeting card brand: Whatever Forever Press.

34 today. Thank you for supporting me, working with me, and following along! And If you care to be nostalgic with me, the previous posts live here:
Best of 32 | Best of 31 | Best of 30 | Best of 29 | Best of 28 | Best of 27

Anna (Lee is my last name)

Instagram: @annaleemedia
Twitter: @annaleemedia
Facebook: Anna Lee Photography
Clubhouse: @annaleemedia

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