A Year in Pictures – 2016 by Zayphoto. “Relentless search for content and sense” – assignments and personal projects.

Firstly, thank you for reading and viewing this blog and recap of the year 2016!  I appreciate your support and interest! If you follow my Facebook page regularly, you’ll recognize some of the images, but there’s plenty of new, never-before-seen content. Each image was chosen with a reason and with hopes that individually and collectively they’ll convey something about Humanity, Diversity, Beauty, and Struggle…

Please comment, engage, share your opinion, pick you favorite(s).

In a hurry? – leave it for now and come back with a coffee and a more relaxed time to look over. I’d prefer not to have you rush over the selection; it took me a whole year to make all these photos, can you give me 10 minutes to enjoy at a relaxed pace?

It’s the second year that I compile the “100 photos from a year” collection. Expect about a third to be dance, about  another third politics & demonstrations, and one third travel, nature, and people. There’s something for everyone, and I hope that this body of work as a whole can give you something to take away.

In this profession (is it still a profession? — I hope so) it’s truly about quality and not quantity. Still, I took roughly 78,000 shots this year, which averages about 214 per day, every day. In reality, it can be a thousand or two in a day and editing until the next shooting event. In a great, busy, five week period—November 1-December 10 only—I shot 24,000 frames. Back in the 90s that was half the shutter expectancy of a film based SLR. For my non-photographer friends and readers, those images also need to be looked at and evaluated. I’m sure some shoot even more, these are just my numbers. But that’s where the ‘distillation,’ selection process begins. Actually it starts with the shot itself. Decent photographers do not ‘spray and pray;’ every click is a decision and timing. The next tier is to select a dozen or two out of a thousand or two. Out of that selection, one or two might land on my fb page or be published otherwise. See the process of elimination? My first run at this year’s already selected photos for this blog resulted in 257 images. That’s way too much for me to ask you to look at, so another 157 was let go of and here it is, the top 100 with some thoughts (in chronological order):

(I’m afraid the numbering is a bit messed up by the program, I apologize for that)


Innovative Works in January with Charlotte Ballet – symmetry, engagement with the viewer, relation of light and shadow; foreground and background…

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    Other than the strong emotions and contrast, I value the diagonal line and negative space

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    What emotions the lifted outstretched body evokes…?

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    Bernie from under the podium with the signature gestures – I photograph conductors too…

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    B.S. – no BS

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    Hillary’s early visit in Charlotte in April – strong center point but also important elements surrounding the focal point being soft, out of focus. A more contemplating expression…


    Misty Copeland teaching a class – as this image follows the one above I recognize a resemblance not just in color but also the above mentioned building elements of the picture


    Beautiful bodies doing amazing things…

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    This is the Sun and the small dot about 3/4 of the way down is planet Mercury crossing

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    beautiful lines – acrobatic and flexible. Would ‘shrimp’ be a good title?

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    Strong contrast, connected. What’s same? What’s different? Do you have a conversation in your head? Is it all about binding and finding ‘the same’ in each other or splitting, separating?

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    Can you spend a little time and wait for the thoughts and discoveries this image may evoke? One might appreciate the brute strength, gravity defying lightness, strong lighting or spiritual sense. Lift Her Up

  10. 160427-sw1410

    Spring Works – an intimate moment in a very public arena. All elements come together, from the top light stream to the vertical lines

  11. 160427-sw1808

    Centrifugal forces – droplets of sweat, like a planetary system…

  12. 160427-sw1907

    Unison, like the X wing planes in Star Wars movies…

  13. 160429-cso32

    For over thirty years I photograph musicians, …what music do you hear?

  14. 160430-swm690

    Much going on in this simply built image… it also feels like it’s shot from stage behind, facing the audience

  15. 160430-swm933

    Feels like a posed image, though it’s performance of course. Each couple gets it’s own light from the top, nine each… – balance, symmetry

  16. 160513-ben115bwmirrorweb

    Usually I like to present an organic image, but I saw good possibilities in this positive/negative presentation. Interestingly the floor color is about the same one way or another

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    starving for light – almost only lit from above. Also great rhythm  and perspective

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    What chemistry, talking about eye contact – strong contrast

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    Early beginnings – nothing like being four or so and perform first time on stage…

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    In the bubble – a performance by The Band Perry

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    Rocking hard, Kimberly Perry

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    Fluid motion – the word photography translated: ‘drawing with light’

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    Unison – flying in formation…

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    Light and Motion, please look at the circles created by the spin on the right…

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    June, a trip to Iceland (until image number 40 below). Green. Life. Hard to ignore ‘the face’ on the left side.

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    Unique flower and angle. The wonders of Nature…

  27. 160608-is1677

    Translation, association, scale… these are pieces of ice on black sand but I also see asteroids flying in front of a starry background

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    coexist – shape & color in perfect harmony

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    Hello Puffin – I like the grey transition in the background and the shape of the green patch. Beautiful colors on this cute fella

  30. 160610-is3736

    a moment in the life…of a mud bubble. Earth-like shape, continent-like rips, as only photography can capture

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    Magnificent creatures – humpback whale up close and personal – and free

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    perfect alignment…

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    Midnight Sun

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    Protective parents…

  35. 160613-is5952

    What could have been arranged more perfectly? Nature, Life, Past, Future…

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    ‘smiling,’ playful companions… – maybe the most evolved inhabitants of this world…

  38. 160730-si2586

    Back in Charlotte, Summer Intensive. Lineup for bows – can I take you closer and more in the middle of the happenings…?

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    Heavens (no photoshop)

  40. 160921-chp238

    Here we are in September and the beginning of the protests…


    ‘Hands up, don’t shoot’

  41. 160924-cp2112

    Charlotte Uprising

  42. 160924-cp2128

    Anonymus – (Guy Fawkes)

  43. 160924-cp2179

    A Movement…


    Black and white…

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  45. 160925-cp2537bw

    Fear? Determination? Compliance, defiance?

  46. 160925-cp2574

    Face off – Not in Service…

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    Several helicopters followed the crowd, providing a constant buzzing and sometimes orientation to where the demonstrators are…

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  49. wballetday


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    Dwight Rhoden, choreographer

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    ‘Adam and Eve’

  53. 161019-fw1565

    Centrifugal No: 2

  54. 161019-fw2081

    Eye – Contact ( This link is to another performance, from another dance company, but please watch this powerful piece: youtube.com/watch?v=7v6tY_u-Mls )

  55. 161019-fw2224

    emerging from the shadows…

  56. 161023-df301

    diorama – projection

  57. 161023-df1389

    Freedom of movement

  58. 161023-df1665

    Motion dynamics

  59. 161027-peterzay456

    She and Her

  60. 161030-peterzay97

    Close your eyes in order to see…

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    a funny moment and expression…

  63. 161101-peterzay129

    Those blue eyes…

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    Light in just the right angle to bring out the blueness in the eyes

  65. 161101-peterzay495

    ‘Surrounded’ – there was a sudden boom in the speaker, the secret service agent in the lower right reached for his weapon…

  66. 161102-peterzay497

    I see this as an iconic Obama look and gesture…

  67. 161102-peterzay536

    The President in Chapel Hill, it was a great day to shoot on assignment and be part of the White House Press Pool and visit with Lili at Carolina

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    November heat in NC – it was a hot day

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    ‘meet and greet’ after the speech… – squared in

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    Civil Rights marcher – John Lewis

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    Hand in hand, John Lewis and Alma Adams

  72. 161104-peterzay92

    Seeing this mom and daughter at the Obama rally gave me so much joy and lasting perspective… Never met them, love them, admire them (notice the other loving mom and daughter in the background)

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    another life from the Obama Charlotte event, as almost always, I wish you’d see a large, high res image, but maybe you can still see the reflection of the flag in his glasses, the red and white stripes

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    Portrait from the attendees of the Obama Charlotte Rally

  75. 161104-peterzay259

    The Obama event in Charlotte was at the PNC Pavilion. Usually there’s nothing behind the press risers, but here we watched a sunset before the event. The Secret Service agent and two police on bikes at the perimeter …

  76. 161104-peterzay320

    As I’ve mentioned at the previous post, by turning around, we could see much more of the audience. It’s not the sign on this image, it’s humanity, our diversity. Look how everybody is different, yet with the same dreams, hopes. All that lives strives for light…

  77. 161104-peterzay407

    Stripped from the crowd, yet showing a supporter with a sign on the big Hillary H stage prop

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    I wanna be him

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    Cute Commander

  80. 161104-peterzay950

    ‘Personal’ – a saying goodbye moment

  81. 161106-peterzay312

    Bon Jovi. I like this wide shot, really puts us on stage, as if I would have been standing in front of him

  82. 161107-peterzay54

    4 year olds for Hillary…

  83. 161111-peterzay723

    A day after the Elections, I started a new assignment, shooting NBA games. I’ve learned much about this sport and how to shoot it. Kemba Walker (15) from the Hornets is great fun, full of energy and ideas. (About a foot shorter than the rest of the players.)

  84. 161113-peterzay32

    Congregation at the Revival & Resiliency after Rejection speech and gathering

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    Reverend Dr. William Barber

  86. 161113-peterzay563

    at the end of the speech Rev Barber engaging the audience. He’s like a big Santa with these kids. Note the composition with the head and the hands

  87. 161126-peterzay1058

    Hornets vs NY Knicks. This image made the top five pick on the Anadolu Agency’s home page

  88. 161130-peterzay92

    and then the protests were back if only for a day. CMPD police chief Mike Campagna with a protester, whom I’ve seen at the earlier uprising too. The next day while shooting the NBA game at the Spectrum Arena comes the revelation, he is one of the cameraman working every game. Yet again, it puts a person, a life to the effort…

  89. 161130-peterzay444

    This photo was titled ‘the silver lining’

  90. 161201-peterzay1788

    The ‘new’, ‘one million Dollar’ Nutcracker

  91. 161201-peterzay2890

    ‘Bow’ – I’ve taken a similar image one year before.

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  94. 161209-peterzay33bw

    Avant-Garde Christmas tree

  95. 161209-peterzay708

    Fallen – after a collision…

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