Looking Out in 2019 and Reflections on the New Year

2018 has been a hell of a year. From the pure joy of a jaw-dropping sunset in the Grand Canyon or Death Valley with friends to meeting new people across the country, to seeing nature in all its powerful firey fury amidst total death and destruction, to watching wildfires immolate homes and wildlife, to sitting on the smoky beach in Malibu shaking and feeling truly scared in the face of climate change, I’ve experienced the highest highs and the lowest lows the kaleidoscope of life has to offer. 


As 2019 unfolds things are already moving fast with speaking engagements, art exhibits, and new collaborations/projects. I’ll be sending another email soon with details on the upcoming art exhibit, so make sure to signup for my newsletter to get all the details.


In 2019 I am making space for new connections and adventures outside of the wildland fire world, but still in the outdoors and connected to my climate work.


In 2018 I learned to say yes to new experiences and places, published my first book, held my first solo art exhibit, and got a dream gig as a contracted fire photographer for the US Forest Service. Most of all I embraced and learned more about being my quirky self, which is inextricably linked to my photographic work and writing. I learned to say no more often to focus on the key fundamentals of my work and to rest after major wildfire trips.


This year I will be sharing more of my general landscape work, night-time photography, aerial photography from my drone, and general travel and adventure work. The same sense of exploration that led to the Terra Flamma project, and continues to drive it, is alive and well in my other personal work. Additionally, I am focusing on commercial work, using my unique experience to bring brands’ visions to life with a camera.


A new year is simply a mark on a calendar that humankind has manufactured to create order around the earth orbiting the sun. But it also gives us a chance to pause, reflect, and regroup. The question I ask myself each year, and the one I want to ask you is, whenever it’s your time to leave this earth, what mark will you leave? Will there be regret you didn’t take a risk to live fully and presently? Or when you keel over at the grocery store checkout line can you hit the sticky linoleum floor with a smile?


You don’t have to change the world or cure cancer (both of those would be cool though) but you can make a positive difference in your community, family, or group of friends. Can you say at the end of the day you used your unique life experience and made the world a better place? As 2019 approaches there’s a million ways to do it and make a living while doing so.


As Steve Jobs said “I want to make a dent in this universe.”


Go forth and make yours. - SP 

Lookout Mountain Colorado. Being in the snow for New Year’s was a welcome respite from fires.

Lookout Mountain Colorado. Being in the snow for New Year’s was a welcome respite from fires.

Stuart Palley