Industry News

Inside the Rangefinder Brain: Our Favorite Photos of the Year and Why

December 16, 2015

By RF Staff

The Rangefinder staff picked out their two favorite photos of the year—one sourced from Rf, one from the photo industry at large—to share what caught their eye and why it struck them.


Editor-in-Chief, Rangefinder

Photo © Joseph Victor Stefanchik

Joseph Victor Stefanchik | Rangefinder, Fully Lit: “Professor of Precision“ | May 2015

This “photo Jesus moment,” as Stefanchik first described it, was a one-off frame that he captured while lying on the ground as the birds walked in front of his lens. I was instantly drawn in by the flawlessly balanced composition, as well as by the scale of the roosters and the couple behind them. Stefanchik couldn’t have framed this more pleasingly had he posed it (he didn’t). Also appealing is the central focus here, with the chickens and couple coexisting in the frame so perfectly.

Photo © Hamish Trounson

Hamish Trounson | Palm Springs Portfolio Review, PhotoPlus Expo | October 2015

I first came upon the stoic Butler from the photo series “A Pugs Life,” when I met New Zealand photographer Hamish Trounson at the Palm Springs Portfolio Reviews at PPE this past October. (I hadn’t heard of Trounson before, nor did I know that this image had won first prize in Nature - Professional at Prix de la Photographie Paris (PX3) earlier this year.) I was simply engaged by Butler’s eyes, so soulful, and even a little sad...but was further drawn in by the red bandana and how it lends a bit of a bad-ass vibe to an otherwise adorable subject. Says Trounson of his pug series, “My intention was to create images using this catch phrase in a humorous way, nothing too over the top in props, just keeping it simple and exploiting the look each pug displayed.” Also working well here is Butler’s gaze, strong and steady, which can partly be attributed, says Trounson, to the trainer on set, Hero Animals. 


Features Editor, Rangefinder

Photo © Logan Cole

Logan Cole | Rangefinder, “Stars Rise Together” | May 2015

This photo is full of juxtapositions, and I love seeing those elements in an image that sort of unfold and surprise you the longer you look. The couple looks posed, especially with the way the bride’s dress blows dramatically without any trace of wind in the rest of the scene, but at the same time they seem totally relaxed. The silky, billowing dress is such a nice contrast from the dark, crisp edges throughout the frame. The editing is equally on point—it looks timeless, like it could have been shot in any era, yet it’s far from dated.

Photo © Aaron Tilley

Aaron Tilley | Kinfolk, “The Hunger Games” | Issue Fourteen

I’m looking at this photo as I write this, and I don’t mean on my computer screen. I cut it out of the Kinfolk magazine that I got as a Christmas gift last year (thanks, Cousin Sarah!), and it’s now pinned to my office wall, along with a couple others from this same series. The still-life photographer Aaron Tilley was commissioned to shoot conceptual photos to accompany the article called “The Hunger Games,” and his cheeky vision is spot on and expertly executed. “Fun food photography” has in some ways become oversaturated, but Tilley takes a much more sophisticated approach that is beyond delightful.


Art Director, Rangefinder

Photo © Michael George

Michael George | Rangefinder, “The Pilgrim” | July/August 2015

Deemed “The Pilgrim” in Rangefinder’s Portrait issue this past summer, Michael George’s ability to capture a subject’s true essence is plain to see in this portrait of Patrick Janelle, co-founder of The Liquor Cabinet. Originally produced for The Collective Quarterly, this image exudes the subject’s quiet confidence and gives the viewer a sense of who he is and where his passions lie in one simple, beautiful shot. 

Photo © LightWorks 360

Lightworks 360 | Seattle, WA | Adventure Anniversary Shoot

Juxtaposed with George’s reserved simplicity, this image by Seattle-grown husband and wife team Laura Huysman-Sullivan and Tim Sullivan of Lightworks 360 tells its own story in a booming way. This shot was born out of an anniversary session amongst freezing rain and steep cliffs on one of Seattle’s most popular hiking trails. The end result is a breathtaking image which, in the words of Laura, describes the couple’s personal dynamic: “This is him keeping a firm grip on her as she played in the rain; their balance is the perfect metaphor for marriage.”


Director, WPPI

Photo © Russell K. Frederick

Russell K. Frederick | Rangefinder, “The Return of Dandyism” | April 2015

There’s nothing I like more than a well-styled image, and this is one of them. While the image itself is quite simple, the subject is just so comfortable, yet very sophisticated. I also like that the processing of this image helps the overall classic feel. 

Photo © Johnson Wee

Johnson Wee | Johor Bahru, Malaysia | WPPI First Half Competition 2015 

I think most people who look at this shot think to themselves, “My gosh, why have I never thought of creating an image like this?” It’s simplistic yet beautiful, and humorous, and I love anything that makes me laugh. It is also impeccably styled, and the lighting is nice and clean. As wedding photographers we are always looking for inspiration with posing our clients, and this image serves as a great example of how we don’t need to overthink it.

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