No matter the particular camera or format, most of us photographers remember our first real experiences with photography as magical—a joyful and quickly addicting medium of expression. For me, my first memory was looking down through the ground glass of my father's twin-lens reflex camera, playing with the focus knob, and discovering that the camera saw backwards. When I was older, I remember the magic of the image appearing on the paper as it rocked back and forth gently in the developer tray. I remember discovering the magic of depth of field as I shot the same scene with different aperture settings, understanding more about how the camera works through discovery and play.

Choosing to pursue photography in a more serious manner—as a career choice, as a student of photography, or just as a serious hobby—can often lead to frustration and burnout. As an MFA student, I was exposed to so much incredible photography work and it often made me feel that everything had already been done and that all my ideas were trite and not worth pursuing. Frankly, some of the joy of photography had left me as I pursued it in such a serious way.

This series of photographs came out of an incredible opportunity to be allowed to freely play and experiment again. To feel the excitement of laying in wait for the perfect moment, one that could be anticipated, but not manufactured. To view the images on the computer and choose my favorites based on pure personal preference, not caring whether others would think they were the "best" but just loving that I loved them. To open each one up in Photoshop and over-tweak them to my heart's content, getting to the place where the colors in each one made me smile.

And perhaps the most exciting thing was to look at a series of final images that I did not feel I needed to judge or justify or otherwise overanalyze. This was a personally magical series, and the images remind me of the process of creating them, and of how I learned to embrace the joy of photography again. Thank you for this opportunity, David Arnold.