It’s hard to start this post. A week ago, had you asked me how this year has been, I would have answered that it was one of the best years to date, professionally and creatively speaking.

Photographically, I made major breakthroughs in both my photography and my approach to photography. I’m seeing differently, working differently and finally creating photos that I am proud to put my name on. After a heavy slump, I’ve become excited to make photos again.

Professionally, I’ve taken significant strides in branding myself (with lots of help thanks to my sister!) and getting my name out there, which I’ve never been quite comfortable doing. (I hate feeling like I’m high-fiving myself.)

I was lucky enough to be accepted into the Eddie Adams Workshop, where I was both inspired and motivated in a way that I didn’t know was possible.

I made friends with, like, a gazillion other amazingly talented, hardworking and (above all else) caring photographers who I look to for inspiration everyday.

And although it’s never been my end goal, it was also nice to have my work recognized this year in the form of 20+ awards from both the Arizona Press Club and Arizona Newspapers Association, including the title of Arizona “Community News Photographer of the Year.”

Unfortunately, personal and professional growth aren’t of great concern to the suits running most newspapers these days. Talent, perhaps even less so. On Wednesday, I lost my job at the Daily News-Sun due to “restructuring” by 1013 Communications/”AZ Local Media,” the company that owns the newspaper. Another company that operates under the belief that success will be best achieved by doing more (work) with less (staff).

So although my future remains a tad uncertain currently, I hope this change will only help to further the growth I’ve had over the past year.

Just gotta keep turning chicken shit into chocolate pudding.

Best2014_JMO002 Best2014_JMO003 Wednesday, September 10, 2014 (Jarod Opperman/Daily News-Sun) Best2014_JMO005sc.NoelHernandez001.JO.101414 sc.NoelHernandez005.JO.101414 sc.NoelHernandez015.JO.101414 sc.NoelHernandez014.JO.101414 Best2014_JMO006 Best2014_JMO007 Best2014_JMO008 Best2014_JMO009 Best2014_JMO010 Best2014_JMO011 Friday, March 14, 2014 (Jarod Opperman/Daily News-Sun) Thursday, October 23, 2014 (Jarod Opperman/Daily News-Sun) Best2014_JMO014 Best2014_JMO015 Friday, January 10, 2014 (Jarod Opperman/Daily News-Sun) Best2014_JMO017 Best2014_JMO018 Saturday, May 24, 2014 (Jarod Opperman/Daily News-Sun) Friday, February 28, 2014 (Jarod Opperman/Daily News-Sun) Best2014_JMO021 Best2014_JMO022 Best2014_JMO023 Monday, March 3, 2014 (Jarod Opperman/Daily News-Sun) Best2014_JMO025 Best2014_JMO026 Saturday, March 1, 2014 (Jarod Opperman/Daily News-Sun) Friday, March 7, 2014 (Jarod Opperman/West Valley Preps) Best2014_JMO029 Wednesday, October 15, 2014 (Jarod Opperman/West Valley Preps) Wednesday, July 23, 2014 (Jarod Opperman/Daily News-Sun) Best2014_JMO032 Best2014_JMO033 Best2014_JMO034