2016 a glance into the rearview mirror

Instead of viewing 2017 as a fresh start, I want to view it as an opportunity to build upon the experiences with which 2016 has provided us. I know many of us are feeling a bit crestfallen given the divided state of our nation and the many issues that plague the global community. Although this sadness is valid, we should also feel motivated to be better, do better and strive to make 2017 a year we are less ready to part with.

I have learned much more about the global world (macrocosm) and my personal world (microcosm)- but not without the expected growing pains. I have witnessed great suffering, but in tandem with the pain I have witnessed the helpers and the humanity present in every tragedy. I hope in 2017 we channel our collective disappointment into a productive force of change.

2016 introduced me to many new places and faces. In addition to mourning the casualties of the year, I wanted to share some of my favorite images I made. As it turns out, 2016 wasn't all bad. However, I'm holding 2017 to a higher standard.


I spent much of winter 2016 following the Nebraska women's gymnastics team during their season. I was amazed by their hard work, dedication and also by the overall beauty of this sport.
I spent my Valentine's Day shooting a drag show in Lincoln. It's been my favorite way to celebrate that holiday so far.


I spent my spring break in Omaha, so of course I had to spend a day at the Henry Doorly Zoo. To me, this scene captures the essence of childhood in Omaha, Nebraska. Growing up, I spent countless hours with my nose pressed up against this glass exactly as this little boy is doing here.


Empire State of Mind - In April, I visited New York City for the first time to attend The New York Times Portfolio Review. That weekend, I met many new fellow photojournalists and editors who are now my friends and people from which I can seek photographic advice.
The new One World Trade Center
My sister and dad accompanied me to the Big Apple.


In May, I spent a couple weeks in Nepal. While I was there, I spent time documenting a hospital that treats leprosy patients. I also got to see Mt. Everest, which was cool. This photo was shot from the rooftop of my hotel during a beautiful thunderstorm.
Here is an image from my story covering the leprosy hospital near Kathmandu, Nepal. Here, a man undergoes a leprosy diagnosis at a clinic.
In May, I also did some freelancing for the Lincoln Journal Star, where I covered my first (and very rainy) marathon.


June was a busy month for me. In addition to shooting events from Lincoln, I started my Lemonade photo project, which is my visual interpretation of Beyonce's new album.
I began June by flying from Nepal to Nebraska to San Francisco to compete in the Hearst Photojournalism Championship. It was an unforgettable experience because I met some pretty fantastic people and I got to see California for the first time.
I photographed one of the only gay bars in the impoverished Tenderloin district of SanFran. Because of gentrification, many of these bars can no longer afford to stay open- in a city known for its pride.
In June, I started my internship with photographer Joel Sartore, and I moved into the third floor of their beautiful home. Their dogs became my constant companions. Muldoon, who is pictured above, was one of my best friends. He passed away later that summer, and it was another great loss of 2016.
Another tragic loss of 2016- the mass shooting at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida. A thousand miles away, Nebraskans gathered at the Capitol for a vigil to mourn the loss of life and show support for the LGBT+ community.
Summer in Lincoln provided me with some precious quality time with my dear friends, like Allison and Henry.
I also began my ongoing project of sharing the story of Cassie Lacy, a woman with down syndrome in Omaha.
Here, Cassie walks down the staircase at her home.
In July, I photographed Nebraska's Big Rodeo in Burwell.


In August, I photographed the Crow Fair in Crow Agency, Montana- where I spent five days sleeping outside in a tent (rain or shine, more of the former). It was my first time camping, and my first pow-wow. I also turned 20.
A sweet little girl who caught my eye before the pow-wow.
A cowboy at an Indian rodeo.
More cowboy hats- finding the perfect fit.
One more fair to round off the month- the Nebraska State Fair.


In September, I shot many assignments for the Lincoln Journal Star- including my first high school football game. Naturally, I shot more cheerleaders than football.
I also photographed a BMX race for the first time.
....and my first Trump rally.
And the fall of my junior year was in full-swing: Homecoming Week.


October was an emotionally straining but rewarding month. I had the privilege of sharing the story of the Boesem family, pictured above. (Story link below.)
This image is part of an upcoming project concerning the Lakota people of the Pine Ridge Reservation and the effects of alcohol sold in Whiteclay, Nebraska. This is Warren Benjamin Clownhorse, on the streets of Whiteclay, where he spends his days drinking alcohol with other Native people. I spoke with him for awhile, and we forged a kind of friendship during this weekend I spent on Pine Ridge. I noticed I could see my own reflection in his eyes in this image, which made me feel deeply connected to both him and this story as a whole. Photographers form a special relationship with the people they photograph, and this strangely intimate bond seems perfectly illustrated in my minuscule presence here. There's historical reason this rampant problem of alcoholism exists, and it has become a journalistic responsibility to shed light on this problem through the project I've been working on this semester with 11 other student journalists at UNL. We want our work to reflect the immense suffering of the Lakota in order to incite concrete change...hopefully starting in 2017.
My good pal Chris on the Pine Ridge Reservation. He was a good friend and confidante to me during a challenging week of emotional journalism. Thanks, bud.
Portrait of Alexis Harris at a Black Lives Matter rally in Lincoln.
personal note- I got my bunny Fitz in October, and then his brother Leo (right) a few short weeks later.


Election Day...
Fall in Nebraska - had to sneak at least one Husker football-related photo in here. Here is a member of the marching band walking through Memorial Stadium before the Maryland game.
I went to the mall once- Riham Farhan recently opened a beauty/clothing shop called Rotana, which means "pretty girl."
another marathon. good for you.
a soft self portrait for personal news - this month, I found out I will be the summer photo intern for The Washington Post.


December is a much-needed respite filled with home-cooked meals and time with family and friends. In the warmth of my fireplace, I can come to terms with the losses and gains of 2016.

Among the other fallen stars of 2016, my sweet Daisy was a victim of a failed transmission. She was sold in December.
A young girl admiring the strong women of the Nebraska volleyball team during their game against TCU.
A scene from the annual Heroes and Helpers event, where members of the Lincoln Police Department helped children in need shop for their Christmas presents. It was a nice reminder of not only giving this holiday season, but also fostering good relationships between law enforcement and the community they protect.
Grab back. Get angry. Be productive. 2017.
Me too, Macy.
home is where your dog is.
Ice skating with my dad in downtown Omaha.
Thanks for looking. -CK
Created By
Calla Kessler


Calla Kessler

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