Tony Carroll — Denver, PA
There were a tremendous number of entries submitted by AARP members from across the country for the 2024 AARP Foundation Calendar Contest. It was a difficult task to narrow down the beautiful photographs we received — but we think you’ll agree that our judges found great examples of our theme, Reasons to CelebrateTM.
A special thank you goes to all of those who submitted photographs and to our judges: Steven D. Fleshman, Founder/Creative Partner, DR2, and Forrest MacCormack, professional photographer based in the Washington, D.C. area.
Cheryl Reuss - Glendale, AZ
Cheryl took this stunning image in the autumn, while she was visiting family in the Navajo Nation. She had never been to the northern entrance to the Grand Canyon and wanted to see it from a new perspective — but as the car turned a corner, Cheryl was overwhelmed with the color and had to take this picture. “For me, this was a moment to celebrate nature in all of its glory.” Cheryl is proud to be a member of AARP. As she says, “It’s a really great resource to help us understand and live in this constantly changing world.”
Sandy Powers - San Antonio, TX
Autumn Greets the Morning
Sandy has been “obsessed” with photography for about 20 years, ever since a chance encounter in which she gave a ride to a photographer in Colorado. For this picture, Sandy and her husband were visiting Maine, staying in a home that was “all windows.” “My husband nudged me one morning to show the sight, and I ran right outside with my camera.” While she was taking pictures, a baby skunk sat at Sandy’s feet and accompanied her throughout the sunrise. For Sandy, this moment amplified her connection with nature and the “beauty of God’s creation … to be there watching the sunrise with these animals just filled my soul.”
Roberta Blain - Eden, UT
Water for Spring
Roberta is always on the lookout for something amazing to photograph — she’s always noticing things that other people tend to miss — and she was moved by the scene of this moment, wondering about the destination of the tire tracks in the snow. As Roberta says, “I feel like every snowflake is a reason to celebrate,” but the snow in this image took on added importance in the aftermath of a drought in the region. “I was celebrating the water it would bring us for spring.”
Julianna Bendickson - Inglewood, CA
Under the Coronado Bridge
Julianna took this picture as part of her photography courses at a local community college, as she did a photo series on bridges in her area in Southern California. She finds a great deal of joy not just in photography, but in the opportunity to continue learning and studying this art. To her, every single thing she has learned about photography is a reason to celebrate. “I’m absolutely giddy every time I get to go back to school!"
Ronda Derendinger - Cordell, OK
Ronda was the photographer for her high school newspaper, and she’s loved taking pictures ever since. She and her husband were traveling toward the Tetons and Yellowstone when they spotted some moose out in a field. Ronda lowered her window, got out her camera, and started gently whispering, when one of the moose approached the truck as calm as could be! For Ronda, this deep connection with wildlife was a powerful reason to celebrate. And she’s proud to be a member of AARP. “They’re a beacon for seniors and our issues. AARP always fights for us.”
Sylvia San Pedro — Houston, TX
Another Mode of Transportation
Sylvia was on her first trip to Italy with her husband, celebrating one year of retirement, when she snapped this picture from a gondola as they traveled the canals of Venice. She was struck by how she’d arrived in Italy by plane, took a bus to Venice, and then navigated within the city by boat. “For me, this was a celebration of the many ways we travel through the world.”
Buddy Green — Cheyenne, WY
Sip of Water
Buddy has been practicing photography for just two years, after being encouraged to take it up by family members during his recent retirement. “If you had told me three years ago, I would not have believed I would be into this.” Buddy has spent a great deal of time in Wyoming’s Curt Gowdy State Park taking pictures of the spring migration, but he caught this moment of a Northern Cardinal drinking water when he was visiting family at the Santa Clara Ranch in South Texas. “For me, as a person of faith, photography allows me the opportunity to capture the beauty of God’s creation.”
Patrick Russell — Berkley, MI
Patrick was about four hours away from home, taking pictures in northern Michigan, when he encountered the most intense aurora he had ever witnessed. “This was the strongest aurora I’d ever seen, and I could see it and hear it pulsating over my head.” He was alone during this powerful moment and “it was one of those feelings where I was just looking for somebody to tell. It was a magical night, and I will remember it for the rest of my life.”
Barry Brayer — Sherman Oaks, CA
Hot Time, Summer in the City
When Barry was 8 years old, his parents bought him a Kodak Brownie, and he’s loved photography ever since. Barry was in New York City with family when they encountered an interactive art installation in Brooklyn Bridge Park, and he came upon a group of people frolicking in the water. As Barry says, “every day is a gift, and to me, this image is an incredible celebration of life.”
Gary Hargreaves — Enfield, CT
Horseshoe Bend at Sunset
Gary has been taking pictures for more than 50 years and has a special love for photographing sunsets. He had been to Arizona’s Horseshoe Bend in the past on photography trips, but this time he returned with his wife so that he could show her the sights. “We sat there together watching the sun go down for an hour and a half. Being able to capture something like this at the right place and the right time was really special."
Celebrating Life Together
Tony was setting up to take pictures of this dazzling sunset at Perdido Beach in Pensacola, Florida, when he noticed a couple holding hands walking along the shoreline and included them in his shot. “My wife and I were here, celebrating life together. I think this couple was too. This picture will have lasting memory for me beyond this calendar … it reminds us of our lives together.”
Lucie MacDonald — Lexington, KY
Lucie was walking on the beach with her boyfriend — also a photographer — when they encountered a fisherman being followed by heron, both in search of the same thing. “To be there at the right moment is a celebration for a photographer. And to see those two with the same job and the same goal, showing up together for me with the perfect lighting? It’s thrilling!”
Joe Vale — Columbia, MO
Morning Sun and Fog at the Creek
It was a cold October morning in Columbia, Missouri’s Hinkson Creek, and Joe was cold and wet, tempted to return home for a cup of coffee. But something told him to keep going, and as he came around the bend, the inspiring image above is what he saw. For Joe, who has embraced photography during his retirement, this picture celebrates the rewards of pushing through that moment of discomfort and inconvenience. “I celebrated that I didn’t turn back.”
Steven Borrello — Wappingers Falls, NY
Aim for the Moon
A retired teacher and school principal, Steven used to love taking pictures of students and families at events, showing their smiling faces as they returned to school. Today, he likes to point his lens toward the sky. On this particular night, five planets were aligned in the sky and Steven went out every 15 minutes in search of the right moment, which finally came at around midnight. As Steven says, “The USA is headed back to the moon, and seniors should continue to aim high. We have a wealth of experience to share, and the sky’s the limit as to what we can do!”
Paul Milley — Rancho Santa Fe, CA
Paul was in the Canadian Rockies with a photo group when he encountered this inspiring tableau. For him, “seeing the beauty in the world is a powerful reason to celebrate, especially being fortunate enough to do so as we get older.” He remembers coming down the mountain himself and seeing the one solitary canoer out on the water, and feeling so lucky to have caught this picture. “To me, this image asks us to stop for a minute and cherish the beauty of our natural world. The moment I took the photo I could hear a pin drop. It was beauty and solitude all in one.”
Susan Anderson — Star, ID
Reach for the Sky
Susan and her husband moved to a small town outside of Boise during the pandemic. When the world started opening up again, they began to try and experience everything they could, including the Boise Balloon Festival. This photo was taken very early in the morning as the balloons were taking off. As Susan said, “being with people, enjoying an event and looking at the glorious skyline filled me with joy and hope. It was like a new beginning for everyone, one that prompts me to reach for the sky, enjoy every single day, and celebrate every moment.”
Rick Baker — Erie, PA
Leaf Reflection in Tranquil Waters
Rick captured this image at Presque Isle State Park in Erie, PA during one of his daily trips in search of sunrise images. On this particular day he was alone, having arrived at the park just after opening, capturing this photo in one of the many lagoons throughout the park. “Now that I’m retired and getting older, I tend to recognize and appreciate the simple beauty of my everyday surroundings. Photography allows me to capture that moment in time and celebrate it in all it has to offer."
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