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Best Photos of the Year – Travel Adventure and Photography

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Shawna Coronado in Amsterdam Netherlands Holland

Travel adventures

Nikon Coolpix with carabiner attached

This has been an amazing year filled with travel adventures I never dreamed I would have. I wanted to show the world how to make a difference and also how to live healthier and more passionately. I was fortunate  to travel all over the world (above you see me in Amsterdam) and have some great fun in the process. Here are some of my favorite photos from this adventurous travel year which I did not get to show you in my regular blog posting. I think the photos show how you can capture some kick-ass passion and interest in life. I hope you agree and go out there and find some passion yourself.

My passion for photography began in 2008 when I started my blogging journey. I had no idea photography and travel would become such an intricate part of my life.  At that time I took a few hundred photos per year. Now I take thousands and thousands of photos. I never leave my camera at home for fear I might miss an amazing moment in one of my adventures. My camera is a Nikon Coolpix S9300 point and shoot. I have purchased three of them since 2008 and abuse the hell out of them – taking them everywhere I go. I have attached a carabiner as a handle so I can clip it on my jeans, backpack, or even bathing suit while on the go. Learning how to use the camera to take photos that would be considered professional quality has been a challenge. I love challenges, don’t you?

Let me know what you think of the photos below and if you have a favorite – some selected for the photo itself and others selected because they are just weird and wacky – and please send me links to your best photos because I want to see them and follow your passion too. Happy picture taking!


Best photos - Iron Pipes and Flooded Homes

Workers in Warrenville, Illinois are out late one night fixing the water pipes which burst in January and threaten to flood local homes. I loved the play of color and light combined with the deep blue night sky.

Grandpa Jose and the Table

This is my father-in-law who suffers from dementia. I call the photo “Grandpa Jose and the Table”.  He is sitting at the kitchen table drinking coffee and seems so deep in thought. This photo was taken on a day when he was particularly confused and disheartened because of his illness and my heart felt sad that I could not help ease some of the issues for him.

Best photos - pigeons in Daley Plaza Eternal Flame Memorial

I took this shot on a cold morning just as dawn was awakening the City of Chicago. The pigeons are cold and warming themselves at the Daley Center Eternal Flame Memorial. They looked like little boy scouts warming themselves around a campfire.

A view of the ocean before the storm in Cancun

Travel adventures

Describing the colors of the ocean water off the Yucatan Peninsula near Cancun is nearly impossible, yet this photo shows you how powerfully beautiful the waters are. While I was sitting on the beach in Mexico a storm rolled in, darkening the sky in the distance, yet allowing the sunshine to brighten the aqua waters near the beach. The breath-taking moment lasted less than a minute – I snapped the photo and it was gone.

James Rollins at Fermilab

James Rollins is a friend and best-selling action thriller writer who came with me to tour the Department of Energy facility Fermilab National Accelerator Laboratory this year. We were incredibly honored to be permitted to tour a high-security area over 300 feet below the surface built to study neutrinos as part of the MINOS experiment. This is a photo of Jim Rollins standing in the huge underground tunnel deep below the earth. I love the shot both because Jim focuses on these types of facilities in his thriller stories and I was also geeking out with excitement over being deep beneath the ground to see the experiment in person.

Flat Jacob gets a ticket

Third and fourth graders across the United States often do a “Flat Stanley” project where they send a little miniature “Flat Stanley” of themselves out to their friends and have their friends take photos of the resulting adventure. My friend Chris Tidrick sends me his little flat kiddo. Within 15 minutes of my receiving the flat kiddo a cop pulls me over and gives me a ticket. You can imagine his shock as he walks up to the car and I am laughing hysterically. He did not think it was funny. “Excuse ME Ma’am!”  When he goes back to write the ticket I sneak the little guy out the window to document the experience.

Shawna Coronado Eyeball Self Portrait

I travel often due to my business. I get bored at airports and in airplanes when I travel – A LOT. My youngest daughter and I spent three hours one plane ride trying to capture our eyeballs via camera. We took nearly 160 photos and only one photo of my eyeball turned out. When we got the photo home we figured out that the little brown freckle which I have had in my eye my entire life is actually shaped like a tiny heart. Downright astounding.

P Allen Smith Portrait at Marlsgate

While at the decorous southern estate, Marlsgate Mansion, for a tour with a large group of garden writers I snapped this portrait of P. Allen Smith sipping sweet julip cocktails and chatting about the home and garden. Allen has an encyclopedic knowledge of horticulture – I found both the conversation and the location fascinating.

Wig Heads in Little Rock

This is the only wig shop in downtown Little Rock, Arkansas. If you are touring Little Rock, you must go in to say hello to the owner of the shop. Do not bring your camera. My three friends and I got KICKED OUT of this wig shop for causing trouble. There were wigs – I had to try them on. I love the scary heads all lined up in a row – a bad movie just waiting to happen.

Best photos - Clouds on flight
Best photos - Clouds on flight 2 - Travel Adventures

Travel adventures

One particular flight across the U.S. brought the most interesting cloud formations I have ever seen. I thanked myself for having booking this particular flight from Jettly’s website. Above you see two photos from the trip. I was lucky enough to be sitting on a window seat on a quiet flight so I could spend the trip happily snapping away.

Best photos - Window designers working

I am meeting a producer downtown Chicago and I cut through an alley to get to the meeting. As I walk by an old warehouse, I see two ladies doing fashion window design. I love the mannequins and the jumble of mess. Fascinating.

Best photos - skunk babies

Using my super-sleuth detective skills I tracked down the wild things that were digging up half my garden this summer. Seven baby skunks plagued our neighborhood with their particular style of orneriness.

Best photos - Self-portrait with the Google maps streetview car

Yes I AM a geek. When I saw the Google Map Street View dude IN MY NEIGHBORHOOD, I forcibly made him pull his car over so I could get a self-portrait. Embarrassing, aren’t I?

Best photos - Def Leppard Concert

Sitting amongst thousands being surrounded by light and sound is pretty exciting. This is a Def Leppard concert. Love the blue.

Best photos - Bicycle in Amsterdam

Forgive this photo being a little blurry, but it was a fantastic interest item. I am shopping in Amsterdam, Netherlands and it is pouring rain. As I stand on a corner, a college aged guy drives past me on a bicycle holding a golden bottom-half of a woman. I HAD to take the photo. I chased after him wearing high heel boots for nearly three quarters of a mile shouting, “STOP! STOP! I HAVE TO HAVE THAT SHOT!!!” When I finally catch him he says, “I’m late – make it quick! Only in f*cking Amsterdam, right?” Indeed. And so I took a super-quick snap and off he bicycled into the sunset.

Best photos - Nuns in Germany

My friend Sietse DeWit took me to see the world’s largest independent garden center in Cologne, Germany while I was in Europe. We are driving back to Holland and I have the window open while we are driving (camera in hand, of course). I look up and see a random group of nuns exiting the underground transportation system. HAD. TO. TAKE. THE. PHOTO. Nuns on the street in Germany. Fantastic.

Best photos - Sunset in Holland - Travel Adventures

Travel adventures

The Netherlands are beautiful – here is the proof. This photo was taken in the fall evening, just as a tourist park was closing near Amsterdam. Storm clouds were hanging over the area and the lighting was magical.

Best photos - Sintra Portugal Quinta da Regaleira Castle

While in Sintra, Portugal I visited a castle; the Quinta da Regaleira. We hiked the extensive gardens on a mountain near the ocean and I captured a picture which showed some of the castle and “Naked Ladies” growing on a hillside. What a beautiful place.

Best photos - Lisbon Portugal - Travel Adventures

Travel adventures

Lisbon, Portugal is filled with the most astounding reflective light. It bounces back and forth around the old buildings and brightens the eye. It was a feast for my camera and I took hundreds of shots. I jokingly said that Lisbon ONLY GOES UP because my legs and back were so sore from walking up the hills. Here you can see how steep the hills in the city are and also how beautiful the light is.

Best photos - Huge bug in Tucson

Bugs are huge in Tucson, Arizona. This is a photo of a bug that is several inches from tip to tail climbing on cactus in the Tucson Botanic Garden. He is staring at me. Scary.

Thank you all for being so supportive of my adventures. I am glad for you peeps sharing your stories and your love. I hope your year was filled with adventure and passion!

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  1. Great photos Shawna! Thank you for sharing I love photos and take a zillion a year, I bet this was a fun post for you. No matter where I am around the world, the most favorite place for me to be is home in my garden.

  2. Shawna, you have the best life! I love reading about your adventures and seeing your beautiful photos! Thank you for what you do, and for sharing it with us!

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