My Favorite Image of 2021

Bull elk crosses the Snake River through the fog.

As I look back on 2021, I am overwhelmed with gratitude. I got to meet so many new people and help them capture special moments: senior photos, my first wedding, soccer, family sessions, and businesses. Additionally, I was able to explore two National Parks. 

We ventured as a family to the Great Smoky Mountains in March for spring break and then headed to Grand Teton National Park in early June. Because I couldn’t get enough, we “swung by” the Tetons again in September in combination with a business trip later that week in Denver. 

Those few fall days in Wyoming were magical. My first time there without kids, I was able to work as much as I wanted and not have to worry about mom duties. My husband Dan and I were up before dawn and an hour inside the park for sunrise each morning. 

After photographing for four to five hours, we would head back into town and rest, eat some lunch, edit, and gear up for the afternoon. Sometimes that started with a hike, but mostly it included scouting out wildlife and sunsets. I was exhausted, but so so happy. 

My favorite image of the year came from a morning on the Snake River. Dan and I got there as the sun started to glow on Mount Moran; the sound of elk bugling in the fog lifted all throughout the valley. We walked down a path and just as we got halfway to our spot, five elk began to cross the river through the fog. So excited, I slipped down the hill on my butt, panting, and fired off my first shots of the morning. 

After they crossed, we positioned ourselves at the water’s edge further down, and several more groups waded in and traversed the cold waters, fog lifting all around them. Dan saw the largest bull emerge from the trees and signaled me. He walked down to the water, glanced at us, and splashed through the water with a bugle. My heart was racing, and when it was all over, it sang with gratitude. I may or may not have had some tears. 

My favorite image isn’t perfect, but it’s mine. It represents a time I got a glimpse of that liminal space between the mundane and magic. It reminds me of a moment when I gained a step closer to my truest self. It doesn’t represent the perfect photograph, but maybe one of those rare, almost-perfect moments one is lucky to experience a handful of times in life . 

If you’d like to see more of these moments, you can visit my Instagram here.


Jen Ritchie

I'm a nature photographer who loves capturing beautiful landscapes and wildlife from our yearly trips out West and parks here closer to home.


  1. Jackie B on January 4, 2022 at 7:24 am

    Beautiful Jen! The story made me feel like I was there too.

    • Jen Ritchie on January 4, 2022 at 9:22 am

      Thank you, Jackie! Happy New Year!

  2. Cecile Cummings on January 4, 2022 at 10:25 pm

    Thank you for sharing the beautiful landscapes and wildlife’s that our God gave us. Wonderful picture.

    • Jen Ritchie on January 10, 2022 at 9:43 am

      Thank you, Cecile!

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