SHADOWS WERE LENGTHENING in the prespring sunshine as Vance Thompson and a friend neared the end of a long photo walk in Seattle in mid-March 2021. At the friend’s suggestion, the two headed to the Pike Place Market overlook before calling it a day. That’s when Thompson, 74, made his 2021 Seattle Times Reader Photo of the Year.

When I asked Thompson about the photograph, his “photographer’s eye” was apparent in his answer: “The late afternoon light saturated the colors in the construction area below the Market, and the texture and pattern of the rebar and solitary steelworker’s orange jacket caught my eye.”

Thompson, who was born in Seattle and has lived in the Emerald City virtually all his life, began experimenting with nature photography “around 1969, with my older brother’s black-and-white film Polaroid,” he says. In the years since, he has graduated from Polaroids to “real” film cameras and ultimately to digital cameras in the early 2000s. Among his favorite photography subjects is “the rugged beauty of the Pacific Northwest,” as well as urban subjects, he says, citing his “strong tendency to focus in on details, color and texture.”

Thompson’s tendency to see texture and detail is what made his Reader Photo of the Year possible. That, plus persistence and being in the right place at the right time. As Thompson says, “Keep shooting. The light always changes, and unexpected compositions might be just around the corner.”

Congratulations to Thompson on his 2021 Reader Photo of the Year! And a huge thank you to everyone who participated in Reader’s Lens in 2021. Our readers (particularly yours truly) are looking forward to all your fantastic submissions in 2022.

Below is a gallery of previous Reader’s Lens picks. Share your recent photo from around the Northwest. Submit online at Our favorite will appear in this spot next week. We judge the year’s best and award prizes in December.