As a boy I was drawn to nature. As a man I’m fascinated by it. As a photographer, I’m compelled to capture those perfect moments in time nature presents to me, through the craft that has become my calling. Landscape photography is my passion, my purpose, my journey and my job – but, above all, it is the defining joy of my life.
My entire existence has been shaped by the inexplicable connection I feel to the forces of what we call Mother Nature and, even from a very young age, I felt a pull towards the freedom of the vast, raw landscapes of America. The family road and rail trips of my boyhood left their imprint on my heart, and the memory of my first sight of the Colorado Mountains still stirs my soul today as it did back then.
Through my photography I’ve found a way to share that feeling of freedom and closeness to nature with others. With every click of the shutter, my goal is to go beyond simply the recording of a scene; I strive to capture not just the image I see through my lens, but also the very essence of that time, place, moment and perfection. I want the viewer to feel the same connection I did, as if they were right there on the beach at sunrise with the gentle waves rolling in, or standing beneath a majestic tumbling waterfall, damp from its spray, or resting their hands on timeless, weatherworn rocks in the desert, listening for ghosts of the past. I know it’s a big ask of myself, but it’s both my challenge and my motivation and it’s absolutely what I live for.
Throughout my many years on the road I’ve discovered the beauty of this magnificent country knows no limits. So for my part, I’ve vowed to place no limits on my willingness to explore it, and to adventure into the landscape with an open heart to receive whatever Mother Nature chooses to reveal. I’ve found my home behind the lens, wherever that may be; from the mighty frontier wilderness of Alaska’s ice passages, to the serenity of the lakes and aspen covered slopes of the majestic Rocky Mountains. These are the places that make my soul sing.
Many people hold nature at arm’s length, stepping back to enjoy its beauty but not seeking to achieve a spiritual connection. All my life I’ve been striving to get closer, to walk towards nature rather than away from it. As I explore those magical places, my job is to “get the shot”, to capture that moment and take it back with me through the lens of my camera, and what a job it is.
Every photographer is searching for that flawless image: that “wow” moment in time, captured in textbook composition. I’m no different, but sometimes I feel like my life is a series of “wow” moments and I walk around with an almost constantly open jaw. Because even after all this time and so many location shoots all over the country, the majesty of what’s right on our doorstep never ceases to amaze me. I don’t ever want to lose my wonder in the magnificence of nature’s creations and I understand the life I live is no small privilege. So, while I’m searching for that perfect shot, I’m enjoying every little “wow” of my journey…
I’m often asked my favorite place to shoot in America, but to me there is no best, or most beautiful. Each of the states has its own unique and exceptional beauty and, let’s face it: how could you ever compare California with Alaska? The magic of nature is not about a competition, though, it’s about every piece of the mammoth landscape puzzle complementing the others. In truth, aesthetics are so very subjective, because beauty really is in the eye of the beholder. But if I can move one person with an image I capture of a particular time and place, then I consider my job done.
I tend to be a planner and I envisage a shot exactly how I want it before the moment arrives. I picture the clouds, the shadows, the light and the ambience, and place everything in my mind’s eye with artistic precision. Of course, when you’re dealing with the fickleness of Mother Nature she doesn’t always play fair, but over the years I’ve learned how to tune into her moods, to “feel” her next move and be ready for it. It’s a bit like the way farmers can smell a storm coming, even out of a clear blue sky. I wait, I listen, I respect the elements and, above all, I expect the unexpected.
Sometimes I can scope out a location and there might just as well be a huge sign saying, “Here’s the shot, take the picture”. But I also visit hundreds of sites where the right angle and aspect are not so obvious. It’s in my nature to want every single shot I take to be a gallery quality image, but of course it can’t always happen that way. It doesn’t stop me trying though, because the same scene can change radically from day to day, hour to hour, second to second.
I see beauty everywhere in nature’s palette – in the drama of the big picture scenes and in the delicacy of the details. With creative techniques like long exposures I’m able to capture scenes that aren’t possible to view in real time. By leaving the shutter open and allowing the light to paint the scene I can pull in the details and colors of the atmosphere not visible to the human eye, to reveal the secrets Mother Nature keeps so close. Through my lens, familiar objects can become surreal, often revealing complexities that don’t appear until after they’re captured. It’s a truly magical process and I discover something new through photography every single day.
The proportions of what I want to achieve through my work are sometimes overwhelming, but what sustains me are the endless possibilities. I’ve got countless notebooks filled with locations, times, dates, weather, seasons, access and every detail of all the places I want to photograph, all over the world. So, I’ll continue to allow my restless spirit to be led by nature and my love of the land, to discover the myriad wonders of creation that can be found in any and every moment in time.
Because, wherever it is, no matter what I need to do to get the shot, I’ll do it. And if I can’t find a way, I’ll create one…