Welcome! I am a nature photographer based in the Upper Midwestern region of the United States, and I also travel to protected public lands around the United States that inspire me.
Since I began photographing the natural world in 2012, my motivations have continuously evolved and I've found it surprisingly difficult to answer the question "why do I keep doing this?", despite spending untold hours and energy on it year after year. Recently, I finally found a simple yet satisfactory answer - nature photography continually pushes me to grow as a person and do challenging yet rewarding things.
I've curated four collections of photographs with short descriptions that each detail a reason the craft itself makes my life more fulfilling. I invite you to take the time to go through each one to learn more about me:
Guy Tal is one of my favorite photographic artists and writers, and I highly encourage you to visit his website and blog. Recently, he wrote an essay about his relationship with photography that resonated so deeply with me that I obtained his permission to post excerpts of it here. It describes my current complex relationship with photography quite well:
(Originally from https://guytal.blog/2019/11/20/commitment-and-doubt/)
To the degree that I am, and have been, committed to photography, the commitment has not always been the same. Long ago, photography was a fun and gratifying thing to do: an enjoyable hobby to augment and to enrich my solitary explorations. It soon became a passion, then an obsession, and then it got considerably more complicated as is the fate of any long-term relationship. Some days I feel I can’t do without it, and other days I can’t stand the thought of it. Some days it’s a source of happiness, and other days, a source of despair. Some days it’s a gift, and other days, a burden.
In my early years as a “serious” photographer, if you asked me why I photograph with such great dedication, I may have given you some naïve trope about photography being my creative outlet, or about showing people the beauty of nature, perhaps even contributing to public awareness of the need for conserving wild places. In truth, none of these was ever really, or at least not entirely, the case, but in different times they all felt as real as any other explanation I’ve had. In hindsight, I confess, photography was never something I’ve done for any particular purpose. I practiced it because it added yet more enjoyable dimensions to experiences that already were, still are, and likely will always be, indispensable to my wellbeing.
It’s not only that the mechanics and technical qualities of photography allow me to create in places and circumstances not well-suited for other media, but also that, by continually training my mind to intuitively seek interesting and photogenic subjects, I become more mindful and aware of dimensions of my experience—things and relationships, both real and metaphorical—that I may otherwise not take notice of. Photography not only gives me the technology to make expressive art in the places and conditions where I am already inspired, but it also enriches those conditions and enlarges the range of things I may find inspiration in. In terms more conducive to art, photography is not only a useful tool for expressing creative ideas once I already have them, but its practice also increases the likelihood of having such ideas.
Beyond sometimes doubting my commitment to photography, I also sometimes doubt my commitment to presenting myself to the world as a photographer—not only in considering my other passions and interests, but also in light of the expectations and prejudices that often go with the designation. Most people, I learned, have a more simplistic, and often lesser, opinion of photography as an art form as compared with such things as painting or music. Beyond just a penchant for “taking pictures,” few consider photography as an emotional and intellectual pursuit, as they might consider such things as poetry or creative writing. What to me is “a work,” to many is “a shot”; what to me is a creative act, to many is just being in the right place at the right time, if not outright dumb luck; what to me is the culmination of a prolonged experience, to many is just a random moment frozen in time; what to me is subjective expression, to many is objective representation.
MORE ABOUT ME
In addition to photography, my interests include music (I play bass guitar in a power metal band named "Lords of the Trident"), fitness, meditation, reading, thinking, computer stuff, and being a husband, friend, and dog owner. I live in Madison, Wisconsin.
THE NATURE FIRST PRINCIPLES
- Prioritize the well-being of nature over photography.
- Educate yourself about the places you photograph.
- Reflect on the possible impact of your actions.
- Use discretion if sharing locations.
- Know and follow rules and regulations.
- Always follow Leave No Trace principles and strive to leave places better than you found them.
- Actively promote and educate others about these principles.