“Why I Shoot” Blurb goes here.


In our often claustrophobic existence, viewing wide open spaces is always a comfort. Although tiny homes, crammed cars, and small work spaces characterize much of our shrinking working world, there’s always an expanse nearby waiting to be visited with open arms. At least, in Colorado.

If even just for a few short hours, having regular periods of distance from the people and situations we are closest to in life allow our relationships room to breath. No one wants to suffocate, or to be suffocated and living with and amongst others, sometimes in a stacked situation, can have a stifling effect on our mental state.

Practicing alone and away with a camera help us realign our values. Life has a way of jarring us loose, beating us down, and leaving us for dead. Nature has a healing presence that brings us back to center, invigorates our passions, and helps us let go of the negativity we might be holding onto.

The way the clouds peel out across the open sky and summer storms get their start overhead as you watch, wait, and listen. Really, for no particular reason at all, but the way the beauty unfolds before your eyes is rejuvenating. Truly, wonderful things do come when we wait patiently, alone.

This particular afternoon, I was outrunning the storm pictured. It didn’t turn vicious, but heavy rain and lightening are the norm at this altitude. Geographically, the location of this shot is Triangle Park in the Meadow Lake Campground, near New Castle, CO. A flat tire out here is not advised. It’s just remote enough that, yes, your journey can become perilous if you’re unprepared. It’s electric start for me and boogie, boogie, boogie.

When we don’t practice alone and away, we neglect what nature can do, what nature is, how our mind needs space to expand, space to understand, and space to wonder. Do you know where that space is for you? It doesn’t have to be big and fancy, but it does have to work for you. You’ll know your space by the peace it provides, the refreshment it contains, and the clarity it boasts.

Solitude isn’t something to be feared, it’s something to be embraced and valued. We must never lose our taste for the lonely expansive places as they provide nourishment to our hearts for which there’s no substitute. Truly, these are fields of dreams that, unless we go there, will remain unseen.

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Art is everywhere. On a fire hydrant, on a tree trunk, in your home, and sometimes, on the sun roof of your car in the supermarket parking lot after a light rain. This isn’t to say that everything is art, because much of what we see today within the city limits is mass produced, with little details in the design, and meant to blend in, but, regardless of the bland landscape in which most of our daily lives operate, we’ll see more art when we open our creative eyes.

Living with creative eyes is an important practice for creators because, as photographers, one of our most common ruts is getting stuck thinking we need to be “somewhere” in order to produce great work. This kind of defeatist thinking leads us to keeping the camera in the pocket/bag and slowly draws us away from what we love most: shooting photos.

The weather is good 100 miles away today, next week I’ll be in the hills, or, if I could only book that flight, then I’d get that banger for the gram. This mindset of creating in future tense handicaps your presence in the current moment. You erroneously think, the epic sense of creative aura is out there someday on the calendar. No doubt, this perpetual attitude of creativity existing in future tense is inhibiting your creative eye right now.

The truth is, what makes you a wonderful creator isn’t where you are in the world, having the perfect weather, or being at a prime location, it’s you. That’s right. It’s the unique way in which you see the world that allows you to create differently than anyone else. You don’t stand out for where you are, but who you are.

Sometimes, we think it’s great circumstances that stir in us serendipitous motivations that get our cameras moving, but let’s remember that a photograph doesn’t always have to be superlative to mean something. Don’t forget that as much as people love seeing marvelous landscapes from secluded locations, they also like seeing interesting things. Not every shot has to make people say, “wow!”. Always keeping an eye out for the unusual will sharpen you creative edge and allow you to stay lucid.

Think of implementing art is everywhere as practicing for the perfect moment, the big game, or the grand slam. You’ve got to take some swings and misses before you really connect. We’ve all had that time with our camera that, as we depress the shutter button, we know the photos is worth sharing. However, we also have those days when things go to pot—the sky falls apart, we take a wrong turn, or the clouds roll in—and that’s frustrating. Maybe, on the occasions when photo conditions/locations are less than ideal, we can enter practice mode, instead of tuning out creative possibility, which won’t ever help us grow as artists. And who knows, it might rain.

There’s art somewhere right now and you’re just the creator to make the capture. Thinking it wouldn’t be worth it, how many moments are you missing because you’ve talked yourself our of taking the shot? Remember, your photo craft is more than just for others, it’s for you. You picked up the camera because you knew you saw the world differently. You wanted to record because you wanted to create art and it’s still everywhere, not just out there.

Before a picture is taken with a camera, it’s first taken with the mind. So, never let your creative eye leave your side and always be open to the possibility that a great photo lives around the next corner. Art is everywhere is a creative muscle you’ll be thankful you exercised. When you’re always looking for beauty, you’ll always find your reward.

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As a kid, growing up in my house, the Saturday morning wake-up call was Dad’s rendition of “America the Beautiful”. Wow. As a teenager, thank you very little. The way it was sung could, literally, raise the dead. Belted out like a screeching alley dog, howling, writhing in pain, off tune, and, all around, terrible on purpose, I would be jolted from precious REM. He would holler continuously, slowly making his way to the windows, draw the curtains, and, in the most succinct tone possible, would say: rise and shine, daylight’s burning.

I survived.

If you haven’t already, you’ll reach the point in your photo creative journey where you understand color can’t be manufactured. Yes, as artists, we can edit photos to taste, but there’s always those specific times of day when the light hits the moon like a big pizza pie. It’s a picture. Light is, no doubt, a camera’s most treasured resource.

For me, getting up early is still the pits, but there’s something that has driven me forward and out of cozy blankets. What has me up and loading gear is that fact that something is out there. Something IS out there that is worth more than what is in here.

It’s a nature scene that I’ve never laid eyes on that makes the journey, however harrowing, worth the trip. The picture that may develop is worth more than the comforts a day at home can afford. Sight unseen, the hope of a reward becomes the motivation. Photographers don’t go out for nothing, we are driven to create. And, lest we go crazy, we must drive there.

Tucked away in the heart of the Colorado Rocky Mountian range, this particular view of Mount Sopris was not an easy winter morning drive, not an easy wake up call, and, dare I say, not an easy decision. Was it worth it? Well, were all the stressors of the day relieved upon the actuation of the shutter button?


For me, a nature photo that brings fulfillment in my life resides outside the lines of normal. Normal is sleeping in, waiting for the perfect weather, and, coincidently, getting photo lazy. Any serious nature photographer knows that normal doesn’t do the job.

Abnormal means that we believe daylight is burning and something is out there. Rise and shine. This is the faith that a landscape photographer lives by. Not a guarantee of results by any means, but it’s the practice of the process that will grow an artist in any genre.

Strengthened by this attitude of abnormality, we always approach nature with a great expectation of a new revelation. This expectation forms a habit whereby many rewards follow, not because the results manifest themselves, but because photographers know that without diligent preparation there’s no hope.

Rousted from the dread of inconvenience, photo takers everywhere must brave the abnormal in hopes of bringing back the exquisite. When it’s cold, dark, you are weary, and the road seems long, the capture you want is still out there, but it will never be right here. Rise and shine, daylights burning. America is beautiful.

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