I create landscape images because I love it. Nothing makes me happier than being out in the field, in nature, chronicling the things I see with my own eyes. The mind is feeble and, with time, forgetful, however. Capturing an image, therefore, serves two essential functions: one, it makes it more difficult for me to forget the beauty I experienced in the moment. And, two, it allows me to share with others what I saw and captured.
I realize that many people will never have the opportunity to visit some of the places I’ve seen while others may be introduced to a location through my work and be inspired to visit some day. Still others, meanwhile, may have already visited places I’ve captured. Regardless, I make sure I do my best to capture the essence of place when I’m out in the field. And I hope my images bring a smile to your face — regardless of whether you’ll never go to a place I’ve captured, will go in the future, or have already been.
Having said all of that, I capture images that make me happy. I’ve said this many times: I will not capture a subject simply because it pays the bills. No amount of money, for example, will encourage me to capture a wedding. That kind of photography simply doesn’t appeal to me. I won’t capture an iconic subject if I am not drawn to it. Indeed, I capture what I love and hope you’ll love it, too. In sum, trying to make my viewers happy first — and me second — would result in soulless, wooden images that I may not necessarily believe in or connect with. I’d have a portfolio that is mostly, even if potentially viable on a commercial basis, bereft of meaning for me.
I don’t approach photography from a philosophical point of view that permeates each image. Instead, my images reflect what I see in my mind’s eye before I get in the field. My photography reflects my purpose and intent. Indeed, I rarely show up to a landscape scene and simply document what happened while I was there. No. Rather, my images reflect my interpretation of scenes through my choice of composition, light, and exposure. In that way, Ansel Adams informs my thinking out in the field: “Photography is more than a medium for factual communication of ideas. It is a creative art.”
Meanwhile, my portfolio is comprised of single-image captures. I don’t do high-dynamic-range photography (HDR), I don’t stitch images together, and I don’t blend various scenes from several images into a final image. That’s not to say I have a negative opinion of those approaches. Absolutely not. In fact, many of my photographer friends employ any number of those techniques, producing some amazing, incredible images that I appreciate, respect, and thoroughly enjoy. Still, I simply find that I get more personal satisfaction from trying to get as much as possible into a single capture. That approach, of course, often means I have to return to the field over and over again until I get the conditions I want and need for my images. So be it. (I do, of course, edit my RAW images. I use Capture One, Photoshop, and Lightroom to edit my work.)