10 Things Photography Has Taught Me About Life

Since I began this hobby two years ago, I have found that I do my best thinking camera in hand. Photographing in beautiful locations leads my mind to philosophize and romanticize. While I’m in no way the next Nietzsche, when I go out to shoot everything becomes clear and the world seems to make the most sense. Here are 10 things I have learned standing in open fields, sandy beaches, and on snowy mountaintops.

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1. Patience

Stay with it. Things are ever-changing and the most breathtaking thing could happen a matter of seconds after you decide to give up.
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Alaska cabin by candlelight[/one_half]
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2. Preparation pays off

A little planning and preparation goes a long way. I check weather forecasts, sun/moon angles, and terrain maps before heading to any location – and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to dig a headlamp out of the pack to hike back to the car after deciding to stay at a location well past an epic sunset.

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Exploring Southern Alaska

Last July, I was invited to go on a scouting trip to Sitka, Alaska with my good friend Colby Brown, a fine-art photographer from Denver. Having wanted to travel to Alaska since I was a little kid, I jumped at the opportunity. It would also give me a chance to scout a location that I have plans to revisit for two weeks this fall with a surfing crew.

Alaska was just as I imagined it. Friendly locals, clean, and untouched – like traveling back in time. However, upon returning home, the images have stayed on my hard drives for nearly 9 months. I shared some on Facebook and put a few more on my Tumblr, but nothing went into the print store, nor did I send anything out for publication. I brought back photos of broad, vibrant scenes, but that’s not what I felt in Alaska. Standing in the accurately-named Last Frontier state felt more raw. Like early explorers stepping foot on a new location for the first time. I didn’t feel that my shots captured that.

A few weeks ago I was lucky to stumble upon VSCO film, a set of film emulation presets for Lightroom. As a photographer, I’m ashamed to say I’ve never shot film. A part of me feels as though it’s some sort of right of passage to actually be called a photographer, and that I’m fooling everyone in the meantime. Applying the VSCO presets and some minor Lightroom adjustments, however, comes close to the feeling I get while flipping through old family photo albums. That’s what my photos from Alaska were missing – history and character.

So, 9 months later, here are some select shots from Sitka and Kruzof Island, Alaska. I can’t wait to return this fall with surfboards and tents in tow.
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September 2012 Desktop Wallpaper – Blue Lake, Alaska

One of my favorite things about photography is that luck can be just as much a part of a photo as years of knowledge and experience. My friends and I only expected to shoot at Blue Lake in Alaska for a few minutes before heading off to another location for the day, but when we came over the crest and saw the still lake, we were greeted with a rowboat that seemed to hover on top of the smooth water – the perfect foreground subject. We ended up staying here for an hour and this was one of my favorite shots. The lake was so calm and the air so still that it’s almost difficult to tell where the boat ends and the lake begins.

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August 2012 Desktop Wallpaper – Mount Edgecumbe, Alaska

Sitka Alaska Mount Edgecumbe desktop wallpaper

I had a incredible opportunity to travel to Alaska in June with two good photographer friends, Colby Brown and Joe Azure. We spent an entire week hiking, taking photos of the ocean, mountains, bears, and all the wonderful scenery that Alaska has no shortage of. Denver has had a stretch of multiple 100+ degree days this summer, so a trip to the cool, cloudy Sitka, Alaska was something that I intend to make a summer tradition. This shot was on one of the first nights in Sitka and one of the few that a sunset actually made it’s way through the clouds. It was worth the wait as this light show on Mount Edgecumbe was amazing.

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