It’s About Light…

This photography thing–it’s about light!

I’ve had many people ask me throughout my career how I achieve “that look” in my imagery. My answer is always the same–it’s about being where you need to be when Mother Nature puts on the light show, and it’s about understanding how to capture it.

Skies were gray and stormy last night in the Salt Lake valley, yet there was a sliver of sky on the horizon that gave me enough hope to get out and shoot some trail running imagery. We …
shot some stuff with killer clouds, and then we watched (and proceeded to run around like chickens with our heads cut off!) as the sun slipped into that sliver of sky and proceeded to bathe everything around us in a hue of gold nearly impossible to describe.

The image comparison here is perfect for illustrating the immense power of golden light. You can’t replicate it. Two shots, nearly identical save for the ridiculous gap light in the image on the right.

This is our winning lottery ticket. This is our jackpot. This is our payday. This is our pie in the sky. Light like this is what we live for. Find it. Shoot it.

You’ll spend the rest of your lifetime chasing it.

Upgrade your Creativity

With the announcement of the new Canon EOS 7D, I’ve been thinking a bunch about how quickly technology is advancing these days. If you look at what we were shooting digital images with just 5 years ago, the advancements are mind blowing. It would appear, that it’s becoming easier to shoot “good” images and becoming increasingly harder to stand out as a photographer and create imagery that one remembers. In this world of visual distractions (and attractions), only the technically sound and (perhaps more importantly) the creatively innovative will be able to produce imagery that will stand the test of time.

Fall color, perfect for photography in Little Cottonwood Canyon, UT

Fall color, perfect for photography in Little Cottonwood Canyon, UT

Here’s a frightening statistc: Online photo sharing site Flickr hosts more than 3.5 billion images. An average of 3 million images are uploaded daily. You read that right. 3 million images are uploaded EVERY DAY. How, in the name of Ansel, are you going to produce something that stands out?

A hiker gazes in wonder at a tree growing through red rock canyons on Wallstreet, Bryce Canyon National Park

A hiker gazes in wonder at a tree growing through red rock canyons on Wallstreet, Bryce Canyon National Park

Here is some food for thought. Instead of upgrading your camera, lens, computer, memory card, huge 30″ monitor, new zoom lens, tripod, filters, cable release, operating system, editing software, backpack, lens cap, camera belt, lens cleaning solution, dust remover or any other piece of the endless list of equipment we all use, try this: UPGRADE YOUR CREATIVITY. Manufacturers produce new cameras nearly every quarter these days, but how often do we upgrade our ability not just to create, but to see better imagery.

Morning storm clouds and mist over the Wasatch Mountains, east of Salt Lake City, UT

Morning storm clouds over the Wasatch Mountains, east of Salt Lake City, UT

Read a good book. Follow an inspiring blog. Give yourself a challenging assignment. Fail. Succeed. And then do it all over again. And here’s the important part–do it with your own style and panache.

Trail running in late evening light through the foothills above Salt Lake City, UT

Trail running in late evening light through the foothills above Salt Lake City, UT

Here’s another idea: Build your own better version of you. How long have you been running on Joe v1.1 or Sarah v1.2. It’s time to upgrade to version 1.5, or better yet, give yourself an entire system upgrade and find Bill v2.0. Sleeker, faster, smoother, more efficient, and a creative animal beyond compare. Hey! I’d buy it!

A few stout sprigs of Indian Paintbrush stand resolutely beneath towering aspen trees in Big Cotonwood Canyon, UT

A few stout sprigs of Indian Paintbrush stand resolutely beneath towering aspen trees in Big Cotonwood Canyon, UT

The longer I am in the business of photography, the harder it gets to challenge myself to be a better version of me. Resist the temptation to become a better Chase Jarvis or Art Wolfe or even (gasp) Adam Barker. Much like looking at a road map, the work of established photographers doesn’t speak so much to the destination as it does to the journey. There are a million ways to arrive at the pinnacle, why follow a path already trodden?

A bent rod and tight line on the Weber River, UT

A bent rod and tight line on the Weber River, UT