Here’s the second part of our interview series celebrating our own home state, the beautiful state of Arizona...
I grew up just outside the city of Philadelphia back east and never had much interest in nature back then, though I always tried to be creative with whatever I was doing especially in school. Just as I began high school, my family and I moved to Arizona, a drastic move for all of us. I used to ride BMX and always flipped through the magazines looking at the photos, which prompted me to get a camera of my own. Years of riding a bike in the desert allowed me to enjoy the surroundings a bit more than most. Slowly but surely, I was becoming addicted to being out in nature. When I finally got my DSLR I knew I was going to be photographing nature almost exclusively. A trip to Yellowstone was like a dream for me, all the wildlife and nature one could have. It wasn’t long after that I began to focus on landscape photography and again, slowly but surely, I was almost exclusively photographing the landscapes I was seeing. The long lens began collecting dust, and the wide angle began getting all the love.
In 2012 after my first solo trip into California’s Eastern Sierra, I knew that I was going to primarily photograph landscapes from here on out. I still sometimes photograph wildlife when the situation presents itself, but it’s few and far between the amount of landscape photos I take.
Before I moved to Arizona, I always thought it was a true desert, barren, cacti everywhere, no rain or water, sand for miles, but I quickly realized that is not the case. In fact, I have found Arizona to be one of the most diverse places I’ve been, and most people are baffled by some of the locations that I photograph and share and mention they are somewhere in Arizona. If I’m not feeling the desert at the moment, I can drive an hour or two and be in the pine trees and mountains. If I want to photograph a lake or a river, there are plenty within driving distance. In the winter if I want to see snow I can drive up north and photograph it and come down to the desert and be in shorts the same day. It really is rather remarkable. We still get all four seasons here, in fact, IMO it’s hard to argue that there is anywhere better for fall color. Yes the east coast has some amazing places as do the rocky mountains, but neither of these locations can offer a lengthy autumn like here in Arizona. You can have various fall colors from late September all the way into January if you know where to look. The summer monsoons are also quite the spectacle and bring the drama of mother nature throughout the valley and all across the southwest.
It’s harder and harder to find hidden places these days no matter where you are, more often than not someone else has been there. I wouldn’t necessarily say I get to photograph hidden places, but rather places that are seldom seen as it takes more work than the average tourist. I like finding new places to me or places I haven’t been before. I often have people ask me “where is this” on my photos. Most of these places can be found doing a bit of research, which is part of the fun of adventuring and exploring.
I don’t use any fancy trackers or telescopes for my “astrophotography”, just my trusty Canon 6d, a Tokina 16-28mm 2.8, a tripod, and a wireless remote trigger. My favorite places to photograph the night sky are typically up north on the Colorado Plateau which connects Northern Arizona and Southern Utah and has some of the most spectacular and remote landscapes in all the southwest. Although, I would be hard pressed to say that the Eastern Sierra area in California and Death Valley are right up there among my favorites for that type of photography.
I think photographing the landscapes, the wilderness, the wildlife all over has given me much more appreciation for all things nature. I don’t take anything I get to experience out in the field for granted. I feel more free when I am traveling and exploring, not only taking photographs but actually being in these places. I want my photographs to bring some sense of awareness that wild places still and very much should exist in nature. I want people to appreciate these wild places rather than destroy them, and if my images can help do that then they have served more of a purpose and give me, even more, a reason to keep traveling and photographing.