My biggest influence as a young emerging photographer was undoubtedly Galen Rowell. The undisputed father of modern-day adventure photography, Galen paved the way for people like me. I was drawn to him at an early stage in my development and fell in love with his participatory style of capturing the outdoors, whether he was shooting his athlete friends climbing, skiing and trekking in remote regions of the world, or photographing the beautiful and rugged landscapes that inspired his adventures.
In addition to following in his giant footsteps as a photographer, I have tried to carry on Galen’s legacy with my writing and teaching. I have always been inspired by his writing as much as his imagery. He didn’t teach the mechanics of photography, instead, he dug deep and explored the scientific and philosophical aspects of the craft from the standpoint of how we as humans see and perceive powerful images of nature and the outdoors.
In my eternal quest to create my own compelling photographs that convey the feeling of adventure, I look back on the enormous impact that Galen had on the world and I hope that I can carry on even a small amount of his incredible legacy.
My photographic life has happened in sections, with my earliest days immersed in film. Back then my big influences and inspirations were Edward Weston, Minor White, Paul Caponigro, Ansel Adams – and Mother Nature, above all. Wonder, awe and the life force all cheered me on; I had to express all that! But, when darkroom chemicals made me sick enough to have to flee the darkroom, I had to point all that passion and expressive desire in other directions. For me, that was the performing arts: dance, acting, singing, equestrian sports, figure skating. Of course, I continued photographing, but more for the memories.
Then, digital came of age and I had a second chance. In those early days the absolute biggest growth and 'return to that which I love most' happened in Google Plus. This platform launched everything for me; from the people I met, became friends with and learned from, to the opportunities that came my way as a result. The person who influenced me the most in those early days was Trey Ratcliff. His art, business acumen, zest for life and, later, his generosity and friendship. We don’t accomplish anything alone and I am incredibly blessed to have had a cornucopia wonderful influences and inspirations in just about every area of my life.
One of the people that most influenced me in a positive way at the beginning of my career is my good friend Stephane. When I was just starting in photography and was still working as an assistant to fashion photographers, Stephane was working as a model in Italy, Japan, as well as many other cool and exotic places. We met by chance (by mistake, truth be told) and it was one of the best mistakes of my life. Since the first time we did a photo shoot together, we always ended up with great results, whether it was photos for our portfolios or commercial lifestyle stock photography.
Stephane is one of the best motivators I have ever had in my career and continues to be a friend that I can lean on, even if we rarely get a chance to see each other anymore. Filled with positivity and always looking on the bright side, he was just the kind of friend I needed, especially in tough times. Photography has brought a lot of good into my life and I will always be grateful for the good and kind people like Stephane who have made such a positive difference in my career and my life. Thanks, brother!
When I got out of college I had majored as a teacher and became a high school teacher and football coach. That first year I was a freshman coach and we set a record that has never yet been broken; we didn’t win a single game and didn’t score in that entire season. So, I thought I needed a different career.
I went on to become a newspaper photographer. Photography was my hobby first, before it became a career. Throughout my life my father had a camera. He took pictures and would show color slides on the kitchen door. My brother and I would pop corn and watch the slides. The door he showed the slides on was yellow and, oh boy, were those images warm.
I photographed everywhere I could. When I started teaching I took some of the money from my income and bought my first camera.
Living on the Southern Oregon Coast for many years I developed my skills as a landscape photographer on the local beaches and throughout the Pacific northwest. Being that I was surrounded by nature within minutes or a couple of hours from my home, I was continually inspired.
The Pacific northwest has several fantastic landscape photographers, many of whom I now call friends. In those early years of learning landscape photography I was inspired by many of them. I am truly thankful for those, and others, I have met along the way, or via social media platforms. Photographers such as Ian Plant, Sean Bagshaw, Chip Phillips and Brenda Tharp, just to name a few, are the photographers whose work I find inspiring and influential.
A benchmark in my photographic life was making the decision to focus on landscape photography, over everything else. I knew that if I continued in the same direction, I was giving my photography career a shelf-life. Stepping away from being my own boss and picking up a full-time design job was the absolute best thing that I have ever done for myself as an artist. It really freed me up to do what I wanted to do and not have to 'sell my soul' for a pay-check. It has paid off in ways that I could never have even imagined.
The second benchmark is more recent. With the current climate of social media being king, it can be so easy to get caught up in the 'what can I do as an artist to get popular?' mindset. I am guilty too of getting that way, from time to time. It is human nature to want to be recognized for what you do, but all of that can be filled with emptiness. Growing as an artist is exponentially more important than growing a following, so get your priorities straight and go and have fun.
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Dimitri Vasileiou • Editor
Great testimonies. So inspiring. I love it. I think MOST Photographers are philosophers at heart!