Esper E-letter #21, July-October 2008, Adirondack Park. Topics: photography, successes, and finding your way in life
This summer and fall I have been busy photographing in the area I grew up in, the Adirondack Park of New York State, USA. It's here in Long Lake and the surrounding mountains that I learned outdoor skills and grew to love the outdoors and the mountains and hiking, and it's nice to return here for a while to now seriously photograph, because the last time I was here for any length of time was in high school, when I only had a point-and-shoot 4 megapixel digital camera. I became serious about photography only until after college, on my long travels in New Zealand. I can go back to my photos of that trip, and see a difference between the beginning and ending photos. It's also nice to be back in the Adirondacks because during all my international travels and adventures, I've always felt there were many more trails and waterways and mountains I needed to explore in the Adirondacks; During all my travels, I have realized that I grew up in a wonderful place, and I needed to go back there for some time to explore new places in my backyard, and to develop a photographic portfolio of the Adirondacks to market locally (since Patagonia photos selling on the web aren't all that popular). While growing up in the Adirondacks, and having an outdoor-oriented family, are the two biggest reasons that I love the mountains, the outdoors, and adventure today, I still sometimes feel that I didn't take full advantage of where I lived, and truly got to know [some parts of] the Adirondacks. For example, I recently got back from a 3 day canoe trip to Lowe's Lake, a well known trip that people come from all over to do, that starts 15 miles from my house, but that I had never done before. It's amazing how you travel all over the world to go to neat places, and then you ignore some other nice places right where you live.
On the selling side of photography, I can start to see the light at the other end of the tunnel - from 2 fall festivals/craft fairs in the area, I recieved spellbounding interest and positive comments from people, and yes, sales too. For example, I was thrilled to hear several people express to me how my photography somehow makes them feel like they're in the picture, that's it real, and that few other photographers made them feel that way. I subscribe to a magazine called Outdoor Photographer, and one of the central motifs of the magazine is that as a nature photographer you have to find new ways of capturing landscapes that are often over-photographed, and that as a photographer, in order to be successful you have to find your photographic style that draws people in. I don't have a specific answer of what standards or styles I strive to achieve in my photography, as it's subconscious, but it does seem I am on my way these artistic goals. Everyone is a fan of their own photography, but it's nice to hear such positive comments from other people. Other comments I recieved often were compliments on my composition in the photograph - what I included, at what angle I included it, and at what focal length, and also what I didn't include in the photograph. This same Outdoor Photographer magazine frequently has articles from professional photographers writing that it's important to only include what's important in the photograph, not to include too much, and to Keep It Simple! Well, the panoramic format appeals to me the most, and I often include huge, complicated, and full landscapes covering 200 degrees or more, lots of brush or leaves or trees in the foreground, and huge landscape expanses in the background. I do that so I can print large photographs, so that you can see the detail that was there orginally, so that you feel like you really are there; that you have to search through and explore the photograph, and not just look at a photograph. So I was starting to wonder if I needed to change my artistic composition to make better photographs, and maybe I still do, but I am at least temporaily vindicated in my pursuit of finding new ways and compositions to capture old or familar landscapes. I dropped off an 8 ft. (2.5 meters) panorama of Blue Mountain Lake to a client that owns a family-style lodge on the same lake, and as I walked into the room, [I turned around and nearly wacked my little brother who was following me in the head, because I forgot I was carrying something long, but also] a crown turned their attention to what I was carrying, and followed me into the other room as I set the panorama down and took off the wrapping. And then I had lodge guests crowding around me, all interupting each other as they tried to talk with me individally about ordering a photo for themselves. And when I signed the mounted print in front of everyone, I really felt like a celebrity, or even the president signing some congressional bill that everyone is watching being signed. There is nothing like being able to show in person a real photograph - websites aren't all they're purported to be. So, I was really encouraged by all that interest from these lodge guests too, and again, I felt like photography really could work for me, that maybe I was right in feeling all along that my dad was wrong when he said photography should only be my avocation and not my vocation. I guess right now, as I always have been, I am living my dreams, and I won't have any regrets in the future. I think a lot of poeple live with regrets, though, and people are so supportive of me when they see I am pursueing my passions headlong. I majored in international business in college because I liked being in business for myself in high school when I had that lawn-care business with my friend, and I liked travelling, so I thought international business was just a combination of those two things. In reality, it's more of an education for business persons that want to work hard at a large international company. So after that, I traveled, in New Zealand, Australia, Alaska, Patagonia, all the while trying to figure out what I really should do in life to make a living, while still not compromising my passions. And I believe I've found the answer - photography. So it's more than just living your dreams in the moment; it's discovering how you can live your dreams for life.
I really don't mean to brag here, and it might have started sounding that way in the last paragraph - this email is a sort of diary or blog for me, and explores some of the current issues in my life (it doesn't focus on the negative too much, because nobody likes to hear negative stuff (but we all like to be negative sometimes nevertheless)), in addition to just pure plain adventure and travel. I also hope you, my readers and friends, can glean some thruths to apply in your own lives, in addition to just being entertained, through all my very long monologues. And as a final note, I wish to thank God for his blessings and guidance, despite me not feeling very guided most of the time. And I know my mom prays for me every day, and for my photographic success too, and she say's the interest I received in my photography recently, and the encouragement I received as a result, were things she was praying specifically for, so I want to thank my mom too.