The stories behind some of my favorite photographs
Not far from Maroon Bells - the most photographed mountain in Colorado - is a steep 6 mile trail that rises 2000 feet to Cathedral Lake. As I approached the trail head, the rough terrain and incline taunted me to leave my camera pack, but I knew the parking lot 100 feet from Maroon Bells had made its portrait too easy to take. I wanted a different experience and a different photo. My group hiked for 6 hours through exquisite scenery and remote tranquility. The ultimate reward was this eerie landscape right at the tree line, detailed with tones of rock and algae gently kissed by the late afternoon sun. Gratefully, there's no parking lot for the other photographers.
We often take 'home' for granted, mistaking the intrinsic beauty as 'familiar' and 'normal'. So I make a point to look at my home town through the eyes of its visitors. Traveling is the marketplace for enlightenment, trading experiences to enjoy what "others" have added to the world. A simple moment at the art instillation in Chicago's Millennium Park brings a city famous for being 'second' into the limelight of their attention - an experience to be shared with the world through stories and photos.
I've been watching the digital photo industry transform over nearly two decades. This photo marks a special moment for me when my smartphone camera quality held up to a 16" x 20" print - from a moving car, no less. Before the iPhone 6, my smartphone images were only good under ideal conditions, and even then they wouldn't hold up to printing very well. But even more importantly, this turning point also serves as a reminder that a camera is only a tool. Fancy cameras don't equate to better photos: an interesting subject captured by a mediocre camera is better than a boring subject shot by a $50,000 Hasselblad. So while I am happy to see the tools get better and technology trickle down to phones, these advances won't make a photographer better. Don't judge a photographer by the gear, look at the images!