There are a number of factors. First off, my love for photography really began as a love for travel. As a child, I was blessed to visit the Colorado Rockies quite often, in addition to a few other family trips to Yellowstone and other places. I distinctly remember a trip as a young child to the mountains with my grandparents to visit my aunt and uncle, and driving through the foot hills of the Rockies outside of Denver and thinking how massive they were. We moved to Texas around that time and I didn't make it back to Colorado for 6-7 years, but the lure of the mountains has been there ever since!
In college, I started visiting Rocky Mountain National Park with my dad and brother, and one of my favorite things to do was document the trips with little disposable cameras. Years later, in 2007, I distinctly remember being on a hike with my brother in the backcountry of Rocky Mountain National Park, somewhere between Fern Lake and Spruce Lake. He was in some college photography classes at Friends University at the time. He suggested I get a DSLR and try my hand at it. A few months later, I owned a Nikon D80 and was hooked!
Ever since then, I've been honing my skills, and finding out where my niches are, leading to travels around North America and Europe.
Anyone who knows me well, knows that I pour over Google Maps and research the places I'm going to visit in great detail before going. Sometimes my shooting time can be limited, and so I'm usually looking up where I want to be at sunrise or sunset, whether there's a chance for a great nightscape scene, or any cool waterfalls and hikes to check out that would lend to a great photograph. In recent years, I've been blessed to be able to go on many road trips. I've done multiple 3-5k road trips across the American and Canadian West since 2012, and loved every minute of it. These were some pretty intense road trips. Many of these were on limited vacation time, and so I needed to make the most of my time. Seeing as I love shooting the vivid colors of sunrise and sunset, knowing where I want to be at these times before hand is crucial to my shooting! And then there are other times, where I'll stay in one location for a few days, such as times in Aspen, Ridgway and other spots in Colorado to shoot fall colors. For example, during a good early winter storm at the height of fall colors a few years ago in Aspen, I spent an entire day driving a 25 mile scenic drive to shoot everything I can find, getting out to enjoy area's off the road as much as possible. So while my range of area that I will shoot in a given time can vary greatly, one thing is always constant: I try to at least have a rough plan and research my locations beforehand. That's not to say that the plan doesn't go out the window sometimes. I may have a specific angle of a beautiful beach picked out, shooting to the south, only to find that the best light at sunset is lighting up in the north. This requires me to think on my feet!
I've used a wide variety of camera's over the years to create the images you see here on my website. You can read more about the gear I use on the gear section of my about page.
I obviously use Lightroom and Photoshop for post processing.
In addition to the standard tools like that, I also have a few iPhone apps that are a must for what I do! The Photographers Ephemeris coupled with SkyFire is a great tool for any landscape photographer! SkyFire helps me plot whether a great sunrise or sunset may happen.
Another great tool I use for my nightscape images is SkyMap.
I think it is all up to the photographer. Photography is art. As long as you're being truthful about what you're representing in your image, I see no problems with both sides of the spectrum. Some people take a photo in camera, and leave it completely alone. That's great! Some people use HDR to do some crazy post-processing to their images. That's great too!
My own personal opinion is to try and make an image I publish to be what I saw with my own eyes. This doesn't mean it looks identical to the next person who visits that location, but I try to make an image look how I remember it. I see things in vivid color. I love color. You'll almost never see a black and white image in my portfolio. It's just not my thing. And that's fine. But I love color.
One of the reasons I enjoy my photography so much is the aspect of solitude. Many times when I shoot photos, I go at sunrise or sunset in solitude. Because of my personality and the fact that I'm frequently interacting with others, this solitude re-energizes me. Solitude is a space where I can sink bank into reality. Life is full of pressures and false narratives about what makes a person significant and valuable. In solitude I learn to let those voices subside and tune back into God's still quiet voice.
Simple answer: I don't. I also work as a web designer and developer. It's extremely difficult to make a living as a full-time landscape photographer. Sometimes it just takes a lucky break. And most landscape photographers also do other things for their income (running workshops, teaching photography, selling books, etc.) Running my photography business can sometimes be a second job. But it's my passion. whether it ends up being a secondary business or my primary career, I love it and will continue to do it!
I've been asked on a number of occassions in the past as to whether I shoot weddings, portraits and people photography. My typical answer was no. My passion is travel, landscape and nature photography. However, my wife now runs a wedding, portrait and lifestyle photography business, and depending on the package someone choses, I do second-shoot weddings with her. So in reality, I do now shoot weddings on occassion. My wife, Valerie Shannon, is an extremely talented senior, portrait and wedding photographer, so if you are looking for those services, please visit her website at http://www.valerieshannonphotography.com to inquire more.
Do you have a question not answered here? Feel free to contact me and I'll get back to you as soon as possible!
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