As an artist primarily trained in traditional mediums such as charcoal, watercolors, and oil paints, I have always used photography as a supporting element to my work. That’s not to say that you can’t buy stand-alone prints of my photographs, or that I don’t respect photography as its own fine art discipline. I just want to be clear by stating that I would not consider myself a professional photographer. Then again, I wouldn’t actually call myself a professional artist, writer, or graphic designer either. Although I am technically all of these things since I do get paid for my work, I just consider myself an independent artist who likes to combine elements from different disciplines in order to create something unique.
This is essentially what all artists do to one degree or another.
Photography does play a major role in my work, but the images I capture are not usually the final products in and of themselves. Instead, I mostly use photography for the following three purposes:
- Gathering reference material
- Capturing images for use as design elements
- Documenting experiences and events
For example, over the past few years many of my projects have revolved around imagery, history, and information about Lake Tahoe and the surrounding Sierra Nevada Mountains. One project that comes to mind is the coloring book I produced called Color the Tahoe Rim Trail.
In 2014, I spent 10 days thru-hiking the entire 172-mile length of the Tahoe Rim Trail. During that time, I documented the journey using a high-resolution point-and-shoot camera that I kept at the ready on my hip belt. For two years afterward I couldn’t decide how I wanted to use the photos and information I had gathered on the backpacking trip. But in 2016, I finally committed to making a coloring book out of the experience. So, all of the coloring book’s illustrations are directly based on the photographs I took during the hike. I also published a blog post, complete with a photo gallery and information about the journey, on my Lake Tahoe-oriented backcountry website called Tahoe Trail Guide. In addition to using many of the photographs to help me identify and learn about the flora/fauna of the Lake Tahoe region, I did use one of the pictures in an advertisement I designed for the backpacking store I used to work at in South Lake Tahoe.
Without the use of a camera, creating a project such as Color the Tahoe Rim Trail would have taken a lot longer to complete and probably would have manifested in a far different form than its final design. This doesn’t mean that it would’ve been better or worse without the use of a camera. I’m simply saying that the camera plays a role in my artistic process and workflow beyond being used primarily to take high-quality photos to print and sell.
Long story short, I have no intention of ever trying to become another Ansel Adams, Annie Leibovitz, or even a commercial photographer who takes great wedding and high school graduation photos. But if you need photos for your website, company advertisements, or you just want some high-quality photographic documentation of an event that most people would consider as being less than life-changing (i.e. your trip up the Rubicon Trail or your kid’s soccer match), contact me.