My photography is a quest to capture short-lived moments of brilliance. Working in remote, mountainous environments, these moments can be incredibly brief. From the annual changing of the fall foliage, to the first snow of the season, to the first few rays of light that illuminate the mountains every morning, each of my images captures a momentary, unique, and transient occurrence.
I think of every photograph I take as a once in a lifetime opportunity, and feel lucky to have been able to witness these moments in person. My images represent the fleeting glimpses of intensity that occur in the ever-changing alpine world. Each photograph is a transformation of that fleeting moment into an enduring, physical work of art.
I'm not entirely sure how I ended up becoming a photographer. It was a slow, gradual process that seemed to flow naturally from my love of the outdoors. Years of hiking, climbing, and skiing through the mountains presented me with ample opportunities, and the camera has always been by my side. I like to tell people that I became a photographer because it allows me to justify all of the time I "wasted" over the years. But the fact is, while it may not have been a conscious decision, I like to think this has been my plan all along.
My photographic process involves waking up early, staying out late, hiking in the dark, and occasionally getting lost in order to catch the dramatic lighting on the landscape. I sit and wait. Sometimes for hours on end. Often, it is rather cold. I sleep in the snow, on top of mountains, or sometimes not at all. And on 75% of those days, my camera doesn't even come out of my backpack. But every once in a while all of that work pays off, and I am able to capture something that I feel is truly worthy. Each image involves quite a bit of patience, timing, and luck.
The equipment I use to capture my photos is quite simple. The most important piece of equipment I have is a reliable alarm clock, followed by some decent hiking shoes, a bright headlamp, and occasionally a map. Food and water are also somewhat important, though I can get by without them.
For camera equipment, I have a sturdy tripod and a set of graduated neutral density filters. The images are captured using either a medium format film camera, or a modern digital camera. Beyond that, I try not to pay much attention to the technical aspects of my camera, as I strongly believe that equipment is irrelevant.
I am almost completely self taught, having taken only two photo classes in high school, and possessing a college degree in something completely unrelated. Instead of formal training, I have gone the route of trial and error. This has involved spending countless hours in the mountains, doing what I love. And just as many hours spent pouring over photographs, figuring out how to get better.
During the winter, my time is spent on skis, climbing mountains with friends and shooting photos along the way. The snow is what brought me to California, and backcountry skiing
still remains my favorite pastime. In 2008 I co-authored a guidebook on the subject (Backcountry Skiing California's Eastern Sierra
), and that is essentially what propelled me to where I am today.