Give Thanks

25 Nov
Silk Ribbons :: Ricketts Glen, PA

Silk Ribbons :: Ricketts Glen, PA

As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them. -JFK

Today, and every day, I am grateful for all of the blessings in my life.  I have my health, security, stability and opportunities to improve my life if I’m brave enough to reach for them.  I live in a place that recognizes my basic human rights.

The Hearts Overflows

The Hearts Overflows

I am surrounded by people who love and support me.  I was lucky enough to be born into a family that values things like compassion, kindness, and laughter.  I get to share my life with an incredible man who supports my dreams and enjoys making memories with me.  I literally have the best friends a girl could ask for.

Dreamsong

Dreamsong

I’ve seen enough beauty in this world to make anyone’s heart overflow with joy.  The power of nature, the rain, the wind, the lightning, the cold, the feel of the setting sun on my skin on a summer day, the colors of a dramatic sky, the smell of new grass and lilies, the sound of the ocean, watching children play and people love…

In Wildness

In Wildness

Adventure fills my soul, leads me to exciting places, introduces me to new people and enriches my life in a way that words can only barely describe.  I’m grateful to have wanderlust in my blood, to have had a family that nurtured it, and to now have the resources to follow its call.

Hope Rises

Hope Rises

The world is such a wonderful, frightening, beautiful place filled with an exquisite tapestry of human existence.  Every day I draw breath I am grateful that I get to be a part of it, grateful for the experiences that shaped me and the memories that sustain me.

We Are One

We Are One :: California

Thank you to each and every one of you for being part of my life.  Your support, your kindness, your smiles (or emoticons as the case may be), your love fills my life with so much joy.  You’ve all had a hand in shaping my life and I’m grateful for your influence.

 

Happy Thanksgiving week, friends!  Hope it’s a good one!

 

xoxo

Shannon

The Crown Jewel

18 Nov
The Crown Jewel :: New Hampshire

The Crown Jewel :: New Hampshire

With all of the controversy surrounding the Keystone pipeline, it’s easy to find articles both for and against.  Today, I read one such article that pretty much infuriated me.  For the sake of not poking the bear, I’ll gloss over the details of the balance between money and human rights, but I will say that it – in part – also had to do with the impact of industrial ventures on the environment, and by extension, the people and animals that live there.

It was a strong reminder to appreciate views like this sunset over Cherry Pond in New Hampshire.  The property is just stunning with one beautiful and tranquil view after another.  David and I spent a few hours there and saw only a handful of other people in the parking lot – none on the trails.  I’m so grateful that I live in a region of the country with so much green space, and specifically, I’m glad for the partnership between the Audubon, the state of New Hampshire and the US Fish/Wildlife Service that preserved the Pondicherry Refuge space.  We are already planning a return trip for next year….perhaps you’ll join us? :-)

The Space Between

11 Nov
The Space Between :: Ricketts Glen, PA

The Space Between :: Ricketts Glen, PA

The space between your heart and mine is the space we’ll fill with time. – DMB

I’m starting to think I have a love affair with waterfalls.  Each one is so different, has it’s own character, light, mood and challenges.  (And as you have probably come to realize by now, I do love me some challenges. haha)

This particular beauty is called Oneida Falls, one of three or four falls we stopped at that day.  For me, it was one of those moments where I instantly knew what I wanted my frame to be, and immediately loved the shot once I took it.  That doesn’t happen all of the time.  So often finding the shot is work…you try a composition, adjust, adjust again…  But those moments when my inner artist screams, “Yes!  Here!” I’m learning to listen.  Call it intuition, or more likely, the culmination of years of experience, but I firmly believe that if something catches your eye and tugs at your photo-curiosity, you should explore it.  (I mean, nothing illegal…but you know…other than that?  Thumbs up!)

This particular set of falls was a double win for us…first, we took a few moments to photograph the actual falls.  Then we worked on a surreal portrait series which involved me wading into the water up to my waist and ruining a dress.  Did I mention it was late October??  Brrrrr!  But hey, anything for the shot. lol

That surreal portrait series is currently in the lab over at David Pasillas Photography, getting fairy dust sprinkled on it.  When it’s ready, I’m sure you’ll hear more about it. :-)  One of several top secret projects that we have in the works at the moment! (Life is so good!)
If you like the photo, please share! xo

Shannon

Dreamsong

4 Nov
Dreamsong

Dreamsong

Be still and listen, the Earth is singing.

 

So often, they say that your photograph should tell a story.  You should have a “thing” you want to convey and use your image as a way to do that.

 

Good, advice.  Tried and true.  But what do they say about images that invite you to be part of their story?

 

Let me start at the beginning.  There I was, schlepping around Acadia (my first time there) determined not to create the same old shots that have been done a million times.  Now, given the popularity of Acadia coupled with the fact that I was there with three other extraordinary photographers, the potential for a comp stomp was damn near exponential.  Trying to make something completely new…or completely new to my eyes and experiences at least…seemed like a tall order.

 

Thank goodness I’m never one to back down from a challenge.  (‘Stubbornness’ eeerrr….ummmm…I mean…. ‘Dedication and tenacity’ are part of my charm.)

 

So, there were were, shooting away on the boulder face pictured here, wrapped up in a beautiful sunrise.  Maybe it was the lack of sleep, maybe it was the lack of caffeine…most likely both…but in what felt like no time the tide began creeping back in to shore.  Thankfully David noticed before our route off the rocks completely flooded.  No problem.  Time to go.  Back to the beach we went.  Or, rather, three out of four of us went back.  One of us (not naming any names *cough*Mital*cough*) was so involved in shooting seascapes that he didn’t climb down with the rest of us.

 

Now, as a photographer hanging out with other photographers in a beautiful place, you need to exercise a lot of patience.  If you’re not stopping every 5 minutes, you’re doing it wrong.  Therefore, waiting for Mit…uh…our fourth to finish up wasn’t an issue.  Him getting stuck on a cliff being pounded by progressively higher waves, with no escape route because the tide was up?  Well, that was a problem.

 

So, being the lady of the group, I obviously volunteered to toss their Nikons into the surf while they went to rescue our wayward fourth group member.

 

Um…I mean, watch their stuff.  Yeah.  Keep it safe and sound.  Yup.  *look away*

 

While I was waiting for Mike to find and/or rescue Mital, I looked longingly back at the tree I had been photographing as the sun began peeking above the horizon.  It was so tenacious, making a life for itself out on the boulder face.  I looked at the texture in the sky, and in the rocks.  I looked at the movement of the water across the rocks.  Everything about the scene felt right.  It needed to be photographed.

 

Although I loved the snaps in-camera, it wasn’t until I began the edit that I really felt the magic of the scene come alive.  At first it was just those hints.

 

Damn…that water looks good.  This shot emotes movement.  Is that even possible?

 

The light falling along those lines in the rocks is so dynamic.  I want to touch them.  Again.

 

That path!  Its calling to me, that siren, daring me to explore.

 

That was about the time I realized, my image was begging the viewer to be part of the story it was trying to tell.  I don’t know what that’s called, but its a spectacular feeling.  It’s like accomplishment, white chocolate and fairy dust all rolled into one.

 

It’s surreal, really.  Like a dream.  ………Hence, “Dreamsong”.

 

(And that, my friends, is the story of how I didn’t throw Mike’s camera into the ocean.)

 

This is just one of 5 images I put together for the ongoing “5 day black and white challenge” on the FB.  Are we friends yet?  I’d really like for you to see the rest of the pictures. :-)

Hope Rises

28 Oct
Hope Rises

Hope Rises

“When you arise in the morning, think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive – to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love.” – Marcus Aurelius

 

In the news this past week, I’ve seen powerful images of the people of West Africa who have been devastated by ‘the Ebola’, NYC gripped with fear, polls suggesting we close our borders to countries in need (which is reactionary and virtually impossible to enforce in today’s international society), three separate attacks on the brave people in uniforms that keep the citizens of Canada and the US safe and the pain of another community affected by a school shooting.  CNN is a total bummer.

 

With media being what it is, and the state of our world being what it is….it is so easy to feel overwhelmed and helpless in the face of all of the negativity.  “ISIS!  Ebola!  and YOU! ” It’s easy to fall prey to the fear.  If you let it, fear will drown out the voice of logic that tells you not to worry yet.  You’ll want to close yourself off, wall yourself into a little room and wait until the problems disappear.  And that’s just in the global community.  What about your own personal life?  Your own problems?  Work is tough, or worse yet, work is slow.  Your son needs braces.  Your cat just passed away.  Your debt seems insurmountable….  RUN!  Run away!  If I ignore it long enough, it will go away, right?

 

Wrong.  In my experience, that rarely seems to work.  I’ve never known a problem to solve itself.  At least…not in a way that favors me. haha

 

Every day we wake up is a blessing.  Every morning that we draw breath is an opportunity to improve ourselves and the life around us.  Yes, the world is full of problems.  Yes, our day to day is full of problems.  But if you focus on the problems instead of the solution, you’ll never rise above your current situation.

 

At one point, a few years back, I came to a cross roads in my own life.  My problems and anxiety piled up.  There were moments where facing anything except the inside of my eyelids seemed monumental.  But I had a realization.  In the grand scheme of things, my life wasn’t so bad – I had a job, which some people couldn’t say.  I had a roof over my head, which some people would give anything for.  I was a free female living in a country that recognizes basic human rights.  I told myself, “it could definitely be worse.”  I started to focus on the things I did have and that moment, when I chose to be the master of my own life, changed everything.

 

It didn’t happen all at once, of course.  First it was changing my thoughts.  I focused on the positives and suddenly I didn’t feel like I was drowning.  Before long, I began to feel empowered.  Dreams?  Pffft.  Like problems that don’t solve themselves, dreams don’t come to pass without work.  I didn’t have dreams, I had goals.  Once I began seeing what my hard work could accomplish, it became easier to see that the changes in my own life were affecting the people around me.  It was easy to see that strength and generosity walk side by side.  Every part of my life became better and the people around me benefited because of the power of hope.  Seeing that there was room for positive vibes in my life gave me the strength to shape my life into something special.  I just had to be willing to be the change I wanted to see.

 

Be strong.  Take another step.  Believe in yourself.  Be loud.  Be compassionate.  Let’s shape our future – the world’s future – into something special.

 

Every day that the sun rises, hope rises.  Shine on. <3

 

This image was taken in Acadia National Park while out exploring with my friends, Mike Mezuel, Mital Patel and David Pasillas.  They are rad dudes, and inspiring photographers.  Please check their work out.  And if you aren’t already doing so, make sure to follow along on my instagram or twitters or the facebooks…a lot of behind the scene shots from these sort of adventures end up there.  Like that time we….oh…nevermind.  *look away* ;-)

A Moment in Time

23 Oct
A Moment in Time

A Moment in Time

I’m not going to lie.  There is something pretty special about being able to wake up to this sort of magic outside your cottage door. This was sunrise on Lake Winnipesaukee, New Hampshire a few weeks back. :-)

 

If you like it, please share it!

Interview with Jamey Pyles

21 Oct

A few months back, I stumbled upon Jamey Pyles 500px page, and was immediately in love with his work.  Images that moving are rare for me these days.  Despite my affinity for his images, however, I struggled to put together this interview.

 

Jamey’s work is striking.

 

Magical.

 

His pictures make me want to take a walk through a wild mountain and appreciate the unbroken beauty of an untamed landscape.

 

But how do I put that into words?  What exactly is it about Jamey’s work and philosophy that draws me in as a viewer and a fan?

 

I think it is the sense of adventure I feel when I look at his images.  On his website he says, “I capture photographs with the intent to share the beauty I see out there with the world and to remind people of the natural world that modern society has all but left behind. These motives stand behind my ambition to create art that is personally meaningful to my lifelong journey.” There is a true freedom in that notion.

 

The idea of using art as a way of bringing awareness, as a potential tool for preservation…it’s a sexy, romantic notion. Photography used as both a creative outlet, and a tool for the greater good.  That’s how one starts a legacy.

 

But…that isn’t the whole story.  It isn’t just Jamey’s idealism that I’m drawn to.  It’s his images.  It’s his locations.  It’s the quality of his light.

 

One of the side effects of the world being so accessible is that it is difficult to find something new, to create something that stands out in the crowd, captures my attention and holds it.  I won’t deny, there are a lot of incredible images of Antelope Canyon, of the turquoise lakes in Banff, of the Eiffel Tower and of the Great Wall…but they’re so frequently photographed, that I couldn’t pick one particular artist’s version out in a crowd.

 

Jamey’s work appeals to me because it’s new, it’s fresh, and much of it is so well edited and composed, I can’t help but pause when I’m flipping through his portfolio.

 

But hey…this interview isn’t about how I feel about Jamey’s work.  It’s about how Jamey’s work came to be.  So let’s get down to the questions, shall we?

 

First, and most obvious question…

How did you get into photography?

 

I was introduced to nature by my parents through backpacking in the very impressionable years preceding elementary school. At our go-to location in the Three Sisters Wilderness, I glimpsed into another realm of the world that eventually would come to mean one of the only realities in my life. There I confronted the rational and irrational fears and undertook adventures throughout those early years — we went on the trip for 4 days each summer. These first encounters with the woods sparked a continually growing interest in the natural world. The first subject that really drew me into photography was waterfalls. I was enamored by the long exposure and how it painted water so beautifully. There didn’t seem to be much purpose in those days, but that was perfectly fine. I was a young guy super engaged in my hobby of making images that captured these waterfalls. It was always more than just photography, though, because I routinely would go to places completely off the beaten path or with very difficult access even if there were no known ‘comps’ of the place done by other photographers. Gradually the horizons grew. Its been about 6 years since I first started using a camera.

 

 

There is a definite evolution among your images as you developed a style that works for you.  For the benefit of all of our new photographers out there, can you talk a little bit about the journey to find your own style?

 

Some of it was learning the tools better. But most of finding my style was not a conscious choice, but rather, allowing my ambitions to seek, and letting my art follow. My themes and subjects have changed over time, but consistently my journey has taken me to places that have one key ingredient: I seek out landscapes that are uncorrupted by man, and that alone has become the passion. Making art that can point the focus back to the landscape is my response and it is my ultimate challenge. It comes second to the experience, hands down. Now, I’ve photographed so many things that I have a backlog at least a year and a half long.  There are many experiences I have captured that I know will never make it to my public portfolio because I feel that it is important that the experience remains mine and mine solely. I don’t feel obligated to share, but when I do, I like to post in a meaningful order, generally not chronologically. Right now on my desk I have a scrap envelope that has scribbles of ideas relating to what I should edit and post online next. I’m just now coming out of a hard and very busy time and I am trying to focus more on my art and less on this BS we call ‘real life’.

 

What led up to the Kickstarter idea, and eventual book and calendar you published?

 

That spurred from my first experience in the Oregon desert with a wise old friend of mine. I was just blown away at the diversity of the landscapes and the fact that nobody knew that there was beauty to be found in such a place. So that progressed into a project that became sort of an expose’ on the beauty of the natural landscapes of eastern Oregon. Originally the end result was going to be the portfolio of images I would make. On top of that, I would make a book to go with it, that was mostly pictures, and a few essays/stories. But as I started to get my thoughts on the page, I couldnt stop writing, and all of a sudden I had 30,000+ words to deal with along with all of the photos, and the book became the biggest focus. The book’s themes became self discovery, and the meaningfulness of nature, with a side of adventure. If one was to read it solely for the adventure aspect, one would likely be disappointed. The finished work is 90 pages with full color images throughout.

 

The whole experience of brainstorming, fundraising, and fulfilling a project was very enlightening. I also went way over budget, saw so many amazing things, and most importantly, was left with the uncanny and disturbing knowledge that I had only scratched the surface. I learned that saying “I want to capture it ALL” was very foolish. Were I to do it again, I would focus more deeply on a smaller area or single subject.

 

All of the calendars I have made and published have been separate to the project. I’ve been making them every year since 2009. Last year I made the calendar for 2014 focussed on the Great Basin which is partly in eastern Oregon. You can find that and more info on my book on my website (www.jameypyles.com)

 

 

How has that experience of traveling to and capturing some of the lesser known sites of the Northwest affected your outlook on life?

 

This is a hefty question, because it has defined my existence in a way. It wasn’t “That Experience” from the Eastern Oregon project but rather the whole pathway to get there, and then the continuance of the journey forward from there. I’ll attribute its relative meaningfulness to my age at the time, in the transformational teen years, and also the amount of energy I was able to focus into it. Experiencing nature like that so young has directed my focus away from other things that most teenagers are into. I was never interested in engaging in high school life beyond classes. I spent my senior year of high school writing my book instead of pursuing scholarships, honors classes, parties, girls, whatever. In essence, my experience with nature correlates in some way with everything that I count as meaningful in my life currently.

 

Nature has quieted my spirit, it has allowed me to see the relative vanity of human existence and has challenged me to look deeper – look for purpose; search for answers even if the answers may always be beyond reach.  I think the project specifically helped me develop my voice, in photography and in my writing. I have continued writing, but it is more focussed on prose and expository than narrative. Other than journaling, I feel that narrative has become very shallow for me considering that there is no story proposition like there was when I went forth to write that book. Now I’m just a simple guy that really digs nature.

 

Screaming Skies - www.jameypyles.com

Screaming Skies – http://www.jameypyles.com

From a marketing perspective, what are your thoughts of selling shots of unknown locations versus known locations?  Have you had much success?

 

I’ve learned that if you want to sell images, you’ll likely want to look in other places than the wilderness. Not that you can’t do it, but that it is beside the point. It is far easier to sell photos of places that people know. In my case I have pretty much stopped trying to sell prints, due to my focussing on other things; projects, personal life, etc. I guess I have had some success in the last several years, but the result was never more than a few hundred bucks here and there. In the foreseeable future, I wont be able to make enough money on selling images. I hope to make a living related in some way to photography/outdoors, but right now I am trying to gain some traction, working as a landscaper. I hate marketing. It puts me in the wrong headspace… But it is a necessary evil.

 

 

Any advice for new photographers trying to make a place for themselves in the world?

 

Don’t try to make a place for yourself in the world, rather find the place you already are in and let your art be a venue for self discovery rather than self promotion. You can not effectually influence others unless you are grounded in yourself. I have found the most meaningful place in the world for me is the most irrelevant place as well… A high place where I can look out on an expanse and see no evidence of human existence, where to all perspectives but my very own, I am nothing.

 

That is me. Find out who you are, and make your art for the sake of you, and it very well could stand above the crowd.

 

Silver Lining - www.jameypyles.com

Silver Lining – http://www.jameypyles.com

Any other notable accomplishments or projects you want to talk about?

 

The most current is that I just married my other half just a few weeks back. Hanna and I are so happy together and I am looking forward to a lifetime of adventures with her. The wedding consumed all of my free time so I hope to be able to get back into the swing of things now that we are getting settled in.

 

Back in September of 2013 (it hurts to think this was already a year ago), I packed all of my needed belongings into my jeep and moved to Reno, Nevada to work with a wilderness advocacy group called Friends of Nevada Wilderness. My job was wilderness inventory; I would set out for a week at a time with a partner and look for Wilderness characteristics in some pristine Nevada landscapes. We tracked all routes around and into these wild areas, documenting characteristics according to BLM national standards for Lands with Wilderness Characteristics. The intent of the organization and my outings were to permanently set aside these wild areas as Wilderness (with a capital W), meaning that the landscape can not be used for material gain (logging, mining, building, etc) and that it will remain publicly accessible as it is currently, into the future. There is a lot more to it than I have time or space to write about, but I will gladly answer questions anyone has.

 

I did this work from September into November, when it started snowing and the days became too short for my work. I learned some incredibly valuable lessons while discovering the potential of Nevada. I felt incredibly blessed to work and be paid doing something that I loved to do, essentially camping with a purpose. I saw so many incredible things – deep canyons, incredible rock formations, endless high mountains, blazing fall colors, desert sands and rhythmic patterns, and so much more. Thanks to this job and many other outings in 2013, I spent just about 100 nights in the outdoors. When I returned to Oregon’s winter I felt pretty empty, and although I still have yet to land another job along this career path, I’ve again and again found solace alone in the desert and in the high mountains of my home state.

 

I’m searching constantly for another opportunity like this one, but it is likely I will follow some more of my own projects first. I’ve got a few major ones in the works but these are at the beginning stages.

 

 

Best way to contact you?

 

My email, jameypyles@me.com, or through my website, www.jameypyles.com, where you can find my gallery and a bit more about me. You can find my page on facebook, Jamey Pyles Photography, and also on 500PX.

 

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