It is not very hard to see how someone could enjoy making photographs of the beautiful mountains of Colorado. With 53 mountains rising above 14,000 feet in elevation and 584 additional peaks rising above 13,000 feet, Colorado is an absolute mountain treasure-trove with photographic opportunities in all directions.
My addiction to Colorado mountains started at an early age, having been lucky enough to have parents who valued the outdoors. My father Ray was in pursuit of climbing the highest 100 mountains in Colorado dating back to the mid-1970s and began taking me on easier hikes as early as age 4 when I ascended my very first 13,000-foot mountain. I climbed my first 14,000-foot (or 14er as we like to call them) when I was 6-years-old and had summited over 20 of the highest 100 mountains in Colorado before I was 10-years-old.
I don't share this information to make myself look awesome - it is simply context for what I want to share in this article: How my deep and early connection to Colorado mountains and my experiences in those mountains have shaped who I am as a photographer today in my 40's.
After years of not doing much of anything in the mountains and after far too many hours spent in front of a computer screen playing video games, in late 2008, I made a commitment to finish climbing the highest 100 mountains in Colorado beginning the following spring. At the time, I did not see myself as a photographer at all - rather, I was just an outdoor enthusiast with a huge passion for the Colorado mountains. I did own a camera though - a relatively nice Sony DSC-828 - an 8 megapixel camera released in 2003 with a fixed 28-200 lens attached to it. I brought this camera on all of my hikes in 2009 and 2010 and documented each and every mountain climb in detail through photographs with the intent to share them on a blog site for my friends and family to check out. In that two-year span I climbed 48 peaks and gained an even deeper love for Colorado's mountains.
Each climb and subsequent view from the summit was meticulously documented by my camera and saved to my blog for posterity. Through this process of documentation, experiencing amazing places, and learning my camera, I grew more and more fascinated by photography and it's potential to tell stories and take other people to share in the experiences I had been so lucky to be a part of. From the summits of each peak, I could make out the summits of other mountains I had climbed and was immediately taken back to those adventures from the view.
This realization was a seminal moment for me in my photography. Each photograph from the summit told countless tales of other adventures, hikes, backpacks, and friendships I had made along my journey and the power of these images in representing those experiences was solidified and memorialized.
Some of my favorite landscape photographs showcase views that have 20-30 mountains in the scene that I have climbed and by looking at the photograph I am fondly taken back to those experiences, those moments, those stories, and those emotions. I also believe that this is why I've been such a staunch proponent of more "representational" or "natural" landscape photography - it is due to how I value my own landscape photography as being a gateway to my own experiences in my past. In fact, I helped create a new landscape photography competition aimed at recognizing and rewarding similar landscape photography as I often see it being drowned out by more fantasy-like images that can't and don't represent place or experience.
As of July, 2021, I've climbed over 200 mountains here in Colorado and hope to keep doing so for a very long time. Each summit has the ability to transport my mind to relive those great moments I've experienced in these magnificent Colorado mountains. Thank you for coming along for that journey.