The Weight

“How do I get my backpacking bag to weigh like this?” That was the question Dana posed as we carried little more than water, rain jackets, and bear spray on a recent day hike in the Tetons. A few weeks prior to that we had done our first backpacking trip of the season and despite the hikes relatively moderate distance, we sluffed off our packs with a groan and shoulder rub both days. As we continued on our day hike around Jenny Lake, we discussed what reallyconstituted essentials and what some options were for lightening the load, including the promotion of an all Pop-tart meal plan and forgoing the tent for some slumbering under the stars.

Suddenly it dawned on me that through the discussions of sawed off toothbrushes and tentless sleeping, I completely ignored the most obvious poundage in my pack, camera equipment! I switched to a mirrorless system about a year ago in part because my DSLR was so dang big to be hauling around the mountains. Now granted when you pack in an extra lens, batteries, ect. the weight savings is debatable, but having a more compact system has certainly made it easier and more convenient to haul gear into the backcountry. There are still some tweaks and adjustments that I can make (or if Peak Designs wants to send me one of their amazing looking travel tripods!) to keep the weight down on the camera side of things, but once we are high up on the peaks or settling into a lakeside camp for the evening I’m usually more than happy to have my gear. 

As we continued on the trail I agreed that lighter would be nice, especially on certain trails. But at the end of the day isn’t an evening by the lake more enjoyable with a Pop-tart, cocktail, and game of backcountry bocce? I certainly think so.


So here we are, a website. MY website. Oh crap, does this mean I’m an actual photographer? Maybe, maybe not. I suppose that is up to all of you to decide. The reality though is that I’ve finally decided to listen to my mentors, shake off the imposter syndrome, take the leap, and do more to get my work out there. A website seems so obvious when I say it, but yet it has taken me a while to get here.

Like other photographers I could tell the story of my first camera and catching the photo bug, bla, bla, bla. What really drew me into photography though were the amazing images published in magazines such as Outside, Adventure Journal, Bike, and Powder. Once all the articles were read, I would revisit an issue over and over again drawn to the stories that the photographs themselves were telling. If you asked me who my favorite photographers were and I’d run off a list of shooters behind the lens of those full page gallery shots. As exciting as outdoor photography got me, I didn’t consider it something that I could seriously pursue. As the son of a creative professional I saw first-hand the effort and struggle it takes to make it happen. So as the years past I steered towards other interests to pursue in my formal education and career, with photography remaining an on-again off again hobby.

A few years back I found myself at a cross roads in almost every aspect in my life. While sitting at my old wood office desk in my parents’ basement (the only piece of furniture I still owned), the proverbial lightbulb went off in my head. “$#%& it” I thought, I’m going to photography school! So I (re)packed the truck with a summer’s worth of cloths, gear, and the dog, and headed to Montana. There at the Rocky Mountain School of Photography in Missoula, MT I met and studied with the most talented, enthusiastic, and supportive instructors. By the end of the summer I found my confidence level in my photography skills higher than I ever had before.  However, I still found myself reluctant to say I was a photographer. The thought of jumping in full title still felt out of reach and extremely scary. So I went back to my day job - which for all intensive purposes I actually like.

Two years after I finished that summer program, I attended the school’s 30th anniversary workshop. Like a parent reminding you to do your chores (but with enthusiasm and a smile), the instructors re-emphasized the importance of getting your work out there. It was exactly the kick in the butt I needed. Since that weekend I’ve tried to lean into my photography more, entering photo contests, being intentional about practicing, and working on creating photographs that get me as excited as those I spent hours poring over in the magazines.

Which brings us back to here, my website and my first blog post. More than likely if you are reading this you are a) my dog b) a Russian troll or c) an insomniac searching for the end of the internet. Whichever the case, thanks for stopping by. In future posts I plan on sharing some of my experiences and stories behind the photographs I’ve created and share here.

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