Winter Warmth

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I love this image, Winter Warmth, although I may love the memory of this morning even more. This is one of those pieces that has a special place in a photographer’s heart. Well, it does in mine anyway. The reason being, is the fable-like humor surrounding the image. This shot was taken at a very popular photography location in the heart of the Canadian Rockies. There were several other photographers there. All of whom were lined up and focused on the “postcard” like scene of the mountain peaks in front of them.

I was there too, but I saw something that apparently no one else saw. Directly behind the scene that all these other guys were shooting was a landscape that was so stunning it blew my mind. I think a lot of young photographers see an image in a book, in a magazine or on a website and they become so focused on capturing that same scene. They fly thousands of miles to the location, get up early set up their camera gear and snap away at the same image they saw somewhere else.

Of course, I was there to see the same scene too, and although I know that a landscape like that one was beautiful, when I get to a location I always try to scout it out first and find a new way to shoot it. The morning of this shot I didn’t even get a chance to photograph that scene that everyone else was shooting. Instead, when I took my approach I saw something even better that had been neglected by a dozen other photographers.

When I give workshops, one thing I tell my students is to make sure you’re always on the lookout for an interesting perspective. Look up, down, high and low, turn around and find an interesting way to tell the story. The kicker with Winter Warmth was that the sunrise that all these guys were waiting for was a bust. There was barely any light, clouds were thick and the sky was bereft of color. Meanwhile, I knew I had a good composition 180 degrees from where everyone else was shooting.

I didn’t fire off one shot that morning at sunrise. Instead, I waited. When everyone else had packed up their gear and left, as the sun got a little higher in the sky and the shadows were below the mountain I was looking at, pinks and purples starting coming out and the reflection was epic. The snow on the lake was perfect and the little bit of fog that was hanging there in the tree line was magical.

I was ready. My frame was set, and I clicked off several shots. With no one around to share it with, I just chuckled as I knew this was a special moment.

The Accolades Arrive

I usually only enter an image into one photography competition a year. This was one of four pieces I chose to enter into the Professional Photographers of America’s 2016 Western District Competition. It was well received, earning a seal and being automatically entered into the International Photographic Competition, one of the most prestigious photo competitions in the world.  Winter Warmth did well there too, earning a merit and being among all four images that I entered receiving awards. This particular piece helped me earn a Silver Medal in the competition and is my favorite piece from an amazing trip to Canada.