October 31, 2020

Blog #1: my introduction, intention, commitment and journey

A Thousand Words

A thousand words, that is what a picture is worth. From a vast spectrum of emotions to recorded history, a thousand words is a low estimate for the description of an iconic image. I hope my photographs inspire you as much as they do for me. They provoke thought. Unfortunately I cannot afford the time to write a thousand words for every image I’ve captured, but it’s a symbol of what I hope to achieve in my life as a professional photographer. 


I have a full time job as a handyman at a cabin rental program in an outdoor recreation area within Kentucky. For the past 5 years I have been responsible for the maintenance and upkeep of about 50 cabins. During this period I have spent much of my free time hiking, biking, kayaking, camping and exploring the backcountry I love so much. I have also honed my skills as a woodworker, motorcycle enthusiast, home and land owner, along with various other interests. Life is too short to focus on one subject! 

About a year ago I had a surreal experience with river otters inquisitively swimming around my kayak while paddling on the Wild and Scenic Red River. They lingered around us long enough for me to pull out my smartphone and snap a few zoomed in and pixelated photos along with a few likewise videos. That day I committed to buying a quality camera and reconsidered my interest in nature photography from dream to goal. Over this past year I have snapped the shutter on my Canon over 10,000 times, kayaked the river weekly, photographed unique and beautiful images of otters, bald eagles, plentiful wildlife and landscapes, grown my personal business and of course devoured information with a ravenous appetite for knowledge. I am proud of my momentum and have little to regret thus far. 

It is true, I would not be able to develop my business as a photographer without a steady job. Photography equipment is expensive and let’s face it: in this digital era everyone is a photographer. Smartphones take amazing pictures and any yahoo with an Amazon account can buy an entry level DSLR camera and begin posting photos on Facebook and Instagram to get their photos seen by the world. (Yes, I am that yahoo!) So why not be content with keeping photography a hobby and be realistic that becoming the next Ansel Adams or Andy Mann or Paul Nicklen is as likely as getting signed to the NBA.

That yellow border is why. Some of my earliest childhood memories involve my grandparents house and the shelves upon shelves comprising walls of yellow magazine spines made up of decades worth of National Geographic. A family tradition, for most of my life my parents have given me annual subscriptions to the publication as a birthday present. It feels like that yellow rectangle has been a beacon I’ve been heading towards for the past 3.5 decades. One day I will be a contributor. It’s not about the money (or lack there-of) or fame (or lack there-of), it’s about the Life.

A life of peace and beauty, knowledge, nature, discovery, history and sunrises. It’s about floating down the river on a kayak with your best friend and recharging your batteries after a taxing week slaving away at the grindstone. When all else fails, slow down and get lost in nature. Things will start to make sense. If your entire life was encapsulated in that single moment would it be worth it? Is this where you want to be when Jesus comes? It’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey. Ok, enough cliches.

I know who I am. My parents named me Isaac because it means laughter and joy. That’s really all I want out of life. I have learned and am learning a lot of what it takes to sustain those qualities. To me, slowing down, floating along the wild and scenic river with my best friend and breathing it all in is one of my happiest places on earth. Inevitably the day will conclude and tomorrow will bring more work, doldrums, stress and one might forget how enlightening the previous day’s adventure was or wonder if it really happened. With a well taken photograph it is simply proof that moment existed. But it’s more than just proof. Was it a Cooper’s Hawk or a Merlin Falcon? How long were its legs in relation to its body? What color was its beak? What exactly did it’s tailfeather pattern look like? Hey Mom, check out this river otter with an elderberry flower stuck to its nose peering out of the river at me! Mom’s day has just been made. Perhaps a friend with a new interest in the outdoors stumbles across my photo and finds inspiration to take that hike she’d previously considered too intimidating. Maybe the photo of the heron fishing in the river next to a discarded tire will inspire an outdoor lover to participate in the next organized river cleanup event, or better yet, upon realization of the natural beauty in his backyard the local boy will no longer discard his tires on a hillside and take the responsibility to appropriately discard his refuse.

To tell a story of beauty juxtaposed with the damage imposed on Mother Nature by Mankind and a sense of initiative to take better care of our planet is this photographer’s ultimate goal. This blog is a punctuation of that intention.This is my journey, my endeavor, my dream and my goal with which I would like to share with you. I am a newbie. I like to think I’ve always had an artistic eye for detail and a unique perspective on composition and lighting, and I enjoy writing so this ramblin’ is a pleasant start to the day as I drink my coffee in front of the wood stove this frosty morning. What I am new to is the success achieved through my dedication to photography, and it absolutely would not be possible without your interest.

I believe in open source information. The best way to have a good idea is to have a lot of ideas and joy grows as it is shared. I am not secretive about the locations I photo or the equipment I use. So much of my knowledge has been ascertained by others who’ve already gone down this road and it’s a true honor to this artist to have the capacity to pay it forward. I hope you are inspired. If you are not, I might as well stick to my dayjob. You are what this is all about. Your interest is what empowers me to push forward and enable me to stand in the shadows of the great photographers. 

I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for taking the time to read this and believing in me. It is important to me that you know I believe in you too. Don’t be a stranger! I will do anything I can to help you as I know you would do the same for me. It is a great joy to have your friendship and support, without which it would all be pointless. We have to stick together. We’re all stardust and we’re all brothers and sisters. Sure there’s some bad seeds out there but I know in my heart there’s more good apples. Humans are a special type of creature.