photography, random thought, travel

A REVERSAL OF OPINION

These days, most of us dig our heels in on the hottest issues. We rarely listen to the other side. We wait and formulate our counter argument, while we pretend to listen to the opposing view.

I assure you that I am no better. Nine times out of ten.

Let me briefly talk, though, about that one of ten moment. Well, I should say more accurately that I had a slow u turn.

Years ago, I wrote an article titled, To Share or Not To Share. I still hold to the majority of the stances and claims in that post. However, I have made a complete about face on the sharing issue. As many of you know, I am pretty libertarian. And sharing is a matter of choice, so I remain libertarian. But I do not think that sharing locations is a net positive any more, so I will no longer share locations publicly.

What I have witnessed on the road the last four years is degradation and disrespect for many of our special places. Places that deserve respect. Places that to us, and many before us, have been and are sacred. Do I have such a following so as to think that I am to blame for this? Of course not. But our over-sharing culture (of which I have been a direct participant) is. It saddens me that we, at this point in time, lack personal responsibility, but I unfortunately have to come to terms with this.

Many have argued this point for years, and I hoped they were wrong, but I now realize they were right all along, and I was naive and wrong.

I hope all of you will understand that if I do not personally know you, I will not under any circumstances share locations with you, and I suggest you do the same. I am even incorporating NDAs (non-disclosure agreements) into my workshops to ensure the safety and protection of these areas. I believe in being personally responsible on my part, so I don’t have to rely on laws and stricter regulations. I would prefer it this way.

Now, with all of this said, there is some positive to come out of this. And it is that we can now return to the good old days of finding places by studying maps, striking up conversations with locals, hours of in person scouting, and stumbling upon hidden gems. It really is a better way to explore anyway. There is nothing wrong with working a bit harder for the shot!

Please do let me know your thoughts in the comments below…

— Andrew


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education, photography, random thought, writing

Photographic Trophy Hunting

“For me, it’s not enough to leave it up to authorities and governments. I believe in personal responsibility, first and foremost.”

A thought occurred to me recently as I was contemplating how to make my workshops better for my clients… There are a lot of photo enthusiasts and pros out there nowadays that are essentially “trophy hunters”.

You might be wondering, what is a photographic trophy hunter? It’s an individual who sees an image on social media or the internet, and travels to that location to come away with their own social media “trophy” shot.

Now, don’t take that the wrong way. Obviously, actual trophy hunting is not a very well-liked practice by the public these days. I’m not equating the general idea that many folks looking for the trophy shot are somehow shallow or calloused. It’s much more nuanced than this.

What I mean to say, is that even with actual hunting, there are positives and negatives to this trophy-type approach. First positive, hunters are one of the most conservation minded groups out there. They bring in massive amounts of cash that goes directly toward furthering conservation efforts all over the world. In fact, many species have been saved by the efforts and financial support driven by hunters. But trophy hunting clearly also has it’s draw backs.

For one, it feeds a desire to destroy, with little regard for the “why”. Notice, I didn’t say with no regard. In subsistence hunting, there is a clear why. Sustenance. Food. Clothing. Tools. Etc. There is so much that can be done with a deer, elk, moose, or other game species. Now, there are other reasons of course for hunting; population control, strengthening of the species, human rites of passage, etc., that reach symbiosis when coupled with utilizing the entire animal. Mismanagement (at all levels) and illegal poaching are the biggest concerns.

In the realm of photography, the same is true. The dollars brought in to local tourism are undeniable and absolutely necessary. Also, the awareness created through the sharing of these beautiful places, in theory, causes a broader audience to care enough to support protecting these special locations. However, the increased interest leading to the degradation of many of these incredible locations seems unstoppable, simply due to the sheer numbers of trophy seekers. That’s not even to mention the uneducated, or simply those who don’t care beyond their own desires who end up destroying places.

I see it first hand everywhere we go these days. I’d like to think it’s just a matter of educating people into proper outdoor etiquette, but I’m increasingly afraid that there are many folks out there who just don’t think beyond themselves, in this Instagraming culture we’ve created. And what that breeds is two things; closures of public places (which I despise) or destruction for no good reason (which I despise even more).

In each of my workshops, there are undoubtedly trophy locations that all of my clients desire to see and photograph. It is understandable. There are many great reasons why these places have become legendary. However, as a tour/ workshop leader, I do feel a responsibility to educate and minimize our impact. For me, it’s not enough to leave it up to authorities and governments. I believe in personal responsibility, first and foremost.

What this has caused me to begin to do in recent years is to seek out the “off-the-beaten-path” locations. The places I used to frequent, for instance Snake River Overlook (as pictured below), I rarely visit anymore. I have opted away from the easy locations, for the creatively challenging. And though it is markedly less fruitful at times, it is most rewarding to my soul and sense of adventure. And at the very least, it takes one person away from the crowds at these trophy locations.

There is a potentially harmful issue though that arises from this approach as well… at least with the “trophy locations” they are already well known and we as a society can mitigate the risk to the environment at these places more easily. But if we introduce more “off-the-beaten-path” spots to more and more people, they become less “off-the-beaten-path.” In an effort to self regulate, I have incorporated non-disclosure agreements (NDA’s) into my workshops, so folks legally cannot share the locations. I know it seems heavy-handed, but I’m adamant about keeping some places sacred.

Over the years, I have changed my tune on the whole sharing locations issue. And I think we all have continually evaluate, re-evaluate, and re-re-evaluate our long held beliefs on how things are and how they should be. We have a drastically changing society and landscape out there, due to technology and social media. Some of it good, and some of it catastrophically bad.

But to me, just like with nearly any issue, it all comes back to the individual. To you, and to me. Personal responsibility.

If we want things to change for the better, we have to live it for ourselves, and educate others with truth and love. Photographic trophy hunting is an important issue we need to tackle head-on, but it’s really just the tip of the iceberg for a society increasingly less responsible for our own actions, and more dependent on government or authorities to do the jobs we all should be doing. It doesn’t mean we shouldn’t have official regulatory practices and entities, it just means that for these regulations to work (and not shut the public out completely), we have to take responsibility for ourselves first.

What are your thoughts? I’d love to know what you think about this issue. Have you seen the affects on our public lands, or special places that you love? Comment below and let’s keep the conversation going!

— Andrew


SPECIAL OFFER for my blog followers – 10% off everything by using code “BLOG10” at checkout
VIDEO TUTORIALS
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NEW WORKSHOPS

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INTO THE WINDS // BACKPACKING + PHOTOGRAPHY ADVENTURE
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photography, random thought

NEW SITE, NEW FEATURES

It’s been several years since I’ve done a complete website overhaul. Just the thought of it caused a slight panic attack… there’s so much to do. We’ll, after months of plugging along at it, I’m happy and proud to announce a completely new me! At least the website version of me.

And it’s so much more than just a new look. I’ve added new workshops, I’m adding new print products monthly, I have a tutorials section now, free stuff, gift cards, etc. I think you all will find it simplified, easy to navigate, and just an overall nice shopping experience.

I would love for you to go check it out. And if you feel so inclined, please purchase a gift card. Right now, I have 25% off everything, so you can get a dollar for every 75 cents you spend!

Thanks so much, and let me know what you think.

— Andrew


N O M A D  Magazine // Issue 1
Order your copy today and receive this 100 page full color travelgasm at your door!
Want to learn photography and enjoy a guided experience? Check out my exciting, NEW workshop dates:
INTO THE WINDS // BACKPACKING + PHOTOGRAPHY ADVENTURE
GRAND TETON // FALL COLOR // LANDSCAPES + WILDLIFE
TELLURIDE // FALL COLOR // LUXE LANDSCAPES
I’m excited to announce The Photographic Guide to Our National Parks” series of eBooks:
Rocky Mountain National Park
Grand Teton National Park
If you are interested in purchasing a “print from the road”, please check my prints for sale, or email me directly for a custom request:
Andrew Slaton // Limited Edition Prints
Andrew Slaton // Canvas + Metal Prints
If you are interested in licensing any of the images/ video from this post, please visit my stock agency:
Tandem Stills + Motion // Andrew Slaton 
For assignment work requests, please email me: andrew@andrewslatonphoto.com
Thanks for visiting AndrewSlatonBlog.com!
All images and content © ARS Media, LLC 2020
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instructional, random thought

STAYING HEALTHY, CHANGING HABITS

As we all face the unknown prospects of a COVID-19 global pandemic, rather than panic, we can see this as an opportunity to disconnect a little, and reorient our priorities. Changing some unhealthy habits, into healthy ones.

Health is much bigger than simply washing our hands properly and social distancing. Our bodies are incredible machines, and what we chose to put in them makes a big difference in their performance. But overall health is even bigger than this… we must focus on our mental health too, if we want to make it through a crisis such as this.

Just before this crisis began, through the help of Ellen, a close friend, and a book I read, Atomic Habits by James Clear, I began making some health and lifestyle changes in my life for the better. It has been hugely helpful to my mental and physical health, and I’d like to share some of what I’ve learned. I am by no means an expert, I’m simply along for the ride just like you. But I have acquired some helpful tips that think worth sharing.

I want to list out a few points and explain a little here. Some of this will seem quite obvious to many of you, but I hope that all can glean something.

First, we should definitely do what’s right. And what’s right is to follow the advice of medical professionals for simple ways to “flatten the curve.”

  • Wash hands thoroughly.
  • Practice basic good hygiene.
  • Stay home as much as possible, distancing ourselves from others.
  • Cover your mouth when you cough.
  • Avoid contact with high risk individuals, for their safety.
  • Think of others when you have to go out.

These are the CDC recommendations. They are certainly a great place to start. But by no means should we end there.

For general good mental and physical health, might as well start some excellent habits now, when we need them to potentially survive, like:

  • Eat foods rich in vitamin c and iron, like spinach every day.
  • Exercise. It helps activate and strengthen your immune system.
  • Spend time in nature daily. It’s really good for your mental health.
  • Practice deep breathing. This will relieve the stress and anxiety, as well as boost your immune system.
  • Call your friends and family. Make it a point to call a different person you care about daily to check on them. Especially while we are in the self-quarantining phase of this epidemic. Loneliness and isolation can be hugely detrimental to mental health.
  • Unplug. Don’t simply use this time to binge watch show after show or play video games for hours on end. Try simply reading or playing a broad game with a partner.
  • If you are religious, pick up your bible. Pray. Feeling connected to God actually affects your brain chemistry, not just your spirituality.

Now, this all sounds great, but how do we turn these into habits that we take with us long after this pandemic (hopefully) slows down and cools off? This is where the advice of my wife, my friend, and the book come in handy. Because let’s face it, all of these things are good for us to implement into daily life, except of course the extreme social distancing.

First, we need to identify what we want to accomplish by implementing these new habits. You can also look at it like this… what negative aspect of your life do you want/ need to change? I find either way works. So for example, I realized that I had gained weight and didn’t like how I felt. I was also struggling through depression, and not seeing any progress. So I began to list good daily habits that I could employ for my life to change this.

  1. Exercise
  2. Eat healthier
  3. Pray
  4. Read
  5. Sobriety

Simple, right? Well now we will dive into one example, and how to make it into a habit. You can apply it to all the new habits you want to create.

Let’s start with exercise. It wasn’t that I didn’t exercise. Or even that I didn’t exercise often. I needed to make it a daily habit, so it was almost automatic, and so my body would crave it. So first I identified what exercise specifically I could do anywhere, anytime. Take away all barriers. Don’t say, “Go to the gym everyday” if that’s unrealistic for you. Pick an activity that you have no excuses not to do. And then if you want to go to the gym on top of the other activity, great. Bonus.

Next, plan out your week on Sunday afternoon, and put your exercise on the calendar for each day that week at the optimal time. That time can even change from day to day, depending upon your schedule. Just make sure you PUT IT ON THE CALENDAR. Say out loud, “I will [behavior] at [time] in [location]. It really is important to be specific and to speak it. Studies show that you are much more likely to do something if you say it aloud and it is on your calendar.

This is making your new habit obvious. In Atomic Habits, the next steps are to make it attractive, easy, and satisfying. I highly recommend the book so you can get repetition, and deeper insights into each of these. For my purposes here, I will make things simple.

So how do you make it attractive? I’ll just use one example here that I find helpful, but there are several others in the book. Pair an action you want to do with an action you need to do. As most of you know, I have two Australian shepherds. They need a TON of exercise. So I have paired their exercise, which is an action I need to do, with my exercise, the action I want to make into a new habit. They begin to crave that certain time of day when we go for a run, and I am starting to as well.

Next, make sure you make it easy for yourself to accomplish this daily goal. Simply remove the roadblocks that may get in the way. Get the right equipment, make that time sacred, reduce the friction.

Now you can make it satisfying. Exercise in itself ends up being satisfying if you stick with it. You feel better and look better. But early on, you may have to entice yourself with other “treats” to get to that point. I am a list maker. I get supreme satisfaction from crossing something off my to-dos. So that’s one way I gain satisfaction. I also have an insatiable sweet tooth. So I allow myself a small treat of four peanut m&m’s when I’m done with my run. Even a small treat like this can really help motivate you and make your new habit satisfying in the beginning, when it kinda sucks.

Let this whet your appetite to begin making some changes. While we’re all stuck inside, away from others, let’s make positive changes for ourselves. We can chose to see this trial as a catalyst for change. An excuse to come out better than we were before.

— Andrew


N O M A D  Magazine // Issue 1
Order your copy today and receive this 100 page full color travelgasm at your door!
Want to learn photography and enjoy a guided experience? Check out my exciting, NEW workshop dates:
INTO THE WINDS // BACKPACKING + PHOTOGRAPHY ADVENTURE
GRAND TETON // FALL COLOR // LANDSCAPES + WILDLIFE
TELLURIDE // FALL COLOR // LUXE LANDSCAPES
I’m excited to announce The Photographic Guide to Our National Parks” series of eBooks:
Rocky Mountain National Park
Grand Teton National Park
If you are interested in purchasing a “print from the road”, please check my prints for sale, or email me directly for a custom request:
Andrew Slaton // Limited Edition Prints
Andrew Slaton // Canvas + Metal Prints
If you are interested in licensing any of the images/ video from this post, please visit my stock agency:
Tandem Stills + Motion // Andrew Slaton 
For assignment work requests, please email me: andrew@andrewslatonphoto.com
Thanks for visiting AndrewSlatonBlog.com!
All images and content © ARS Media, LLC 2020
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photography, random thought, writing

METAMORPHOSIS: PART 1

Originally posted on December 15 at the Red River Paper Blog.

I’ve learned that stagnation often seems to be the natural state of humanity. But this is not how people thrive… it is merely how one survives. And Ellen and I need change.

Light changing as the sun drops behind the Tetons in our summer/ fall backyard.

Dallas in December is a crap shoot. For many reasons, really. First, the weather is often all over the place. Blustery and in the 40s one day, and the next, 75 and sunny. It wreaks havoc on my allergies. Also, we spend most of the year away from the masses and when we arrive in Dallas for the holidays, we are bombarded with work, social events, and family.

The breakup on Jackson Lake occurs with the changing of seasons from winter to spring in May and June.

Have I mentioned that we have 11 nieces and nephews between Ellen and myself? Well, with all those human interactions, not to mention those with illness-incubator kiddos abounding, I always get sick. Weakened immune system from under-exposure the rest of the year or simply the time of year, who really knows what’s to blame. Regardless, the holidays are a time of warm reception for us, but also extreme exhaustion.

I’ve escaped to Lake Whitney in central Texas, where Gertie is parked, to write this episode and recover from the busyness of city life.

“Have I lost the ability to live in the city?” I ask myself this question every year. I grew up in a city, but I’ve always felt drawn to the rural, quiet life. As time passes, I feel much more at home in our little Wyoming town of 2,000 than in the urban/suburban sprawl of nearly a million-and-a-half I’ve called “home” for 30ish years of my life.

With the ushering in of spring, deep greens and blues are the dominant colors of the landscapes in Wyoming.

The reason I bring all of this up is simply that as I reflect on the last leg of our nearly four year journey, this theme keeps surfacing: city vs. open country. The change seems inevitable for us.

Life on the road is not as romantic as you might think. I was criticized by one reader of this blog early on that I focused too much on the trials and disappointments of our new, transient life. Fair denunciation. Maybe I focus too much on the negative. Perhaps the struggle is a bit more interesting to some of us than the vapid mountaintops. I tend to think we learn more from failures than successes.

But it is abundantly accurate to say that the highs we experience on the road serve to inspire us and remind us that life does, in fact, grant us beauty and reprieve as well as truth and trial. So let me give you a little of both.

Light glides across the landscapes of Wyoming, constantly changing.

Our view from Gertie for much of May and June this year.

A mountain bluebird perched with the Grand Teton as a background.

Snow was falling in Wyoming last May when I wrote my previous installment. Spring is basically a more dramatic yo-yo-ing version of winter and it lasts through June. We agreed to manage (with the option to buy) a small tourist shuttle business for a friend this summer.

Great Outdoor Transportation Company (GOTCO) has been servicing our little area of Wyoming since ’97, shuttling people and their vehicles throughout the Wind River mountains, anglers up and down the Green and New Fork Rivers, and tourists and locals alike to and from Wyoming airports.

The dramatic metamorphosis of the Wind River Range in spring.

Skye darts into a seasonal pond created by the massive amount of runoff.

As summer begins to take hold, lupine abound across the prairie.

The momentarily changed landscape, scarred from the Boulder Lake fire of 2019.

Our home for the summer near the Wind River Mountains.

There was a ton of work to do to get ready for the season. Vehicles to buy, insurance to set up, employees to hire, marketing/ social media strategy, not to mention just learning a new business. It was a wee bit stressful for us, mostly because we weren’t used to moving at any pace other than our own.

But Ellen and I also had to learn how to be business partners, which created challenges of its own. I also realized I would have to set my own photography business aside for a time to focus on this new venture. What happened next gave us a whole new skill set and was far more rewarding than we ever thought possible. [To Be Continued in Part 2.]

–Andrew


Ellen and I hit the road full-time in June of 2016. We are on a mission to inspire and educate everyone on the importance of getting outside. Check out my workshops and my prints. The revenue will help propel us further on this great adventure. Enrich yourself and others… and feel great about it too as you’re helping to ensure our public lands are cherished and to keep the wild spirit of the American Dream alive. Our goal is to visit all 60 National Parks in 3-5 years. We are currently in year 4 and half way thru the Parks. LEARN MORE ABOUT WHAT WE’RE DOING HERE



N O M A D  Magazine // Issue 1
 
Order your copy today and receive this 100 page full color travelgasm at your door!
 
Want to learn photography and enjoy a guided experience? Check out my exciting, NEW workshop dates:
 
EVERGLADES // LANDSCAPE + WILDLIFE
BIG BEND // WILDFLOWERS + STARS
GRAND TETON // FALL COLOR // LANDSCAPES + WILDLIFE
TELLURIDE // FALL COLOR // LUXE LANDSCAPES
 
I’m excited to announce The Photographic Guide to Our National Parks” series of eBooks:
 
Rocky Mountain National Park
Grand Teton National Park
 
If you are interested in purchasing a “print from the road”, please check my prints for sale, or email me directly for a custom request:
 
Andrew Slaton // prints from the road
 
If you are interested in licensing any of the images/ video from this post, please visit my stock agency:
 
Tandem Stills + Motion // Andrew Slaton
  
For assignment work requests, please email me: andrew@andrewslatonphoto.com
 
Thanks for visiting AndrewSlatonBlog.com!
 
All images and content © ARS Media, LLC 2019
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