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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photography, travel

LOCATION PEEK // HIDDEN WYOMING

Many of you will undoubtedly know the location of which I am about to showcase. It’s not exactly a secret. However, it is a little less well known than many other places, and I am more and more convinced with each passing day that we must start guarding these places a little bit better.

The more Ellen and I travel, the more we are seeing many of our sacred places being desecrated. So, I will continue to educate folks as best I can on the outdoor etiquette I’ve learned over the years… as well as keeping our special places a bit more secret. Honestly, it’s much more enjoyable to stumble on some of these places anyway, or to learn about them from a local you chatted up over a beer. I miss those days, anyway.

So heres my newest subject of obsession… a Wyoming mountain range of unparalleled beauty.

I had the pleasure of exploring a small section of these mountains for the last week, and I was blown away at the opportunities. This is going to require a lot more of my attention moving forward.

I did a fair amount of dirt road driving. Not enough hiking, as the weather was quite moody and rainy.

At times, I was reminded of the Pacific Northwest, among other areas. But I suspect the time of year had a lot to do with it. Late June up here is still very much spring weather. In fact, the roads were so muddy most of the time we were there, four wheel drive was absolutely necessary.

But if you’ve been following along a while, you know that I love dramatic weather. It can be hit or miss, sure, but when the beam of light hits, the storm clears briefly, the fog rolls in just so… you get the chance for magic. And if you happen to be in a magical place such as this when the magic hits… ahhhhh.

Thats what I live for.

— Andrew

If you enjoy my work and want to grow in your own photography, consider joining me in one of the most magical places at the most magical time of year… Fall in the Tetons! I have a few spots left, and I’d love to share some of my secret locations with you as we explore the light, landscapes, and the incredible wildlife. For more info and to sign up, CLICK HERE!


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photography, travel, workshop

AUTUMN FEATURE: THE SAN JUANS

Autumn is just around the corner, and as you all know, it’s my favorite season. The color and the drama are incredible, and as I’ve mentioned before so many times, I have a few favorite spots that I hit up every year in the fall.

This week, I wanted to feature the southern San Juans of Colorado, and more specifically, the Telluride area.

I’ve been visiting this little piece of heaven for 25 years now, and it never disappoints. Even in the years when I miss peak, it presents me with  something amazing to behold.

The uniqueness of the area, I think, lies in the combination of high elevations and lots of aspens stands. Because of the elevation, geographic location, and boxed in nature of the area, it tends to get a lot of snow in the winter. That’s why it is considered one of the best ski areas in the country. But also, it means that the colors typically catch fire in the fall because of high precipitation values leading up to it.

The vistas one can experience here are simply unparalleled. National Forest public land access is great, allowing for the leaf peeper to cover a lot of ground in a short period of time.

But another cool aspect of the area is catching the first snow. Typically in late September/ early October, the first significant winter precipitation hits and it often coincides with the peak color. The drama of the weather and contrast of the fresh dusting is my favorite!

And the colors aren’t at all limited to the autumn spectrum. The deep purples and blues, and even greens are still abundant even at that late time of year. It’s really spectacular.

And then the skyfire! Pinks, reds, orange, you name it. Every color in the spectrum is displayed in this gem of a location.

I’ve been exploring the area for a long time, and many of those years as a pro photographer. The last 5 or so, I’ve been leading intimate workshops for those interested in being led to some amazing spots and growing in their love for art, nature, and photography.

Oh, and it should also be mentioned that Telluride has some exquisite restaurants and bars, as well as shopping and spas, so we really get to pamper ourselves and even relax a little during this dynamic and exciting time of year.

Every time I visit Telluride and the southern San Juans, I find new nooks and lovely compositions. It really never gets old.

If this looks like a place you’d like to see and explore, let me guide you through one of my favorite places on the planet! We will learn, grow, experience awe, eat amazing food, and genuinely have a great time together. If you’ve ever wanted to just hang out with a professional photographer and get the one on one time to ask all of your burning questions, this is your chance.

I have just a few spots left for 2020, so check it out on my website and sign up for the experience of a lifetime.

— Andrew


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education, national parks, photography, travel, workshop

FALL IN THE TETONS

The Teton Mountains are, to my way of thinking, quite the grandest and most spectacular mountains I have ever seen.. .When viewed over the vast expanse of sagebrush which covers the valley, or with Jackson Lake and the marshes in the foreground, they present a picture of ever-changing beauty which is to me beyond compare.” ~ J.D. Rockefeller

If you have ever seen the Tetons, you probably remember that first time, cresting the hill coming up from the town of Jackson, WY. Or the harrowing, windy descent from Togwotee Pass. Maybe from the air, as you landed at the incomparably beautiful Jackson Hole airport. Or even perhaps from the flat plains of eastern Idaho. Whichever way you came to experience this dramatic mountain range, the first glimpse was likely unforgettable.

Well, I can truthfully say, that even 20+ years later, I am still in awe with nearly every approach.

I call the Tetons my “home park”, because for the last two decades I have lived close, or spent months out of every year up here, studying the many faces and the seemingly unending bounty of Grand Teton National Park.

Aside from the incredible landscape photography opportunities, the Tetons, and forests and mountains, are some of the absolute best places in the lower 48 to {almost} be guaranteed to see iconic western wildlife. Grizzlies and wolves are in steady increase, and the herds of bison, pronghorn antelope, elk, and so much more are in abundance. It’s even pretty likely one might see a fox, coyote, badger, owl, bald eagle, golden eagle, osprey, moose, and more.

This is why I love this amazing place.

In the fall, when the leaves begin to change, the air grows crisp and cool, and the animals begin to prepare for the long Wyoming winter, the photographer is in for a real treat. Everything becomes dynamic and quickly changing. Nothing at this time is at rest or stasis. Not the weather, not the animals, not even the mountains. Snow storms blow through just atop the peaks leaving a contrasty dusting of white against the graduated shades of granite.

It is a spectacular time. My favorite time, in fact.

I hope you find inspiration through my words and photos of this unique time in such a uniquely special place. And I do hope you will consider joining me and a small group of other fun photographers this September 24-27, 2020 to explore together and grow as artists, in my backyard.

— Andrew


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photography, travel

ON THE ROAD: AN UPDATE

Oklahoma in the spring is awash with color. New shoots on budding branches green with rebirth. Skies of complex and ever-changing hues of blue, then textured white, then glowing pink and orange. Reflective water, mirroring the hue shifts of the sky. The daily ebb and flow of wildflowers, constantly changing like the tides, indiscriminate, showcasing every color of the visible (and invisible) spectrum. And the deep, earthen red-orange dirt exposed directly adjacent to the vibrant grasses and sedges exploding with renewed life. It’s fragrant out here.

It’s mid-May as I sit to write. Things are beginning to open back up, but the second wave of a global pandemic still looms as an inevitable possibility. So much has changed. 

The holidays in Dallas were what they were. A smattering of good and bad. Great to see friends and family, communing with those we love dearly and don’t see nearly often enough. But as I’ve mentioned, the city wears both of us down. And this year in particular, we experienced the loss of another beloved friend. I’ve mentioned the untimely passing of my dearest friend in Wyoming in September, and then on new years eve, the Colonel, Bubba passed away quietly under the bed in our guest room at Ellens folks. Ellen called him a dear friend for 16 years. He and I mostly tolerated each other, with brief moments of affection throughout my dozen or so years with Ellen. It was hard on her though. The end of an era. We buried him in a secluded corner of their backyard with a lovely candle lit service, and said our tearful goodbyes to him, and our family.

We spent the winter soaking up the sun, sand, and salt water in Florida again solidifying, potentially, our new dream, or next step. More on that later.

We filled our days with further exploration into new territory, as well as deeper into old favorites. I started a section hike of the Florida Trail, with a harrowing two-day 32 mile hike through knee deep south Florida swamp (the full story on my blog). I also was inspired to create a new Big Cypress workshop for 2021, as well as a few other brand new locations. 

As March rolled closer to April, the coronavirus, and fear from a lack of knowledge and highly sensationalized news, took over. All of our state and national park reservations were canceled out from under us, and jobs were postponed or canceled outright. The world, to most everyone, looked a bit more uncertain. But for us, not too much more uncertain. Let’s be honest here… Ellen and my life for the last four years has been a dress-rehearsal for many catastrophic scenarios. And here we are; lean, mean, and ready for Broadway.

As the cliche goes, when God closes a door, He opens a window. Well, when we had no where to go, no where to park Gertie, we jumped through the proverbial window and booked it for my brother’s in Chattanooga, TN, just before the world went on total lockdown.

We figured we would be there for a week or two. Then the Easter night tornado tore through the neighborhood just 100 yards from where our ultra-lite trailer rested precariously in their driveway. It was a terrifying experience for us, but we were the lucky ones. Many in Chattanooga and surrounding areas lost their lives and their homes that night. We just lost power for a week.

My brother, who is a pastor helped coordinate community service in the weeks proceeding. I helped with my chainsaw to cut neighbors trees and remove debris. No social distancing was possible in the wake of tragedy on top of tragedy. But the little we did was dwarfed by the response of the kind people of the whole area. They poured in to help, and truly made quick work of the devastation. Certainly not all was magically fixed, but the show of love and acts of kindness helped to heal a severely broken community.

We ended up spending the end of march, all of April, and the first few days of May parked at my brothers in Chattanooga. It was a special time of connection with family that we don’t get to see as often. Family dinners, games every night, hikes, basketball in the driveway with the kids. We will cherish that time, in spite of the pandemic quarantine and tornado destruction.

We even had the chance to sneak away a few times to the nearby Appalachian mountains of North Carolina to get a little car camping in. Replete with campfires, smores, hiking, swimming in freezing creeks, pipe tobacco smoke, Tolkien essays, etc. All the good stuff.

I received word that a few of my clients wanted to proceed with shoots that were intended for early March, now the first week of May. One in north Louisiana/ Arkansas, and the other in West Texas. I was overjoyed that the jobs didn’t disappear. We were really counting on that income. So we planned our route, and said more bittersweet goodbyes to the ones who embraced us so fully and graciously for over six weeks. We would miss them dearly. But as is often the case for us, it was time to move on.

With the volatile economy, I haven’t been sure what to expect, since much of my business depends on tourism. However, my workshops have started filling up again, and I am hopeful that we will pull through. 

So here we are now, in the ever warming days of high desert New Mexico, boon docking on a reservoir near Raton. The winds and dramatic spring storms kick up the dust and bring to the nose notes of cattle, and hard western living. We have planned and replanned and rerouted our next steps so many times, even I’m getting little confused as to what’s next. But its looking like we will explore and backpack the nooks and crannies of our beloved Wyoming next, and then up into Montana to revisit Glacier National Park. 

As we approach our four year anniversary of life on the road in early June, we look back with immense gratitude. Ellen and I both laugh and roll our eyes whenever either of us starts to look at the pictures and videos in our phones. It is a multi hour time-warp. We get completely lost for hours remembering the amazing adventures we’ve had. All on a broken wing and a heartfelt prayer.

Our next step is foggy, but seems to be coming in to focus more and more daily. It may be time for us to plant some roots, somewhere. Where exactly, were still deciding. But we’ve both come to the conclusion that we need a proper home base. The prevailing leader of the pack is Florida, at this point. Low taxes, warmth, beaches, gorgeous land, wonderful and interesting creatures to find, and it already feels a bit like home. My first choice was and is always Wyoming. But the winters are too long and brutal. We would prefer to continue our tradition of spending the milder months up there, while soaking the sun and warmth elsewhere the rest of the year. Nothing to prove here.

The last we left things, we were seriously considering buying the shuttle business in Wyoming after running it last season. That fell through and both Ellen and I are actually relieved. We realized we weren’t ready to share our time with a new all-consuming business. We have our own businesses that still need much tender loving care.

But what we learned from that experience, is that we are ready for a change. And this time, perhaps, a more grounded change. We don’t plan to leave the road until 2021. We want to finish our (potential) last year on the road strong.

— Andrew


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BIG CYPRESS // OFF-THE-BEATEN PATH // LANDSCAPES + WILDLIFE
TELLURIDE // FALL COLOR // LUXE LANDSCAPES
GIFT CARDS
Give the gift of beauty, travel, and knowledge… buy a gift card. Help a small business.
The Photographic Guide to Our National Parks” series of eBooks:
Rocky Mountain National Park
Grand Teton National Park
PRINTS
Andrew Slaton // Limited Edition Prints
Andrew Slaton // Canvas + Metal Prints
STOCK
Tandem Stills + Motion // Andrew Slaton
ASSIGNMENTS
andrew@andrewslatonphoto.com
Thanks for visiting AndrewSlatonBlog.com
All images and content © ARS Media, LLC 2020
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