#findyourpark | Mount Rainier

Mount Rainier National Park… There is noting small or obscure about this central Washington state treasure.  It is named for it’s highest and most prominent summit, Rainier. I had the opportunity to spend a few days here in August, and it immediately captured my heart. The park’s beauty is completely mesmerizing.
Ascending to 14,410 feet above sea level, Mount Rainier is absolutely iconic amidst the landscape. An active volcano, Mount Rainier is the most glaciated peak in the contiguous U.S.A., spawning six major rivers. Subalpine wildflower meadows ring the icy volcano while ancient forest cloaks Mount Rainier’s lower slopes. Wildlife abounds in the park’s ecosystems (According to NPS.gov).

Mt. Rainier National Park is only about a two hour drive from Seattle’s SEATAC international airport and 3 hours from Portland, so it’s easily accessible from anywhere in the U.S.

sunset over mount rainier with wildfire smoke

sunset over mount rainier with wildfire smoke

sunset over mount rainier with wildfire smoke

sunset over mount rainier with wildfire smoke

stars and perseids meteor shower over reflection lakes and mount rainier

The stars are spectacular from up near Paradise.  There are several lakes around this high area that are accessible by paved road and have several benches to just sit and marvel at the night sky.

sunrise over mt. rainier

sunrise over the peaks surrounding mt. rainier

sunrise over the peaks surrounding mt. rainier

silhouette of a man in front of Mt. Rainier

Bordering the National Park to the South and East is Gifford Pinchot National Forest. Named after the turn-of-the-century conservationist and politician, this National Forest is nearly 1.5 million acres of gorgeous forests, rivers, and mountains. And there are dozens of free (or cheap) campsites. Some even just outside the borders of Mt. Rainier National Park.

Camping in Gifford Pinchot National Forest

Camping in Gifford Pinchot National Forest

The scenic Ohanapecosh River to the South of the Park, in Gifford Pinchot National Forest has many incredible campsites for those seeking the beauty and solitude of nature.  A wonderful reprieve from the seemingly unending crowds of the nearby National Park.

The scenic Ohanapecosh River

National Park tip #1: Many of our parks are directly bordered by National Forest land.  If you want to save some $$ and avoid the crowds, plan to get a campsite here instead of inside the park.

The scenic Ohanapecosh River

The scenic Ohanapecosh River

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Trees and leaves

Trees and leaves

Lit Nemo Equipment tent on the Ohanapecosh River

Lit Nemo Equipment tent on the Ohanapecosh River

Mount Rainier National Park is unique because of it’s proximity to so many beautiful areas. Heading south east out of the park toward Yakima, you can see unparalleled vistas from White Pass. Coming down from the pass you’ll hit Rimrock Lake, a beautiful area for recreation and food.

Rimrock Lake

An eerie sunset over Rimrock Lake near Mount Rainier casts yellow and red from the nearby forest fires

early morning fog and trees

You’ll be reminded many mornings that you’re in the wonderfully moody Pacific Northwest with eerily beautiful fog. It’s not so helpful when you’re trying to photograph Rainier though, so be sure to a lot yourself more evenings than mornings to ensure you get the shots you want. It can be a tough area because of the often wet weather. But with that bad weather can come some really magical photographs.  So don’t be discouraged!  Make sure you prepare for the elements and for your patience to be tested.

early morning fog and trees

 

early morning fog and trees

early morning fog and trees

Mount Rainier is one of the “must see” National Parks in the U.S.  It offers excellent opportunities for incredibly scenic drives, hiking, and mountain climbing. Most of the roads are open from late May to early October and all provide really stunning views and access to trials and historical sites of interest.

For photographers, whether active or not, there are so many opportunities! If you are not much of a hiker, the main roads provide some of the most killer spots like Reflection Lakes, near Paradise, or the amazing morning shots from the Sunrise/ White River area.

 

If you’re more ambitious, you can even summit Rainier or several of the peaks around it.

Mount Rainier National Park deserves a few days at a minimum. It is very large and one of the most photogenic landscapes I’ve seen. I can promise I’ll be going back for years to come!

Please let me know you thoughts and experiences about Mt. Rainier in the comments below. And let me know what other kinds of information would be helpful to you in these posts… I have a bunch more coming soon…

— andrew


 
Take your photography to the next level… check out my exciting, NEW workshop dates:
 
Big Bend NP // Night/ Landscape // 2016
Isle of Skye // S C O T L A N D // 2016
Highlands // S C O T L A N D // 2016
 
 
If you are interested in licensing any of the images/ video from this post, please visit my stock agency:
 
Tandem Stills + Motion // andrew r. slaton
 
If you are interested in purchasing prints from this post, please check my prints for sale, or email me directly for a custom request:
 
andrew r. slaton // photographer // prints
 
For assignment work requests, please email me: andrew@andrewslatonphoto.com
 
Thanks for visiting AndrewSlatonBlog.com!
 
all images and content © ARS Media, LLC 2015

Photographing // Tents

Yeah, it’s a thing.  And if you follow me on Instagram, you know that I clearly enjoy it.

Photographing tents in amazing places is trending on Instagram and other social media outlets, and for good reason… it makes for incredible, eye-catching images and it’s really fun.

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Recently, I’ve begun experimenting with the sources of light inside the tent… but when I began, one might say it was a little less calculated and a bit more haphazard.

One of the first times I made a ‘lit tent image’, it was almost accidental.  I pointed my camera in the direction of Squaretop, and intended to do a ghosting image of Ellen and I getting into the tent.  The image that was created would send me into an obsession that has really paid off…

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In many ways, it is simply a means to document some of the cool places I have laid my head.  But when I started getting serious stock and print inquiries from these images I realized I was on to something.

Man hiking up to a winter campsite overlooking Fremont Lake in Bridger National Forest, Wy

Social media would blow up every time I posted one of the tent shots, and I began to notice they were showing up all over my Instagram feed from some of my favorite photographers.  Something in these shots was resonating with people.

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Dusk, colorful sky, and lit tent under a silhouetted Nugent Mountain

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So I began doing them all over the world and experimenting a bit.

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I’ve used everything from cruddy headlamps, to Canon Speedlights, to my Dynalite strobes. And at this point, I’m not set on one method… I know I have a bit more searching to do to find the one best lighting solution that is compact and lightweight enough to take deep into the backcountry when backpacking.

Any recommendations are much appreciated :)

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But one of the things that I have learned over the years of experimenting is that your best bet is to shoot your tent shots during the blue hour. It is the hour +/- just after the sun has set, or just before the sun rises.  I prefer the evening blue hour because it seems to have a quality of light to it that is better to photograph.  But also because you have the daylight first, which allows you to more easily compose your image before it gets too dark. You get to ease into the shot.

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The blue hour is the optimum time for your artificial light to match the exposure and desired color temperature with the sky.

Dusk at Sparks Lake

Lit tent on the rim at Crater Lake

Lit tent on the rim at Crater Lake

But even if you wait a bit longer, you can get the stars in the shot, as an added bonus.  But beware, it is more difficult to match the exposures, so it may take a little experimentation.  If you have the ability, turn your lights down several stops.

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Knowing all of this, the first thing you need to determine is your composition.  It is best to figure this out during the day when it’s light out.  Once you have a composition you like, it’s time to think about where the best, most compelling placement of the tent will be.

Camping in Gifford Pinchot National Forest

The example above is actually where I slept.  But recently, I’ve been setting up the tent just for dynamic shots, like the ones below.  I did not venture to sleep where the tent was in the four images below.  Sometimes the best shot is not also the best place to camp. And the best, most comfortable place to camp does not always make for the most interesting shot.

Lit Nemo Equipment tent on the Ohanapecosh River

Lit Nemo Equipment tent on the Ohanapecosh River

Lit Nemo Equipment tent on the Ohanapecosh River

I hope sharing what I’ve learned is helpful and hopefully inspiring. But it is a process, and I will keep refining my craft.

The sun sets on the Pacific and a tent campsite with beautiful displays of color

I’ll keep you all posted as I learn more. And feel free to comment below if you have experiences or recommendations of you own to share!

Until next time…

— andrew


 
Join me on an amazing adventure… check out my NEW workshop dates:
 
Big Bend NP // Night/ Landscape // 2016
Isle of Skye // S C O T L A N D // 2016
Highlands // S C O T L A N D // 2016
 
 
If you are interested in licensing any of the images/ video from this post, please visit my stock agency:
 
Tandem Stills + Motion // Andrew R. Slaton
Image Brief // Andrew R. Slaton
 
If you are interested in purchasing prints from this post, please check my prints for sale, or email me directly for a custom request:
 
Andrew R. Slaton | photographer // prints
 
For assignment work requests, please email me: andrew@andrewslatonphoto.com
 
Thanks for visiting AndrewSlatonBlog.com!
 
all images and content © ARS Media, LLC 2015
 
 

#findyourpark | Great Sand Dunes

I’ve been visiting so many National Parks lately that I thought it would be a fun idea to feature a park every quarter or so. And though I have many on my list that I know much better than this one, I want to start with this smaller, more obscure destination: Great Sand Dunes National Park & Preserve in southern Colorado.

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It’s a tad bit out of the way from most routes you might be traveling, but the extra hour or two driving is worth the views and activities. Nestled in the San Luis Valley, your closest major airport is Colorado Springs, but there are several small, regional airports nearby as well.

Driving in from the south, you may be thinking to yourself, “Where is this grand landscape already?” It’s quite unassuming, until… out of nowhere… the massive Sangre De Christos mountains rise up.  And then the dunes become visible too.

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I’m clearly approaching this from a photographer’s perspective, so I can give you a good many reasons to visit with your camera, but this park offers so much more.  If you like backpacking, 4×4 driving, swimming, dune surfing, hiking, camping, nature programs, star gazing, etc., you are in for a treat!  For more info on all of that, visit the official website.

For the photophiles out there, this park does not disappoint.  Disclaimer: I have only been twice and both stops at the park were honestly an afterthought.  So I have lots more to explore. However, from what I did see, there is great potential.  From the main road heading in to the park several shots jump out with the amazing views of the Sangres in the background, the tallest dunes in North America stacked in front, and Serengeti-style plains with sparse vegetation in the foreground. Wildflowers bloom in varieties from Spring until late Summer, and wildlife roams freely in view.  So there are many opportunities right off the road at sunset and sunrise.

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As you travel in further, and even hike the dunes some, new opportunities arise.  Some that you truly cannot find anywhere else in the U.S.  “Fording” Medano Creek is the first great shot you can play around with after you park at the dunes and begin to explore. I love the contrast of the parched dunes, rising mountains and the cool, clear running water.

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Often, you can get shots of active people enjoying all that nature has to offer… Not a ton on my quick trips, but I know dune surfing is really popular here and even swimming, when the creek runs high.

There are several trails that take you up into the sub-alpine and alpine ecosystems, so if mountains are your thing, you’ll be whistling all the way up to the alpine lakes and scree slopes.

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There are all sorts of little gems to find here that make for wonderful foreground elements.  And when the weather hits, it can really put on a show! I lucked out and caught one of the most spectacular sunsets of my entire three week road trip on my last night at Great Sand Dunes…

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This park is relatively small, but it has been added to my list of ‘must sees’ because of the amazing contrasts found in this spectacular landscape. There’s really so much more to explore with this park, so I hope this is an encouragement to you and me both to get out there!

— andrew


 
Take your photography to the next level… check out my exciting, NEW workshop dates:
 
Big Bend NP // Night/ Landscape // 2016
Isle of Skye // S C O T L A N D // 2016
Highlands // S C O T L A N D // 2016
 
 
If you are interested in licensing any of the images/ video from this post, please visit my stock agency:
 
Tandem Stills + Motion // andrew r. slaton
 
If you are interested in purchasing prints from this post, please check my prints for sale, or email me directly for a custom request:
 
andrew r. slaton // photographer // prints
 
For assignment work requests, please email me: andrew@andrewslatonphoto.com
 
Thanks for visiting AndrewSlatonBlog.com!
 
all images and content © ARS Media, LLC 2015

Neutral Density Filter Basics

— andrew


 
Take your photography to the next level… check out my exciting, NEW workshop dates:
 
Isle of Skye // S C O T L A N D // 2016
Highlands // S C O T L A N D // 2016
Big Bend NP // Night/ Landscape // 2016
 
 
If you are interested in licensing any of the images/ video from this post, please visit my stock agency:
 
Tandem Stills + Motion // andrew r. slaton
 
If you are interested in purchasing prints from this post, please check my prints for sale, or email me directly for a custom request:
 
andrew r. slaton // photographer // prints
 
For assignment work requests, please email me: andrew@andrewslatonphoto.com
 
Thanks for visiting AndrewSlatonBlog.com!
 
all images and content © ARS Media, LLC 2015

#scotlove

Well, it happened again.

I kind of expected it, but still it hit me like a ton of bricks.

I went and fell in love with another place…

Sorry Wyoming, South Sudan, Beirut, Big Bend, Everglades, Mexico, etc.

Please help me welcome Scotland to the list!

These are just a few of my favorites…

Melvich Bay and the Halladale River

Melvich Bay and the Halladale River

A lone sheep trots across the landscape at Clair-loch mor

A lone sheep trots across the landscape at Clair-Loch Mor

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Loch Scaven in the rain

 

A855 and the totternish range on the Isle of Skye

A855 and the Totternish range on the Isle of Skye

Dramatic light and clouds and the Isles of Rona and Raasay from the Isle of Skye

Dramatic light and clouds and the Isles of Rona and Raasay from the Isle of Skye

Loch Leathan and the Totternish Range

Loch Leathan and the Totternish Range

The Northern edge of the Totternish Range on skye

The Northern edge of the Totternish Range on Skye

A ship passes through the dramatic light of Duntulm Bay

A ship passes through the dramatic light of Duntulm Bay

Ellen Slaton gazes out at the view of the Sunset, North Sea, and Isle of Harris

Ellen gazes out at the view of the sunset, North Sea, and Isle of Harris from Lookout Bothy

A long day time exposure of the Totternish range with clouds

A long day time exposure of the Totternish range with clouds

Dramatic light and clouds and the Isles of Rona and Raasay

Dramatic light and clouds and the Isles of Rona and Raasay

Dramatic light and clouds and the Isles of Rona and Raasay with Sheep grazing

Dramatic light and clouds and the Isles of Rona and Raasay with Sheep grazing

A855 leading up to Storr and the dramatic Totternish Range on the Isle of Skye

A855 leading up to Storr and the dramatic Totternish Range on the Isle of Skye

Sheep at pature, gesto bay, and Loch Harport, with Cuillin Hills, Isle of Skye

Sheep at pasture, Gesto Bay, and Loch Harport, with Cuillin Hills, Isle of Skye

The hills of Ardmore with red deer

The hills of Ardmore with red deer

Lagavulin Bay and Distillery

Lagavulin Bay and Distillery

Tent camping in Ardcastle Wood

Tent camping in Ardcastle Wood

The banks of Loch Lomond

Loch Lomond

Falls of Falloch

Falls of Falloch

A woman in motion hiking on the Falls of Falloch trail

Ellen in motion hiking on the Falls of Falloch trail

Highland cattle in spring

Highland cattle in spring

Highland cattle in spring

Highland cattle in spring

Buachaille Etive Mòr at night

Buachaille Etive Mòr at night

Buachaille Etive Mòr and reflection in the morning

Buachaille Etive Mòr and reflection in the morning

Stay tuned for new photos, stories, and more….

— andrew


 
Take your photography to the next level… check out my exciting, NEW workshop dates:
 
Isle of Skye // S C O T L A N D // 2016
Highlands // S C O T L A N D // 2016
Big Bend NP // Night/ Landscape // 2016
 
 
If you are interested in licensing any of the images/ video from this post, please visit my stock agency:
 
Tandem Stills + Motion // andrew r. slaton
 
If you are interested in purchasing prints from this post, please check my prints for sale, or email me directly for a custom request:
 
andrew r. slaton // photographer // prints
 
For assignment work requests, please email me: andrew@andrewslatonphoto.com
 
Thanks for visiting AndrewSlatonBlog.com!
 
all images and content © ARS Media, LLC 2015

#wyolove

So finally, after all of these years living in and/ or visiting Wyoming, I have the compelling idea I’ve been looking for to do a book.

Just google “wyoming photography books”, and I guarantee you’ll come up with a plethora of titles.  This was always the route I thought I’d take; the typical landscape/ nature photography book.

Well thankfully, I never felt settled with that idea.  Yet I keep returning to photograph the rugged beauty of this place.

So on my last trip in February, I began laying the foundation, making contacts, interviewing people, etc.  It will be very different from the traditional landscape book.  Sorry, I can’t reveal any more just yet… But what I can say is that it will challenge me to the core… Alas, friends, I will have to work with the most unpredictable of all species… people!

What I love perhaps the most about a project such as this however, is that I still get to roam around the great state and attempt to capture the essence of this place that has so completely entranced me for the last 15 years.  And to share it with all of you.

I will return in July and September/ October… so don’t worry… if you’re as obsessed as I am, you’ll get your fill.

So here are some of my favorites from February…

Lone Big Horn Sheep in the snow near Jackson, WY

a hauntingly still winter day in snowy Grand Teton NAtional Park, WY

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Winter wonderland on Pacific Creek in Grand Teton National PArk, WY

Lone Big Horn Sheep in the snow near Jackson, WY

Lone Big Horn Sheep in the snow near Jackson, WY

Big Horn Ram detail

Lone Big Horn Sheep in the snow near Jackson, WY

Big Horn Sheep in the snow near Jackson, WY

A bald eagle perched in a bare tree in Grand Teton National Park in the winter

A colorfull sunrise over the Gros Ventre near Grand Teton National Park, WY

A colorfull sunrise over the Gros Ventre near Grand Teton National Park, WY

Winter sunrise on the tetons from Teton Overlook

Lone male hiker looking out in the snow toward the tetons

A colorfull sunrise over the Gros Ventre near Grand Teton National Park, WY

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Snow covered Tetons form a frozen Jackson Lake in Grand Teton National Park, WY

Snow covered Tetons form a frozen Jackson Lake in Grand Teton National Park, WY

Snow covered Tetons form a frozen Jackson Lake in Grand Teton National Park, WY

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Sunrise over the Winds from the Cora road in the Upper Green River Valley, WY

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Sunrise over the Winds from the Cora road in the Upper Green River Valley, WY

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The Wind River Range from atop the Mesa oilfields near Pinedale, WY

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morning light in the frozen desert near South Pass, WY

the dirt road to South Pass City ghost town, WY

dramatic clouds and road, south pass

dramatic clouds and road, south pass

White tail buck in the brush

Devils tower national monument, WY

Devils tower national monument, WY

dramatic sunset over Devils tower national monument, WY

a lone hiker enjoys a dramtic sunrise over Devils tower national monument, WY

dramtic sunrise over Devils tower national monument, WY

Devils tower national monument, WY

moon over Devils tower national monument, WY

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A man watches sunrise on Togwotee pass

coyote in the snow near moran junction in grand teton national park, wy

sunrise at snake river overlook, grand teton national park, wy

I love my job :)

— andrew


 
Take your photography to the next level… check out my NEW workshop dates:
 
Grand Teton Photographic Tour/ Workshops 2015
More Destination Photo Tours/ Workshops 2015
 
If you are interested in licensing any of the images/ video from this post, please visit my stock agency:
 
Tandem Stills + Motion // andrew r. slaton
 
If you are interested in purchasing prints from this post, please check my prints for sale, or email me directly for a custom request:
 
andrew r. slaton // photographer // prints
 
For assignment work requests, please email me: andrew@andrewslatonphoto.com
 
Thanks for visiting AndrewSlatonBlog.com!
 
all images and content © ARS Media, LLC 2015

The Art of The “Workcation”

Every time I travel I get asked, “Business, or pleasure?”

Often my answer is “Well… both.”

A puzzled look frequently follows.

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It took Ellen and I a few years to find the proper balance of a true workcation.  One that could satisfy both of our insatiable desires… the desire to be productive, and the desire to relax and recharge our proverbial batteries.

It’s not an easy balance for someone who loves what they do, and would be doing it whether he was getting paid or not.  That’s why every single trip I ever took when I was single was simply work.  But you see, that’s no fun for another person once they get added into the mix… maybe the first few times, but trust me, it gets old.  What might have started as fascination in the beginning, quickly turns to frustration, when your traveling partner seems to prefer working to relaxing and being in the moment with you.

And as most adaptations grow from necessity, so too did the invention and refinement of the workcation.

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Look, we’re not made of money here.  Work trips are our vacations… and vice versa.

So how do we find equilibrium?

Here are 5 important steps to striking the perfect balance between work and vacation, illustrated with images from our last Wyoming workcation…

1. Proper planning.

Nowadays, Ellen and I set aside specific days/ times on our trip to work.  With her starting a yoga business recently, she gets something out of it too… free marketing photos!  When there is a set, realistic schedule, both of us have very well managed expectations…. and those of you who are married or in long-term relationships know how important these are!

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2. Use what you have to your advantage.

I feel productive when I’m getting photos that I’m confident can sell.  That’s how I am able to justify all of the travel, if I’m not on a specific client’s dime.

So Ellen becomes my model… a lot.  As I’m sure you all have seen.

But it’s great because we can do the things we love to do together, like hiking, and I can spend a few minutes in between our quality vacation time, working, snapping sellable images.

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It’s also important to note that Ellen is particularly sweet and understanding that when extraordinary opportunities present themselves, work takes the front seat.

But don’t take advantage of your partner’s generosity.

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3. Know when to put work aside.  Be sensitive to your travel partners needs.  

As previously mentioned, my wife gives grace like a boss.  So it’s only fitting that I approach her with the same tender understanding.

It’s never fun to play second fiddle to work with a loved-one.  So know when it’s time to put the camera or laptop down and enjoy your partner.

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4. Enjoy your work so much, it is vacation!  

Be so passionate and enthusiastic about what you do, your travel buddy can’t help but want to be involved.

They may actually grow to love the process too.

But it must be genuine… manipulation will be sniffed out immediately!

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5.  Be realistic, schedule dedicated work time.

What Ellen and I found works the best, so I’m not too antsy to shoot the entire time we’re trying to relax and be “in the moment”, is really quite simple…

I schedule a week alone, to focus completely on work.  I either fly her in a week after I’ve arrived at a destination, or she flys out a week before I return.

That way, I always know that I have at least a full week of work under my belt already, or ahead of me.

And it allows me to relax.  Which makes the time more enjoyable for us both.

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It is rare that we take a proper “vacation”.  Part of it is financial, but another part is that we both really love what we do for a living.

So workcations are our norm.  And we like it that way.

They are tax deductible, and if you are careful, they are oh… so… enjoyable.

Here’s to 2015: a new year of workcations to nourish our souls and share with all of you!

— andrew


 
Take your photography to the next level… check out my NEW workshop dates:
 
Grand Teton Photographic Tour/ Workshops 2015
More Destination Photo Tours/ Workshops 2015
 
If you are interested in licensing any of the images/ video from this post, please visit my stock agency:
 
Tandem Stills + Motion // andrew r. slaton
 
If you are interested in purchasing prints from this post, please check my prints for sale, or email me directly for a custom request:
 
andrew r. slaton // photographer // prints
 
For assignment work requests, please email me: andrew@andrewslatonphoto.com
 
Thanks for visiting AndrewSlatonBlog.com!
 
all images and content © ARS Media, LLC 2015