Welcome! (And fair warning...)

October 27, 2020

Well I guess it's official... welcome to my new website and blog! Both now are a very long time in the making and I just wanted to take this chance to offer a brief introduction of what you might expect to find here. Off the bat I'm going to confess, this isn't going to be a typical photographers blog site. I don't do gear reviews, and probably won't have a whole lot in terms of tutorials either. All of that is out there already, in abundance, and while I'm always happy to offer advice I'd prefer to focus on other things here. In time this may change a bit (I can see myself writing some how-to pieces on art shows, for instance) but right now I'd rather devote my energy to other topics. I'm frankly not interested in writing articles for the express purpose of boosting SEO, either. I know that many photographers, and many of whom I have much admiration for, do this, and from a business standpoint it's very smart. Being found is the name of the game in this hyper-competitive field, and we're vying for any edge we can get in having Google point viewers our way. It's not where my heart's at, though. And so I'm going to write about things that are.

I began work on this website over a year ago, and had already drawn similar conclusions at that time. I knew there were topics I could write about that might generate more business related traffic, and in turn deliver more sales. That's never been the driving force behind my photography though. Of course I want to be able to make a living and am humbled and grateful for every piece that I sell, but I have never set out to take photos with turning a profit in mind. Photography, for me, is about sharing my view of the world... and writing very much is too. I want to use both to inspire others and advocate for the things that I care about. So with that I made the determination when I started all of this that I was not going to be a marketer or a salesman. I'm going to be myself. I'm going to open my heart and share it with the world. In success or in failure, whatever may come, I'll at least know my efforts were authentic. What you'll find here is raw, unorthodox and nervously vulnerable; but unapologetically me.

So again, a year ago, the vision I had in all of that was to use this blog to provide a behind the scenes look at my travels, and my journey toward trying to make a living as a full time nature photographer. I launched a YouTube channel with the same thing in mind, and planned to create videos to further tell my story and enhance these posts. Back then, and to that point in my career, I had always sought to inspire people to protect and appreciate the natural beauty around them, and to live life to the fullest with passion and exploration. I believed, and still do, that this all went hand in hand. I knew that if people would spend more time outdoors, be it on a local bike path or a once in a lifetime visit to a national park, they would be better for it. They would understand the need to take care of these places as well. I'd always shared my photos with the goal of encouraging this, and felt adding the stories behind them was a logical next step. I recorded the following video in September 2019 with that same mindset, and in it go more in depth in explaining what I hoped to do.

But that was a year ago. And as we all know, we live in a different world now. It's been a really, really hard year since, and for me personally that piggybacked off of some pretty rough seas before. Through it all I've been forced to face some things within myself, taken a lot of time for reflection, and had to really ask what I've done with my life and what I plan to do with it before my time is done. It's still, in part, very much what I've alluded to here already. I want to share my view of the world, and stories of my travel and adventures, to inspire and entertain. I want my work to encourage people to see the beauty that exists in nature, and the sanctity of life. I want to help point out the subtle blessings, wherever we are, that fill the quiet moments of our day to day. I want to capture images that showcase this incredible world we share, and call for better stewardship in what we are leaving our children, our grandchildren, and all of those to come.

Now though, there's even more. In the past year we've seen endless examples of abuse of power and greed in this world. We've seen blatant disregard for the environment, flouting of environmental law, and continual attacks and dismantling of the safeguards that are in place. This as historic fires, droughts, flooding, and awful storms have destroyed places that we live and love. We've seen a pandemic ravage our daily lives, further exposing social constructs and the disparities between the haves and have nots. We've seen pettiness and selfishness, fueled by partisanship and misinformation, and ridiculous temper tantrums over something as simple as wearing face masks to stop the spread of a deadly virus. Hundreds of thousands have died and far more are suffering because of inept leaders that value profits and political allegiance over their constituent's lives. We've seen the veil torn away once again to reveal the prevalence of racism in this country, to expose systemic disadvantages, murders and injustices, faced daily by People of Color which underscore our hypocrisy and how far off of this nation's claimed founding ideals we still are. We've seen children torn from their parent's arms at the border- we've allowed as a society this xenophobic and reprehensible display of intimidation- and now carry the guilt and heartbreak for several hundred children who can't be reunited with their mothers and fathers. And vice versa. We've seen tribal sovereignty ignored, stimulus funding delayed, and sacred sites destroyed to demonstrate that the disgraceful legacy of how Indigenous people are treated in America is perpetuating today.

In short, things are pretty messed up. And while one of my photos might urge someone to pause and appreciate the sunset, or to go for a walk in a nearby state park, that alone does very little to address any of the issues mentioned above. My approach has been too passive, and it would be morally and intellectually negligent of me to recognize this and not change. I'm not doing enough, and outrage without action is simply feigned. I can't imagine one day being forced to look my son in the eye, or a grandchild, and when asked why the world is in the grips of climate chaos... when asked why Black friend's must behave differently when pulled over by police... when asked why rivers are unsafe to swim in or the wild places I once freely explored were exploited, developed, stripped from our public hands... to be asked about any of this and if I did anything about it at all, I can't imagine just saying "I took some pretty pictures..." and offering an apologetic shrug. So I'm going to devote this space to advocacy, as a step toward doing more. To advocate for what I believe in and what I think is right.

I've decided to name this blog "Another Song, Another Mile" which is a carryover from another blog that I started many years ago. The title is taken from the lyrics of one of my favorite songs, "Wiser Time" by The Black Crowes, which I relate to in ways that represent my continued growth and personal journey. Around the same time, I also started my photography business and went back to school to earn a degree in Journalism and Mass Communication. Feeling then that I needed to do more to advocate on behalf of the environment, I tacked on certificate degrees in Sustainability and Philanthropy and Non-Profit Communications to gain a better understanding of contemporary environmental issues, and how to work within the organizations fighting for a livable future on this planet. And then... I don't know. Life just happened. I was so passionate about growing my photography business that it was easy to put all my focus on that, and when doors didn't open on other fronts I just kind of let go and went to sleep in a lot of ways. It wasn't that I stopped caring, or trying to be more responsible in my own habits, but I stopped writing, and I let other parts of my spirit fall dormant too. I grew comfortable and content, and other than my business, was sort of just floating on.

That's not what I want to have to explain to my son, or want my life story to be. And that's why I'm eager to start blogging again, with a new sense of urgency, and will be choosing to write about whatever issues I find pressing and important... not just what might boost my sales. In a lot of ways, in terms of the environment and public lands, this is directly connected to my livelihood as a nature photographer; and so I absolutely feel a professional obligation, as well as a personal one, to speak out. With other topics, specifically race and social issues, I feel it is a moral responsibility. I want to fight for a better world. For everyone. For my child, for yours, and for all of our futures. Regardless of skin color, sexual orientation, socio-economic status or any other factor. Hell, even for Nebraska Cornhusker fans... those misguided souls deserve a fair shake too. (I'm kidding.)

Of course it won't all be super heavy or controversial or doom and gloom. That's not really me either. I'm actually a very hopeful, positive and appreciative person by nature. And generally very shy and soft spoken too. But there are too many problems to stay in such comfort zones and think change will ever come. So I want to find a balance here. Again, I want what I write to inspire people to make the most of the blessings of life. And I want to advocate for a healthy planet, and a just society where that is attainable for all. Will that promote my business? I don't know. Will it cost me sales? Maybe so. But at least this will be a platform to use my skills for what I believe is right. At least I can direct attention to important issues, and be an ally in helping to raise the voices of those who have gone too long without being heard. And this won't end with what I write here; but will rather be an impetus for my own continued growth, new projects and better involvement too. That, in a nutshell, is what this blog will be about. It may not be business savvy, but it's going to be good for my soul.

If what I have to say here might be of interest to you, I'd be honored to have you follow along. I'll usually post links to new entries on my social media channels, but the best way to make sure you don't miss anything is to subscribe to my email Newsletter (You can do so HERE.) I send this out every other week, with additional behind the scenes insight and commentary; and now that this site is launched will also include a curated list of links to recent blog posts in each issue. For those who use RSS readers, you can search for me there too.

Thank you so much for reading, and allowing me a chance to explain my intentions with this new blog. I'm eager for the next chapter of this journey to come.