The Four Most Influencing Photographers Since 2017

In this post, I want to identify and thank the following four photographers for influencing me in the last four years with their expertise, passion, and most of all, generosity. Sharing with me equipment, knowledge, secret locations, passion, expertise, time, and so much more.

2017: Bryan Hansel

I first met Bryan on a winter workshop along Lake Superior during February. I had been saving up to participate and my wife said I was crazy to pay money to photograph ice will being on ice and having my entire face frozen. When it comes to winter photography, a little crazy is good. Beyond the shared love for winter photography, the North Shore and Lake Superior, Bryan indirectly encouraged me through his use of a good foreground. No one does that better in Minnesota in my opinion. He really captures unique patterns and leading flows from foreground to background. I also think he is distinct from many other photographers for doing this. I am grateful he showed me to look closely and see beyond what is easily seen.

2018: Jay Rasmussen

If you have read my blog posts before, you may be familiar with Jay’s name as he has been my mentor since 2018. After reviewing my work in early 2018 and not impressed, he reviewed my work again six months later at his home. After critiquing 75 images of my images, he determined I had a chance at selling my work and he began to equip me using his experience and knowledge to start my journey. He became the catalyst ingredient to my passion and practicing and I’m so grateful to his generosity and support. Jay has taught me how to sell, market, and get my name out there and has been the largest influence in the photography journey.

2019: Chris O’Donnell

Chris would be surprised to make this list. But my “astro adventurer” friend, really produced a love for the night skies through inviting me to join him on all night excursions to capture the moon, Milky Way, and on one fortunate occasion, the Northern Lights. He was really patient with me as I learned how to focus on stars, set my iso and create long exposures. He even loaned me a lens which he eventually sold to me. Waterfalls may be my favorite subject to photograph but the night sky is the most fascinating and exhilarating subject. I am always in awe and Chris helped paved the way for me to appreciate it. He’s shown me secret spots and been generous the whole way.

2020: Ernesto Ruiz

I’d say Ernesto has no idea of his influence but the latest is the need to slow down. He has an Instagram hub and website called Slow Movement Photography that really focuses on slowing down and finding quality not quantity. Rather than doing the “run and gun” when it comes to locations, it’s rather about putting the camera down and seeing the scene. Just take it all in and let the entire place, the emotion or the essence of place determine the compositions. Being more of a run and gun type of photographer, who certainly has lots of friends who do this, too, I really want to practice this more. Ironically, the last picture I take at locations often is my best. I believe that is because I have spent the time needed to really understand what the scene is providing me. It’s a challenge for sure, but one I am trying to embrace as often as I can.

To each of you, my gratitude for your influence is matched by the excitement for the future. Thank you.

September’s Arrival Means Autumn Planning

Today, I’m excited even as I’m still dealing with the “year-in-limbo” as it’s been harder to make concrete plans in 2020. I’m currently mapping out that sweet one month window where autumn colors blossom in the Midwest. It’s a very ambitious plan. I think this year I’m feeling bit more pressure to get out because in December, my wife and I will welcome our first child and life will change in many ways. Below are the ideas and trips I am hoping to make happen. I’ll write future blog posts on the big ones and as many as I can to share this lovely season, even though I admit I am holding onto summer by swimming at the cabin every weekend.

Badlands National Park & Spearfish Canyon

I’ve been coordinating going next weekend with a buddy for three nights which means little sleep, that probably is happening midday. We are night sky focused hoping for some Milky Way. Sleep is overrated when you’re headed out for photography in a place you haven’t visited since childhood and had no camera in your hands. Tentatively, the plan is the Badlands one day and two nights and Spearfish Canyon one night and two days. This trip may be the most exciting due to its fresh landscapes since I usually shoot in Minnesota. Don’t even get me started on the waterfalls in the area. Wow. Let’s go!

Michigan’s Upper Peninsula

Instead of heading to the North Shore with three friends on our third annual autumn trip, we are heading to a new location. The south shore of Lake Superior in Michigan. My wife and I did a babymoon trip there in July and while I didn’t really photograph on that occasion, I did scout for this autumn trip. We will be hightailing it east to Tahquamenon Falls and slowly make our way back west exploring Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, the Keenaw Peninsula and maybe the Porcupines before heading home. Our itinerary is 75% set with a boat tour and ten-mile hike included. It’s a fantastic tradition I hope continues for many more years to come.

Ely/Itasca

There is the North Shore frenzy in fall but what about other northern parts of Minnesota? I’ve photographed in both places before but it was secondary to a group event. This time, I want to do something different and have scouted some places to visit. Being 3-4 hours away, this could be as quick as an up and back or one night stay. I really want to go just to be a bit different than my photography circles.

Southeastern Minnesota

Along the Mississippi River on both Wisconsin and Minnesota are wonderful bluff views. There is a fantastic loop from Red Wing to Wabasha to Stockholm to Hager City and everything in between. It’d be great to have two nights to do this but I expect possibly two day trips, one on each side. It’d be wonderful to capture that transitional summer to fall fog that often appears.

Grand Portage & the Gunflint Trail

It’s possible I am heading north to commission a piece for a client. Since I’m up there, I will focus more on Grand Portage and going east on the Gunflint. I haven’t focused on the latter much at all and am intrigued by blue lakes surrounded by lots of color. I am not sure when this trip is happening but it might be a last minute “Oh, the leaves just changed! Let’s go!” thing.

Other Day Trips & Hopes

Jay Cooke State Park, Kinnickinnic State Park, Alexander Ramsay, Pipestone, and a seasonal series from William O’Brien State Park round out the dreams right now. Typing all of this out is very idealistic but also very promising and exciting! Stay tuned.

Astrophotography Addiction

On September 1, I was a young child, filled with wonder and awe. I chased the night sky charms with a fellow photographer and friend on a thrilling adventure. From blue hour on what I call Minnesota’s small Cliffs of Mohr to the Milky Way’s core on a hidden bridge to finally northern lights dancing over a waterfall, it was truly a magical night.

First Aurora
First Aurora

 

This was a night of many firsts.

First time really photographing the Milky Way.

First time witnessing the northern lights with my eyes.

First time capturing a waterfall with both phenomenons overhead.

It was instantly a top three photography trip. I don’t recall giggling with joy so many times while capturing photos. The night skies are truly magical and outshine other so many so-called magical moments in nature.

I think I am now addicted to astrophotography.

 

Photography competitions

I didn’t devote 2018 to entering photography competitions by any means. However, I did enter five competitions locally in Minnesota, submitting between two and eight each photos each time. While I didn’t earn Grand Prize status, I did receive shared first place in three of the five competitions.

A win is a win!

Three Rivers Park District

I live a block away from Silverwood Park, one of many in the Three Rivers Park District, and started my 2018 photography journey here. I didn’t visit another location so frequently due to it’s proximity to me. The winning photograph actually was the first I had ever taken with my new full frame Sony A7ii. It’s a favorite bending tree during a soft sunset. It was voted as Top Landscape Photo. Check it out.

Silverwood Park
Silverwood Park in Early Autumn

Nine Mile Creek Watershed District

What’s particularly rewarding about winning each of these three contests is that every location has an emotional and memorable place in my life. This second contest is held by the Nine Mile Creek Watershed District. The district ranges from Hopkins to Bloomington and it’s in the south part of the Twin Cities where I often took my dogs on walks, explored the creek nearby 35W and the Minnesota River, sighting owls and snakes, and where I biked the mud and dirt trails.

I was really surprised that out of the eight photos I submitted, the one below was chosen as the winner. And to be honest, I was a little uncertain and borderline embarrassed because I took that photo as I was getting started and certainly had better submissions. Perhaps that was the best January photo submitted! But I’ll take it, and the $10 gift card!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Nine Mile Winter Sunrise

 

Blue Fin Bay

Finally, the third win was the sweetest. Not only because the winning prize was large, and the photo chosen is the second most popular among my family, friends, and fans, but also due to waiting a long time to find out the results. Staying at Blue Fin Bay Resorts has been a family tradition for three years and we’re going back for a multiple night stay next month. The resort is between Tofte and Lutsen along the North Shore. It’s been a treat to stay there because it’s a tradition to look forward to once the holidays are over.


I will also add that I am selling this photo as a metal print starting with the 8×10 size. Please message me or comment for prices and inquiries. I just sold a 16×20 to a friend and it’s been super pleasing to see it hang on the wall.


This photo is also special because it was the best sunset I’d ever seen. And I earned it. It was -20 degrees or so in Grand Marais and I was doing jumping jacks and all sorts of dances trying to stay warm. The sunset reflect all over the ice and was just a glorious moment in 2018.

Enjoy!

Icy Sunset

In case you were wondering about the other two competitions in which I entered, they were TruStone Financial’s annual calendar contest and National Camera Exchange’s travel contest.