Where did your love of the outdoors come from? Nurtured early, discovered later, or somewhere in between?
My love and appreciation for the outdoors honestly didn’t start until I was an adult. My family is originally from Brooklyn, NY and after moving I spent my adolescent and college years in Maryland. I didn’t get to visit any National Parks until I was an adult and began to travel on my own. I’d always felt that I was missing a large connection w/ the outdoors and began to tag along w/ friends who had been hiking and backpacking their whole lives. The first National Park I visited was actually Glacier National Park, and it literally changed my life.
What does nature mean to you personally? What’s the “point” in conserving it?
Nature to me has become everything, and I am grateful that I now get to travel, hike and explore as a creative. I feel most inspired when connected to the natural world and beauty that we take for granted from time to time. I find that when I am feeling low or need some inspiration the number one way for me to recharge is to get outdoors and “see”. Even though my photographic subject matter is not always of the natural world, most of my lighting technique and composition are based on and/or attempting to mimic natural scenery and beauty.
What role does art and media play in conservation?
I think art and media play a huge role in conservation. In the age of social media it’s easier than ever for people to see what is actually out there and get involved. At the same time, we need to make sure we are responsible in our documentation and portrayal of our natural lands. I also think it’s important for artists to challenge their audiences by digging more into the history of a certain park or location for example. Nowadays, everyone is trying to capture “the shot” or the selfie, which can be dangerous and lead to other’s mimicking behavior that is absolutely counter to what we need.
What do National Parks represent to you personally? Do Parks represent something beyond “just” conservation?
National Parks to me represent some of the last few bastions of actual freedom here in our country. They also remind me of all the work that went into actually establishing and maintaining them. While many of us enjoy them, they also remind me of how we actually came to acquire much of this land. I believe they are places where we can take time to love and appreciate our surroundings. They also allow us to take a look at our planet’s natural history and at many times our own problematic national history.
What was your biggest takeaway from your experience in Glacier National Park through the Amble program?
My biggest takeaway from the whole experience has been that the individuals who work at the Conservancy (as well as Park employees and activists) are some of the kindest and hardest working people I’ve ever met. This project has been transformative for me, and the way that I think about my work and obligation to tell some of these stories when possible.
The Parks need our support, and while everyone involved is amazing it’s not enough. We need more funding and national attention on our Parks. Everyone loves to enjoy them, but what about all the work and restoration that has to be done all-year round. Things like maintaining trails, reintroducing native species, and coordinating w/ the indigenous tribes associated with some of these lands. I encourage anyone who has ever considered volunteering, donating or getting involved to let today be the day you finally do something about it.
Do you have a favorite moment or image from your Glacier trip, and why?
It’s almost impossible for me to choose a favorite image, because I loved every single portrait and landscape image I captured while out there. I will say these two images are important to me because they were taken together, and meant to showcase exactly what was mentioned. We all head out to these parks for our own reasons, but ultimately at the end of the day this land is sacred, and we are lucky to have places like GNP to explore w/ our friends and family.