Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Photographer Jay Goodrich returns to Colorado and rediscovers the magic that shaped his success

As you know, a busy photographer will occasionally have an experience that prompts him to pause and recall what it was like to live in a previous place. Jay Goodrich tells us about his feelings upon returning to his former home state of Colorado for a brief visit.

"There are places on this planet that people are drawn to. More likely than not, these places are ones of dramatic beauty or spectacle. What most of us don’t realize is that when too many others are also attracted to that same beauty, our sense of wonder is diminished. We lose that sense of amazement, adventure and fulfillment that drew us there in the first place. That was Colorado for me. Living in the heart of the spectacle began to tarnish my view of the location. I became complacent with my surroundings. I judged them on the day-to-day and not on the simple fact that I was living the dream. How things have changed.

"It's like my wife says, 'moving to Washington state has been good for us. We have realized a different mission, a finite one. One where personal decisions can be made, instead of swirling around within the evasive herd.'

"The one thing the move helped me understand is that there are places on this planet, in this country, where I can find sanity. A calm that anesthetizes the problematic. And quenches my thirst to create.

"A few weeks ago, as I led an increasingly popular photo workshop to Colorado, all of this came back to me via rush delivery. We experienced one obstacle after another in terms of weather, travel, and difficult shooting conditions, but I looked at each obstacle as merely the next challenge and pressed on creating what I went there for -- warm saturated colors.

"Colorado was my first experience being fledged from the nest. I packed my truck with my skis, bikes, and clothes; emptied my whopping $1000 bank account and traveled west in a Jeep Wrangler Chariot right after graduating college with a Bachelor of Architecture. Leaving the cluster of New York City for the wide opens of high alpine. I met the love of my life there. Had our kids there. And I also became a full-time professional photographer there.

"It is safe to say that Colorado has created me, and every time that I return now, I look at it from a much more mature perspective. I am there as a free soul and spirit. I am there to visualize with my eyes open to the way my seven-year-old daughter views and takes in our world.

"This fall I wanted a very simple accomplishment -- to remember why I went to Colorado in the first place. It wasn’t the money. It wasn’t the opportunity. It was the lifestyle. The quintessential fact that I loved to ski and mountain bike. A bit of a shift from what I was known for in the previous years, when I began as a photographer. When it all started, with the first click of the first camera, it was skiing that took grasp. I shot a whole brick of Fujichrome Velvia film at A-basin Ski Area. And every single image was underexposed by two stops. Whoopsie. Now it was time for a redux. I had four days before my workshop to pull a new perspective out of my head.

"Even though the concept was pretty simple, my brain argued with my body. We wasted time and shots, but then after exercising a little bit, rediscovering where I found peace and tranquility, twelve frames per second seemed slow, and composition after composition was exactly what my mind had remembered. Sanity came from rediscovering what I had spent twenty years of my life learning. A euphoric calm came and so did the work. I have always lived for life, always for my presentation, never for the wealth and riches.

"As I was heading back to the place that's responsible for raising me for half of my years on this planet, it was eye opening to know that early training never left and now allows a new, grown-up expression of my work.

"By the way, thank you Singh-Ray, yet again, for allowing me to follow the dream and capture a vision that is unique at least to me. The images included in this article were created using the LB Warming Polarizer and Galen Rowell 3-stop hard-step and soft-step Graduated Neutral Density filters."

Jay is now based in Washington State. He writes regularly for Outdoor Photographer magazine, has a column in the brand new PHOTOGRAPH magazine available at craftandvision.com, is a contributor to Powder and Bike magazines and teaches workshops all over the world. To learn more about his upcoming workshops to Colorado, Utah, Alaska, Iceland, and other projects, visit the links below.

JayGoodrich.com | Blog | Facebook | Google+ | Twitter | Flickr | Vimeo | LinkedIn