Looking Back and Looking Ahead

2012 was quite a year for us at Les Picker Fine Art Photography. One of my favorite things was dialoging with you, my loyal readers, over a range of issues. You had questions for me, but also took the time to respond to questions I asked. For that I thank you.

Making a Living

This past year my travels took me to some interesting places, including Canada, Iceland, Sri Lanka, Israel, and Finland. In the States, I taught a workshop for the Nikonians Academy in Acadia National Park, a location I know and love, having done graduate school research in that gorgeous park. Yes, I feel fortunate to travel to some iconic places as a landscape and travel photographer, but oddly enough it is the wonderful people that I get to meet that makes my trips so special.

We also revamped our website last month. There is still work to be done on it, but I’d love to get your feedback at this point to better inform our efforts. Please take a gander at the site and then leave your comments.

We also staged our largest permanent photo installation yet, with more than 60 of my images placed in a new medical wing at Sinai Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland. We have an amateurish, but funny, 1-minute video showing the installation of one of our large wallpaper murals. Bob Boyer, our Master Printer, outdid himself in churning out some exceptional, finely detailed prints of my work. But we are also grateful to Museo Fine Art papers for their support. In case you haven’t realized from reading my blogs, we love, love, love the luscious Museo papers.

We also managed to put out another e-book in my series entitled The Photographer’s Eye. We now have three ebooks: Landscape, People and Wildlife.

Finally, I was incredibly honored to be given the prestigious Canada Northern Lights Award for Best Travel Photography for 2011.

Looking Ahead to 2013

This year’s travel promises to be the most rigorous in several years. I start in Yellowstone in January, hoping to get some quality winter landscapes and wildlife. Then it’s off to Hawaii, which includes a 2-day hike down Haleakala crater with an Aussie couple that I met entirely by chance as I photographed a sunrise in Acadia last Fall. These nice folks have visited every National Park in the continental U.S. and I’ll lead then down the crater during their visit to that Park.


After Hawaii they’ll only have Alaska’s National Parks to go. What a great accomplishment!

In May I’ll be in Italy and Malta. In June I’ll spend a couple of weeks RV-ing around British Columbia with my good friend Ed Hill, a retired Royal Canadian Mounted Police officer. No one knows BC better than Ed, an outdoorsman who served as a Mountie there for more than 30 years.

In August I return to Canada, this time to Banff and Jasper in the Canadian Rockies. This year I’ll try to avoid a bear encounter. In the past two years I’ve had two uncomfortable “meetings” with a black bear and a Grizzly. What beautiful animals!

Then it’s on to Sri Lanka in September, where I lead a workshop for Nikonians and then two more workshops in Maine in October. Last year’s workshop sold out, so if you’re interested, book early. November and December are not yet set, but I’m hoping for a trip to Africa.

We’ll also be doing two very exciting- and very different- photo workshops this year, but plans are still forming. I will announce them as soon as they are finalized.

Sound Like a Dream?

But, don’t let this seemingly idyllic travel fool you. It is work; hard work. Traveling today is a mess, pure and simple. Every week seems to bring new restrictions that make travel for a pro photographer miserable. Aside from all the things that affect our livelihood- like excess baggage fees, and the minor annoyances including long lines, and the arbitrary inspections of every camera, lens and accessory- there is the constant need to secure one’s equipment from theft and damage. I’ve lost thousands of dollars worth of equipment in recent years.

I also rarely get anyone else to make my travel arrangements, so in addition to prepping photographically, there are all the flights, lodging, transportation, research on photo locations, and even hiring guides when necessary. There were also the two occasions when I rolled back the covers in my motel room and had very special greetings, courtesy of a horde of bedbugs!

At my age, it’s often not fun to trudge up mountains with a 35-pound backpack or stand in -40 temperatures for 5 hours in the dead of night photographing the Northern Lights. But, I wouldn’t trade those inconveniences for anything. And here’s why.

If you want to feel how insignificant you really are, stand on a mountain in the Arctic at 2:00 AM as the Northern Lights suddenly flair to life (the first time I witnessed them, I cried). Or sit at the edge of the Grand Canyon at dawn as a condor with a 10-foot wingspan rides a thermal right in front of you.

I don’t like churches and synagogues. I personally can’t imagine that the way to get close to the Creator force is to sit in neat rows inside four walls. The only times I feel a spiritual connection is when I’m “out there” in the wild, recording nature. I stop, look around me and am always amazed at the abundance of life and its beauty. I breathe in the intoxicating forest smells and listen to the glorious sounds of a brook, birds flitting and singing around me. That’s when I know in my heart and soul that I wouldn’t trade what I do for any job in the world.

Here’s to a wonderful 2013 for us all!

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