Well….as we all know the last couple of years have been very different, very unique. With that said, I need to apologize as I had this blog post in the que, but forgot to hit publish. Sigh….
So here you go….let’s get you caught up. This post was supposed to published May 2021. Almost a year late….but as I say better late than never!!
I am up at Maroon Bells taking photos, doing some hiking, being one with nature…as much as I can be one with nature. The bigger question is why do I like coming up here all the time? It’s the beauty, the grandeur, the fact that the mountains look so far away, but I can hike there in 3 short miles and touch the base of the mountain. But, today’s kind of unique, it’s the middle of May, its still spring, and there is still snow around the area. However, mostly because there’s nobody here, which is also really kind of unusual
I feel like I have the area to myself…ok let’s be honest I think I do have the area to myself. I’ve been here, pre-pandemic and there has always been a large amount of people here taking photographs, hiking, sitting or just walking around. Whether that’s good or bad, it’s kind of irrelevant, but it is something that does happen just not too often. But this is of one of the most iconic sites in the country, everybody sees this picture at some point, whether they like it or not, or whether they know where it is, today’s experience reminds me what it was like in the 70s. Not a lot of people….hardly anybody knew about this place back then.
So back to today, again there is hardly anybody up here taking photos or hiking, except for the hardcore backpackers, its just plain quiet. But it doesn’t matter, Maroon Bells is still one of the most beautiful places in the country. I’m up here primarily because it’s the start spring photography season for me. I’m not a big winter photographer, never have been, probably never will. I would like to get to the top of some mountains in the winter, like at some of the ski resorts, especially around here and take some of the photos of what’s around the area, but since I don’t really do that, this is about as much snow as I get. And while this isn’t a lot at the bells, it’s enough for me.
This is one of those locations that I can just sit there and look at the mountains, tune the noise of the people out, and sit and be. When I am here, I really just want to take in the beauty and absorb it all into my soul. But I am here for photos….I want to take photos….I set up the tripod, the camera, set my settings on the camera, wait for that moment….and…..CLICK! I did it. I got it, I got the photo I want. But wait, I need to move around the lake, maybe closer to the headwaters of Maroon Creek that flows into the late. Once I find that location, I sit there and repeat all of the above steps and shoot the photo again…just from a different location. Some people may wonder why I do this, yes I am trying to build a business, but its more about the creative outlet for me. Interesting thing though, is as many pictures as I take of the bells, as many pictures as I take up the Crystal Mill, four mile and other locations around Colorado, I had something interesting happen. Whether its the people I meet, the animals that cross in front of my lens…or just the difference a couple of hours can make in the photo location…its always something new to look at, something new to experience, and something new to share.
I’m going to jump ahead to later that day and after I finished my photo shoot and got home to upload all 500+ photos to my computer, I happened to look at “D.I.A’s”, Denver International Airport’s Instagram page, and they were calling for photographers far and wide to share their photos of iconic Colorado architecture. Boy that word used a lot in blogs, websites, articles to describe a location…iconic.
Anyway, they wanted photographers to share their Colorado architecture photos and the best thirty five photos would be placed up in the Bridge between the Main Terminal and A Concourse in the Colorado Architecture exhibit. Hmm…..what really describes Colorado architecture? What are those photos that are out there of building structures? Places with structures? And does it represent Colorado? Does it really “talk” about what it was like? Or isn’t, do people see these things and say, “yes, that’s Colorado.”
And so on a whim, what the heck? What the heck? Why not….so I did it, I submitted a photo! Never in a million years did I think I would ever do that, submit a photo….AND I would also tell you that never in a millions years did I think I would get selected. This was in February 2021, a few weeks after I submitted my photo, I got the first email that basically said “you made it through the first round”. Woo Hoo, I made it through the first round. Ok, that’s a WIN for me. I can rest on this success! To be honest, I’ve never really submitted photography work with the exception of one other piece of work, Independence Rock, that was taken, 2006…err…maybe 2005, either way a long time ago. The photo of Independence Rock was published in a book, put on by a newspaper that was in Western Colorado at the time. The newspaper is no longer around, but that was the only other time.
And at the time period of the photo of Independence Rock, I didn’t have a website I barely have this blog going and I didn’t have the camera that I do now. I also didn’t have the skills, the talent to take award winning photos. Anyway, what does that mean when you take pictures? Do you get published? Do you enter contests? or Do I just print them for myself and other family members. But the question remains did I really know what I was doing entering a contest?? I took it as a sign that I’m trying to better myself. So anyway, that one photo being published in a book was the last time I’ve ever been published. I given pictures to families and friends, taking photography of, or photos of soccer during the high school seasons and some landscape photos…but never even thought to try and publish another photo of mine.
Ok, back to February, you are probably wondering which photo I submitted. Well….I thought about, wow, I’ve taken so many cool buildings of downtown Denver I could use one of them….turns out, they were all with my iPhone and not with the camera. Okay, never mind. Well then I started pulling up the photos I have taken at the Crystal Mill, just on a whim, why not…what the heck? And guess what? That one photo of the Mill made it, as I said earlier to the first round.
Ok, what happens from there…. Now one key piece to this is that it was not a popularity contest like so many of these things can be. They did not put it out there for people to vote on, which I was grateful for. Not that I don’t think some people would like it. I just think that it’s too much about who you know and not what the photo is. On a side not, I have entered contests that have others vote on it, share it on social media, share it with your friends and family and maybe they will all vote for your photo. That’s a popularity contest. Anyway, what did I do? I submitted my work, made it to the first round, the second round consisted of a panel of judges looking at it and determining if the photo was worthy enough, and I make it a second round.
That meant I had made it to the next round. My photo was getting closer to being selected to be placed in the Colorado Architecture exhibit at Denver International Airport!! I then had to submit a high resolution photo that was going to be able to be translated to 24X36. Hmm. Okay. Why not? So I did. Guess what? I made it to round number three. After a three week process through all of this, they selected one of my photos out of 300 to be displayed at Denver International Airport for the Colorado Architecture Exhibit. I had to re-read the email multiple times to make sure they selected my photo and that the email had my name on it. Ok…YES…it was true. Would you look at that, never in my lifetime would I ever expect that. You know, I am pretty darn happy about this…I mean wow do you know how many people walk across this bridge….well I don’t either but it has to be a lot. DIA boasts 69 million travelers through the airport (Based on 2019 numbers), that equates to the third busiest airport in the world (https://www.flydenver.com/about). Flash forward, all right, my photo has been up there for a while. People have seen it. I have friends who have sought out the photo and shared a “selfie” next to my photo with me. People have taken a look at it and guess what?
I’m seeing more hits on my website. I’m seeing more connections. I’m seeing more people say, yes, let’s look at this photo. Yes….let’s look at this, why not? I finally got to go. my wife gave me a $50 plane ticket. Why I didn’t need to go anywhere….why would I need this. She explained that it was the only way I would see it in person. Well….needless to say I didn’t even use the plane ticket, I guess it’s the things you do in life, right? So on May 21st I went to Denver International Airport with my $50 ticket, went through security, luckily the bridge security next to where the photo was located was open. Once we got through security, I found my photo. I spent about an hour looking at all of the photos selected. But I had to take one of me. Me and my photo! I proceeded to take photos of my photo. Kind of sounds kind of weird. Doesn’t it? Do you know what? It was totally worth it, totally worth it.
I got to see my photo on display. I got to see it where everybody walks by, some stopped when I was off to the side and read about my photo…ok others too…but they stopped and looked at it. This was something that hasn’t happened to me before. So now you asked the question, did I win an award? No, I did not. Did I win? Yes I did. I’ve never had anything like this happen. The photo published in the book is one thing…because you had to buy the book. Great. They bought the book. Wonderful. But if they didn’t buy it they’ll never see the photo. Guess what? People see that photo hanging up on the wall at DIA. They have the little sign next to it. And guess what? They see my website, they see my name, and they see my body of work.
I could not complain one little bit. And if I did, nobody would care. But the best part about this is I have published work. Now to kick myself. I didn’t put it on my website identifying it as the D.I.A photo. Which, yeah okay, I know. I may have missed out on a lot, but it is what it is. I am just happy that I got in, I’m happy that people like it, I’m happy that my friends have found it, and I am really happy, let’s make that ecstatic that I can say I won something. Again, do I want to win a prize? Do I want to win accolades? Of course I do, who doesn’t? I think anybody would say that, but it’s all about trying to get recognized for your work.
It’s all about trying to say this is my legacy. Ideally, not that my kids will ever care, but I hope I can say I left them something besides the memories. Take it from there. But there you go. The story of it didn’t win, but I did win. We’ll kind of take it from there, but it’s off to do a little hiking before we finish this post. All right.
Here’s a quote that’s on a bench over at the south end of Maroon Lake: Robert E. Wilson 1925-2018. “Rest, restore, revel in Grandeur. Possess the treasure moment. Know you are the keeper of the pristine.” I guess maybe that’s why I love this area so much because you can see the power of nature with the avalanches, the damage. I’m standing in an avalanche field right now, taking out some forest of aspens, taking out some other areas. But the beauty, it hasn’t touched this bench, or at least maybe they remove it for the winter time, but who knows? Maybe they don’t do anything with it. The sun is starting to come out. The scene is starting to be greener because of the rain yesterday. And according to a couple that I met, hail and everything else. But right now, how can you not want to be in a place where the running water is happening? The lake is somewhat filling, but we know with the issues this year with water, that it’ll be interesting to see how we do go through this.
But in the end, how can you complain about the view? God gave us this world as our own. Yes, how we treat it is up to us, but he gave us these things so that we could prosper, that we could survive, and that we could continue to share his glory. So on this Sunday morning, May 23rd, 2021, with no mask on, I thank you Lord for the life you’ve given me, for the scenery that you surround me with, and the family that you’ve blessed me with. You truly have given me a wonderful life. Yes I truly did WIN a lot this spring of 2021!!
Link to DIA’s website: https://www.flydenver.com/about/art_culture/my_colorado_architecture
Link to YouTube DIA Video: https://youtu.be/yimBVcJX70E