Photography is as much a journey in search of your own private truisms as it is about discovering light and composition in exquisite environments.Perhaps why I prefer those moments to be private and quite. Alone in the landscapes when the light is pure and new and you've poised yourself to be a witness to its emergence and to its dissolution calls for a certain personal honesty in those lone spaces.
This website has been an critical source of information, education and inspiration for my emerging career. Kevin Raber has been watching my development since the very beginning so he's seen the good, the bad and the emerging.
Kevin and Michael and Jeff have been a huge part of my development and I'm very grateful for the honor of being featured here for my work.
"There can be many reasons why we first pick up a camera, but sooner or later it takes us on a journey. A relatively recent traveller is North American landscape photographer Valerie Millett. You should not delude yourself over her apparent speed of travel, however effective her use of social media. Behind the development in her image making lies a firm determination to better herself, and a considerable amount of hard work. She is now carefully forging a path of her own choosing, travelling at her own pace. You may have come across her blog which reveals that she is as comfortable with words as with images, however created. A mix of apt quotations and her own words tell of a developing dialogue with land and light and reveal something of the soul of this particular photographer."
I share the calendar spot-light with some of my absolute favorite photographers!
Thank you, Aperture Academy for a thought-provoking interview and a fine platform. To see my name up there with the likes of Art Wolfe, Guy Tal, David Cobb and Paul Marcellini and Stephen Oachs to name a few is just surreal.
"Pursue some path, however narrow and crooked, in which you can walk with love and reverence." — Henry David Thoreau
One of the most exquisite of scenes I think I've ever viewed. The perfect time of day and light created this breathtaking back-lit scene that gives way to feeling lost and small in something of a displaced Japanese garden perhaps. Just somewhere else bright, exotic and surreal. Beautiful reflective canyon light bouncing off 3 canyon walls at once. Soft and warm as the tree mimics the canyon curves perfectly.
I like this place and could willingly waste my time in it.”
― William Shakespeare
Returning to the West Fork trail after the Slide Fire.
My first hike back into the Enchanted Forest since the fire. To be honest, the damage was more than I'd expected and as I hiked through my beloved trail and surveyed my old friend, I felt I was blaming myself, my kind.
The fire damage is quite evident and although the colors were beautiful and for the most part this area of the forest was not totally destroyed, I couldn't help but feel a bit of the loss. The creek is changed, the flow, the crossings, the color and sounds. The low water level has completely changed the cove. The images I've taken over the years here are of scenes that no longer exists.
“When I think of the wisest people I know, they share one defining trait: curiosity. They turn away from the minutiae of their lives-and focus on the world around them. They are motivated by the desire to explore the unfamiliar. They are drawn toward what they don't understand.”
“Beautiful doesn't begin to describe it. A flower is beautiful. But this is beautiful the way that a person is beautiful- terrifying with its jagged edges, yet seductive with its crevices that hide so many secrets.”
― Jeri Smith-Ready
Post Processed in Adobe Lightroom 5.6 and Photoshop Sharpening was applied with High Pass and Overlay filters.
"She gets goosebumps from tiny, perfect things. Seeing the stars. Fruit trees in bloom. The scent of dinner from a neighbors house, a phone call at the right time, a bar of exotic chocolate. She keeps a list in her wallet of the gorgeous parts of the everyday: maple leaves, new perfume, slow-cooked tomato sauce. She adds to it all the time. She is rich with wonder.
She lies awake and listens to what her heart has to say,
hears it declare that this is the beginning of her own new year."
Ifeanyi Enoch Onuoha Two years ago last May, I had purchased my first full-frame sensor camera, a used Canon 5D Mark II. A few months after that I bought my first Canon L series lens, a 24-105mm. It's the only lens I own that I bought new. I still use the same gear today. I was so excited about the camera but it took a awhile to collect the cash. In the meantime, I'd read the entire David Busch manual on the camera before I ever even touched it.
“You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated. In fact, it may be necessary to encounter the defeats, so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, how you can still come out of it.” ― Maya Angelou
The Blue Lakes Trail, Colorado For almost a year I prepared for a hike and to photograph at a location I'd seen in a magazine awhile back. I purposely wanted to do the hike during the monsoon to insure some dramatic skies or at least hope for them. The surgeon I work for had also planned in advance an extreme backpacking trip out of the county so I had enough time to reserve a cabin in the area for several days in case I needed the extra time. During the months that lead up to the hike I had plenty of time to study about the trek, terrain, wildlife and angles to consider with the photography. Probably the most prepared I've ever been for a hiking/photography endeavor or so I thought.
“Every day brings us a chance to start over. We all have those stand down moments when we need to clear the way for truth and transformation. Sometimes those are painful moments. Though it’s hard to imagine, when you lose what you thought was a valued relationship, when the job that defined you for twenty years is gone, when the people you counted on turn their backs on you; you may actually be taking a step forward on the path to your truest desires and ultimately to your destiny.
"Come over the hills and far with me And be my love in the rain." — Robert Frost
There is a certain melancholic sleepiness I'm drawn to within the scenes of the American countryside. Laced eloquently with small man-made structures amid rolling green pastures , majestic mountain ranges dwarfed by the brooding heavens. Where the frailties of man mingle with the exquisite beauty of nature.
Robert Frost's "Road less traveled" seen in the foreground
Amidst the sterility of the surgical environment, the antiseptic trays, cold mayo stand set ups and the endless gloving and de-gloving sometimes the human element is over-shadowed by volume and simply referred to as a case. In my particular niche of surgery (I work as a surgical technician) the case if often referred to as a body part. The nose in 5, or the eyelid in 6. I drive in dark morning hours, greeted by security in a high-rise setting deep in the city. Many times while setting up a case I have stared out the window to view the downtown city lights twinkling as the concrete jungle prepares for a new day. I think of where I want to explore next and how I'd rather have my tripod in my hand and my hiking shoes on. I count myself as very fortunate to have been gainfully employed in a medical specially that funds my gear, explorations and gives me the room and time to roam the American Southwest.
I had a couple of hours to come up with a bio and photo of myself for a photography project I was working on. To be truthful, I knew I had to do it but procrastinated hugely. I was actually on my way out to hike with my dog and had to turn around when I got a email to "get it done" today.
Even though at one point in my years as a California beach girl, I did print work. I was never prepared for the industry. I'd been "scouted" one day at a gym and didn't give it much thought. A "particular" shot went viral on AOL and driving one day in my car, I actually heard the local DJ's talking about my photo, I became suspiciously fearful of attention. I loved the photography but after a while, the act of having the camera pointed at me created a full-blown phobia. I have no idea why, I just know the anxiety it produced. If you want to get rid of me, you'll never have to insult me, just aim a camera at me and I'm gone.
How do you explain such a fear. At a breakfast meeting with a group of photographers, one literally sat across the table and aimed his camera at me while I tried to eat. I left. I now found myself avoid meetings, meet-ups, anything like that, and yes, I know it's my loss. I'm trying to work through it.
After delving into a crash course in self-portraiture this weekend, I realized the whole time, my heart was pounding! I'd get the camera in focus and my face wouldn't be. I'd get my face in focus and my tripod wouldn't be. I had a tough time with focus and this is what I got!! . I know I had this naive notion that as my photography was getting more and more exposure, I could still live in an anonymous role as just the person behind the camera or behind the pen. My theories were starting to break apart, into reality. Especially with the advent of social media, obscurity is an obscure notion. Recognition happens, albeit uncomfortably.
" But before all else, a work of art is the creation of love. Love for the subject first and for the medium second.... Love is the general criterion by which the rare photograph is judged. It must contain it to be not less than the best of which the photographer is capable"
If there is ever a place that fully delights all my sensibilities, the hiker, the painter and the photographer and more, it is The Painted Desert. (Arizona) It conjures up memories of those narrated Walt Disney nature movies, that little rock collection my mother bought for me at the Grand Canyon which held a little vial of layered and colored sand. It delights every bit of the artist within when I see pastel layers now brought into full chromic saturation by the summer rain. The colors seem to run as they do on a sheet of pre-moistened warm Arches, down slopes, into crevices creating patterns and mingling with the next hue in fine outstretched fingers. Sweeping lines and soft muted domes like a field of sweet ice-cream cones rolling on forever. In my compositional thought processes I make no distinction between photos or paintings, paint or pixels. It's all art to me.
It all started with a co-worker's sick dog. We'd chat in wee dark morning hours over a cup of coffee before surgery about the prognosis and progress of her long time best friend who eventually passed. Then we'd avoid such tender conversations before long days and sterile environments but it lingered and drifted into my own world and thoughts of my own best friend.
Around that time, I started to feel bad for my pal who often spent most of her days without any company and had come to rely of me to make the most of what hours of day were left by the time I got home. Many times, I walked past her, putting myself first. I would change and head to the gym or jump on the computer but then all that changed.
I came home one day and we just stared at each other. I couldn't pretend to not understand. I couldn't put myself first anymore. Where was I going anyway? I'd come home in a hurry, rush here, rush there. I had important emails to write and people to contact and get back with. An interview to complete and people to meet and calls to make. Then one day, I just didn't care anymore. One day, I cared more about a sad dog, grabbed a leash and headed to the park.