The Story Behind the Name

My Philosophy

Somewhere along the way, my love of art surpassed my love of horses because my dream of going to college “for horses”, as I always said, started to seem unrealistic. I loved doing art, and there were actual degrees for art. There was no degree for “horses.” So I ended up majoring in art. And that’s when everything I thought I knew about art and how to draw was flung out the window.

It’s pretty clear that I've become attached to horses and the country lifestyle. I've embodied the life of owning a horse and living in the country, and I refuse to let it go. My love for horses overtook my life. It became the greater part of anything I read, watched, played, and especially drew. Horses were my true artistic passion.

Always have been, always will be. I grew up listening to country music, which still happens to be my favorite music genre. My wardrobe consists of a ridiculous number of flannels, jeans, and a vast collection of boots, hats, buckles, etcetera.

I am an avid horse lover.

Then for a long period, after both of my memory cards were full, my photography stopped completely. Until I got a phone. When my dad and I were phone shopping, he knew full well how much I liked taking photos and wanted to make sure I had a phone with a lot of space and a good camera. I hadn’t had a camera with space for such a long time that it was so refreshing to get back into photography. My skills had much progressed during that sabbatical, and I came to college with a new love of photography. My friends soon realized how much I loved photography, and it was not uncommon for me to ask someone I barely knew to pose for me because the perfect opportune moment had come and they were the unfortunate ones available.

When two of my older sisters got their cameras, I would BEG them to let me use them, so often that they had to start setting boundaries for me. So you can imagine my reaction when I was given a small on of my own at 13. I filled that memory card up like lightning. I took that camera and all the things my sisters had taught me and shot to my heart’s content. And I discovered something amazing. Something almost magical. I realized that I could turn any mundane object into something interesting. And I was extremely proud of that. I could turn anything from boring into interesting, even though I really didn’t know what I was doing.

Now, at school, I had known about the photography class, and I wanted so badly to take it. The only problem was I didn’t have a camera suitable for the class. Fortunately, a professor graciously let me borrow his, and I was able to take the class and re-ignite my true passion. I felt as though what I had been striving for since I was 9 years old was actualized in that moment. My photography professor taught me so much about photography and how to work my camera. I was fortunate enough to take Photo 2 as well as an independent study.

In those three classes, I learned about the beautiful way to make portraits using window light; I learned how to paint with light using a long exposure, which still blows my mind. The fact that I’m in every one of those photos, waving the light around, but can’t be seen in the final image is mind boggling. I also learned how to use studio lights; I learned everything that goes into making a great photo - lighting, subject matter, format, etcetera - and fell in love with the entire process. I learned a lot about post production and working my way through Lightroom and Photoshop. I learned how to manually maneuver my camera to make it perform whichever way I wanted it to, and this, I think, is the skill I am most grateful for. Being able to manually adjust the settings on my camera with no problem at all is such a valuable skill, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

I fell in love with photography, and honestly, I’ve become addicted. Sometimes people ask me what my favorite part about photography is, and I have to honestly say that there is not one thing I like better than another. I like going out and posing my subjects, spending time getting comfortable around them and finding the best way to take the shots just as much as I love post production and editing afterwards. I often get lost in time when I work. What feels like twenty minutes in the lab during post-production turns out to be three hours. And I have no regrets. I’m inspired by seeing others’ works and discovering new ways to make my art better. What motivates me is seeing my own progress in my photography and my art in general regardless of the medium. Seeing progress encourages me to move forward and continue creating. I love looking back at photos I took a year or two ago and comparing them to ones I take now.

I’ve worked hard, and it’s finally starting to pay off. I’ve become a sort of “Jack of all trades” regarding photography. Just as there’s not one part of the photographic process that I like more than another, there is not one area of photography that I like more than another. I enjoy taking portraits just as much as I enjoy landscapes. I’m becoming well-rounded in my photographic abilities, and I think this not only reflects a lot of who I am - being good at a lot of different things and not necessarily liking one over the other - but it also helps me to relate and adapt quicker if I have experience in more than one area. And even though I shoot different subjects, they all include the basic photographic attributes such as lighting, composition, a central focus, lines, shapes, negative space, and so many more. One thing I have come to realize in what makes a photo great is whether there is a sense of emotion or a story being conveyed. As soon as the viewer is engaged, that’s when you know you’ve done well.

What I’ve come to notice in my art, however, is that there’s something lacking. That’s not to say I haven’t made good art and I haven’t made art that I like. I definitely have plenty of artwork that I’m proud of. It’s just that, for a good chunk of my time at school, I was making art of random subjects and for other people. I was drawing paper bags and painting cityscapes. I was photographing city streets and shadows. It wasn’t until I remembered what really makes me ME and incorporated that into my subject matter that I really started connecting with my art. And what is it that connects me to my art? Well, let’s go way back to the beginning where I talked about my avid love of horses. It was only when I started incorporating my horse obsession into my art that I really started to connect with it. It became so much more meaningful to me because I started drawing from my roots, from the depths of my desires and expressing myself and who I am with forms of art. I feel most fulfilled in my art when it’s of the west, when it’s of horses, or mountains, or the country. What you’ll see in my portfolio contains a lot of western aspects: horses, western apparel, mountains, etcetera. But what you’ll see is more than mountains, what you’ll see is my passion, what makes me me, what molded me into who I am. What you’ll see is the combination of my two absolute greatest passions in one form, and my hope is for you to not only enjoy looking at these artworks but to also come to a better understanding of what makes me unique.

This is why I chose to name my blog "More Than Mountains." It fully explains me and my creative process and shows you that there's more to the photos I take than the images, and also that mountains aren't all I take photos of! And through this blog I hope to share the life lessons that photography has taught me, the first being that I have been given a glimpse into myself that I never would have had otherwise known.