About Steve

Framed In Frost

What Do I Photograph & Why

The power of nature;  subtle, dynamic, both creative and destructive has always fascinated me. As long as I can remember, the diverse natural world with its peaceful streams and raging waterfalls, furnace like deserts and the soft rich green of moss on river rocks, peaceful silent snowfall, and destructive summer storms, has been not only my inspiration but also my refuge and sanctuary.  As Rachel Carson in her book The Sense of Wonder writes:  “Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts.”

I will never forget the feeling many years ago, during a particularly rough time in my life, when I stood in awe and amazement on a mountain top in the Great Smoky Mountains,  watching a raging summer storm move through the valley below. I knew then that I should change directions in my life and that capturing and sharing the power, the beauty, and the fantastic variety of nature would become my artistic path.

I soon learned that landscape photography is much more demanding than the commercial photography from which I had made my living. The necessity of rising before dawn and carrying a 40lb backpack up steep trails in the dark, sometimes around here in several feet of snow, is a lot more rigorous than walking into my nice air-conditioned studio at 9AM to photograph a bride or a box of breakfast cereal.
The wet feet, the cold hands, and the sore muscles are all worth it if, in the end, I have captured the inner spirit of the land, whether that exists in the urban jungle or in the magical landscapes of the forests and the mountains.

I am often asked whether my work is “real”, meaning, ” does it look like that if I were to drive over there and see it?”
Well, maybe….  You see, photography is one of the most difficult of the visual arts because it must be based on some sort of reality, some real visual elements must be present, and a radical departure from these “correct values” will result in rejection by the viewer.
However, the cameras and lenses that we use do not “see” the way our human eyes see. Tones and colors are restricted and compressed by the very tools of our art.  And, of course, nature is always changing. It is just not possible to photograph the same scene in the same way on different occasions. This endless variety is what gives landscape photography part of its appeal.
So, to answer the question: “is your work real?”  My work represents a very personal interpretation of nature that includes my thoughts and emotions and is in no way to be regarded as documentary or realistic, they are creative works. I think that is what puts the “art” in Fine Art Photography.

My current work focuses on images of theAppalachian Mountain areas of Ohio, Kentucky, West Virginia, and of course, the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee, that express my personal vision, a holistic vision of all things being in some way related. I wish to inspire you and to create in you a sense of wonder at the magic, the beauty, and the mystery of our natural world.

Stephen Carl
Xenia, Ohio