We had the good fortune of connecting with Douglas Brown and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Douglas, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
Starting a business is hard work and time consuming. I have a full-time job I am good at and enjoy very much. About 15 years ago I started getting into hiking and climbing to improve my health. This hobby led me to explore remote areas with incredible scenery around the Western United States. I have always been a photographer but as my hikes took me to more places I began to take my photography more seriously to capture and share it with friends and family. This wonderful complementary set of interests put me on a path to capture amazing wildlife, nature and landscape photographs and allowed me to refine my photography skills.
In 2017 I traveled to Idaho to photograph the total eclipse in the totality zone. From that trip I created a wonderful composite of the eclipse and sold enough copies of the photograph to seed my Web-based business. Since then, I have turned my hobby into a side business with a focus on building a presence and clientele to start a business I can operate when I retire and share my passions for nature and photography with my clients.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
My art focuses on the three main themes of nature, wildlife and landscape photography. I take the experiences I come across during my outdoor adventures and create a composition that highlights the subject and makes a viewer pause to enjoy the result. As some close friends tell me, “Anyone can take a picture, but creating a photograph that grabs someone’s attention is an art.” The biggest challenge I face is finding my subjects and taking advantage of the opportunity to photograph them. As a wildlife and nature photographer, my subjects do not come to me and they don’t often take direction from me when I find them. The locations I photograph are often remote and opportunistic by nature. When I am on a hike or climb with friends the objective is usually not a specific photograph or subject but the adventure of the day and enjoying nature with my friends. However, around every bend can be a unique interaction with nature or a breathtaking vista and I have to watch with a fresh mind to capture them. My hikes are often 10 to 15 mile adventures with several thousand feet of elevation gain and dragging along 5 to 10 pounds of camera gear takes work. What my photography focuses on is finding those moments that catch Mother Nature in all her grandeur, whether it’s a beautiful reflection of snow-covered peaks on a serene mountain lake or a close encounter with bighorn sheep on a remote desert peak. I want to capture and share the beauty and uniqueness of the great outdoors and share it with my clients. My greatest joy is when one of my photographs inspires a viewer and they want to learn more about it.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
If a friend was visiting for a week during summer and I had the opportunity to show them the best time possible, I would focus on taking them to some of my favorite outdoor areas in the backcountry. Too many people take road trips and don’t venture more than a quarter mile off the main road during their travels. This is unfortunate because when you are close to the road you are close to people and all that goes with it. To truly enjoy and experience nature at its finest one has to put on a pair of hiking shoes, pack a bag with supplies and get away from civilization for a little while. I enjoy trips to the Sierra to hike some of the incredible trails off Highway 395 from Lone Pine, Big Pine, Independence and Bishop. There are endless Sierra lakes, pine trees, soaring granite peaks, deer, bighorn, pika and incredible wildflowers no matter where you look. I would also take my friend to a few of the impressive 14,000′ peaks such as Mount Whitney and Mount Langley with their incredible sweeping views. Fresh air, great vistas and gorgeous sunrises and sunsets await.
In the winter I would take my friend on a trip to the deserts of Southern California such as Anza Borrego, Mojave, and Death Valley to see their unique colors and landscapes. We would explore the fantastic desert peaks while stumbling upon old mining camps and ranches dotting the southwestern deserts. After a full day of hiking we would enjoy a nice campfire while grilling steak, sausage and other camp food while the Milky Way and constellations emerge in the crystal clear sky. Finally, some other places we could visit along the way would be the many incredible state and national parks such as Yosemite, Kings Canyon and Sequoia. The beauty of California is that no matter what time of year or what direction we head, a week’s worth of great adventure and enjoyment lies at our doorstep ready to open its majesty to us.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I am blessed to have a network of friends and family who have encouraged and supported me on that journey. There are many wonderful hikers and peakbaggers in California I have gotten to know who have invited me to join their adventures throughout the southwest. In addition to encouraging my growth as an outdoor enthusiast, they have also encouraged and supported my photography. Without their feedback and enjoyment of my work, I would still be treating photography as a hobby instead of pushing myself and transitioning to a side business over the last few years. Great friends, an encouraging wife and family are some of the best motivators and support structures anyone can have. As the great songwriters John Lennon and Paul McCartney wrote, “I get by with a little help from my friends”, and I thank those friends for it.
All photographs are shot by Douglas S. Brown