Ian Plant Photography

Ian Plant’s Magical World of Photography and Finding the Extreme

Your job as a photographer is to show the world what you see” said Ian Plant during a recent day-long photography seminar I was lucky enough to attend in Minnesota. Ian Plant is world renown for his incredible landscape, wildlife and street photography that often delves on the edge of the extreme perspective. Ian uses a unique combination of light, composition, mood and the magic of the moment to captivate his audience and tell us a story. Whether it be the gorillas in Rwanda, the polar bears in the Arctic, the Maasai in Africa or the sea caves off the shore of Lake Superior, Ian’s incredible artistic gift for photography will never disappoint and keep his audience longing for more.

I left Ian’s seminar feeling so inspired by his incredible ability to show the beauty of the world through his lens that I knew I had to do an interview and share his sensational work with my own audience on my blog. Welcome to the magical world of Ian Plant and his jaw-dropping photography. Once you see his work, you won’t be able to let it go.

Ian Plant Photography

Los Cuernos sunrise. Torres del Paine National Park, Patagonia,Chile. Photo Credit: Ian Plant

Tell me a little about your background. Where are you originally from? What did you study in school and where? When did you learn photography?

I’m originally from upstate New York. After college, I went to law school and then practiced antitrust law for eight years with a large firm in Washington, D.C. After my first year in law school, I worked for a law firm in New York City, and it was then when I bought my first camera. I was instantly hooked on photography, and soon I realized I had made a huge, $100,000 mistake on my legal education!

Why did you decide to leave your job as a lawyer and pursue photography?

After eight years of practice, I had finally paid of my school debt, and I couldn’t take it anymore, so I quit. That was thirteen years ago. I’ve been a full-time professional photographer since then, and I’ve never looked back.

Ian Plant Photography

Aurora borealis. Lónsfjördur, Iceland. Photo credit: Ian Plant

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Juncal Glacier, Chilean Andes

Serenity Found in the Chilean Andes

“Every breath we take, every step we make, can be filled with peace, joy and serenity”.- Thich Nhat Hanh

I just returned from a little over a week in Central Chile and am filled with the serenity of being in one of the places I love best, the mountains. While I have much catching up to do, I will take it slowly and allow myself time to reflect on what a remarkable experience I had. There is nothing like being outside in the mountains to take you away from all the worries and problems in this world. Far away from the internet, the ugly news and media, I feel so utterly free I could cry in tears of joy. If only I could keep that serenity inside me forever. But we all know it is not possible. The constant bombardment of news is difficult to ignore and hard to bare. So I will work on trying my best to avoid it.

I look forward to sharing my trip with you. In the meantime, here are a few pictures from my six-hour hike to the Juncal Glacier, located two hours outside of Santiago in the heart of the Andes.

“Peace is not a relationship of nations. It is a condition of mind brought about by a serenity of soul. Peace is not merely the absence of war. It is also a state of mind. Lasting peace can come only to peaceful people”. –  Jawaharlal Nehru

Juncal Glacier, Chilean Andes

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Dan Bailey Photography

A Chat with Professional Adventure Photographer Dan Bailey

One of my favorite things about blogging is when I actually get to meet someone in person who I met through the blogging and social media world. Last month, I finally got to meet Dan Bailey, a professional adventure and outdoor photographer who I’ve been following online for years. Dan was traveling through Minneapolis and we were able to get together for lunch. It was fantastic to meet him in person and to learn more about his inspiring career and life in Alaska. His work is absolutely breathtaking and while we were talking I finally learned how he captured some of his most stunning masterpieces from the open window of a tiny yellow 1947 Cessna 120 flying over the mountains of Alaska. Dan also runs a photography website at www.danbaileyphoto.com filled with amazing tips and resources on how to learn and improve your photography.

Here is my exclusive interview with Dan. Hope you enjoy it!

Dan Bailey Photography

Dan Bailey doing what he loves best! Photo credit: Dan Bailey

Tell me a little bit about your background. Where did you grow up? What did you study in school and when did you first learn photography?

I was born in Colorado and lived there until I was five. Then I moved around quite bit, east coast, Kansas City, Cincinnati, boarding school in Maine, high school in Lawrence, Kansas, then Boston for college, and then back to Colorado for a few years before moving to Alaska.

I was a pretty rambunctious kid who was always running around, riding my bike and playing outside. I got into guitar when I was 15, and then I bought my first camera in 1990 when I was 22. I studied recording engineer and music production at Berklee College of Music, but by the time I graduated, the photography seed had already matured into a true love for cameras and photography.

You got a degree in music in college but ended up pursuing photography as a career. What was the defining moment that made you follow your dreams and go on an your epic trip to Nepal?

After I was done with college, photography kept growing on me and I begun to realize that I might be better suited to career that has me running around outside than sitting in windowless recording studios. Guess I didn’t quite think that one through… 😉 I had started taking some photography trips and became aware of Galen Rowell, who was preeminent outdoor adventure photographer of our time. He’s without a doubt my biggest influence.

At the time, I was still living in Boston while trying to figure out how to make a living by traveling and taking pictures. Then, one day, I saw an ad for a Photo Workshop trip to Mustang, Nepal with Galen Rowell in the back of Outdoor Photographer Magazine. This was 1993, and the region of Mustang had only just been opened up to outsiders the year before. To me, this was a dream trip, so I called right away, reserved my spot, maxed out all my credit cards and it was a done deal.

I figured what better way to get track to becoming a pro adventure travel photographer than taking a workshop with the guy who invented the profession. It really was the beginning for me, and certainly the biggest thing I’d ever done. I consider my 1993 Nepal trip, and my 1994 trip to Pakistan to be the defining events in my profession journey.

What did you learn about photography and yourself during your trips to Nepal and Pakistan?

More than anything else, those two experiences reaffirmed my love for wilderness, exploration and travel. I knew that I wanted more. With photography, it was simply an opportunity to shoot in some of the most amazing locations on the planet and coming away with powerful imagery. And, of course, refining my technique and my creative eye, that process never ends. Looking back, I’m still very proud of the photos I shot on those two trips.

Dan Bailey Photography

Photo Credit: Dan Bailey

When did you decide to become a professional photographer? How did you move from photography as a hobby to a career?

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Duck, Outer Banks

What to Do Off-Peak in the Outer Banks

The Outer Banks, a 130 mile stretch of barrier islands off the coast of North Carolina is perhaps best known for its endless beaches and luxurious vacation homes for rent for those craving a beach vacation in the heat of the summer. However, there are many other amazing things to do in the Outer Banks when you visit off peak and best of all, the hordes of crowds have long gone home.

My husband and I took our two children to the Outer Banks in the middle of October and it was a magical time to visit. First of all, I hate crowds so having stretches of beach all to ourselves was delightful. Second, I am not a person who likes to lay in the sun. If I’m on a beach, I need to be doing something active and it is just too darn hot in the summer to be very active. If we had visited in the high season of summer, we would have had an entirely different experience and perspective of the Outer Banks. October in the Outer Banks was magnificent!

We stayed in the quaint, less developed seaside town of Duck. After much research, we found a wonderful home to rent that was less than a five-minute walk to both the beach for sunrise and the Sound for sunset. Duck is more upscale than the other popular hyper-developed towns of Nags Head and Kill Devil Hills which were developed long before Duck. Those towns felt like row after row of enormous vacation rental beach homes looking out at ugly strip malls and lacking character and charm. The only advantages I saw in staying there is you have close access to the beach and also many of the restaurants in Duck shut down for the season in October. We found ourselves doing at least a thirty minute drive to dinner each night but staying in Duck was worth it given its unique charm and character.

Duck, Outer Banks

Where else would you find an oversized red Adirondack Chair with a beautiful sunset like this all to yourself? Duck, Outer Banks

If you go off-season, here are some of the highlights of wonderful activities you can do.

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Duck, Outer Banks, North Carolina

Watching the Sunrise on the Outer Banks of North Carolina

“The Outer Banks National Scenic Byway traverses one of the nation’s great wild and scenic coastal landscapes encompassing the unique maritime culture of 21 coastal villages”. – The Outer Banks Travel Guide 

On our first morning in the sleepy beach town of Duck in the Outer Banks off the coast of North Carolina my alarm went off at 6 am. The entire beach house we rented was fast asleep yet I was wide awake with jittery anticipation. I had planned to wake up and walk to the ocean to watch the sunrise.

The sky was still inky black except for the glow of light from the moon and the brilliance of the stars shining high above. It was too early to go so I laid there in bed, staring out the bedroom window waiting for a tiny sliver of light and a sign that it was time to get dressed and head out. I tossed and turned but couldn’t fall back asleep. Thankfully by 6:30, I saw the first streak of light off in the horizon and knew it wouldn’t be too much longer until the sun began to rise and paint the sky.

I quietly got dressed, grabbed my camera, hat and house key and was out the door descending into the darkness. The humid ocean air gently blanketed my face and the smell of salt and sand awakened me. The sound of birds, wind and waves reminded me of where I was. On a thin sandy stretch of land that would give me sunrise and sunset all within a five-minute walk.

To the west laid the shoreline of the Currituck Sound, an impressive habitat for waterfowl who migrate here every winter and return north in the spring. To the east awaited the sandy shoreline of the Atlantic Ocean with its powerful waves evolving and changing the landscape of the Outer Banks every single day. All in all, the 130 miles of barrier islands that form the Outer Banks is covered in endless sand, water and beach as far as the eye can see. It is quite a unique place.

I walked the short distance to the beach under the moonlight sky. When I looked up, I could see thousands of stars sparkling making me smile. My heart fluttered with excitement and anticipation. I was finally going to watch the sunrise!  Unfortunately it is not very often I wake up to see the sunrise and it is even less often that I see it over the ocean. The memory of the last sunrise I saw months ago at the top of a mountain in the Osa Peninsula of Costa Rica brings me joy and gratitude. I knew that I was in for a special gift.

When I reached the steep sandy incline to the beach, I could hear the thunder of waves crashing against the shore and the cry of the sea gulls. I climbed up the slippery slope of sand and arrived on top with an extraordinary view of the shore. The beach was endless and I could see for miles upon miles. There was not a soul on it except for me.

Sunrise on Duck, Outer Banks

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Mitchell Lake, Ely MN

The Glow of Autumn in Northern Minnesota

The magical glow of autumn colors in Northern Minnesota is one of the most beautiful displays of color I have ever seen. Given the fact that we have over 12,000 lakes to choose from in the state, there are plenty of beautiful places to see Minnesota’s fall colors. One of my favorite places to go is about a five-hour drive north of Minneapolis to Ely, one of the launching off points to the Boundary Waters Wilderness and Canoe Area (BWWCA) that borders Canada.

The BWWCA is one of the largest federally protected wilderness areas in the United States with an area of 1.1 million acres of untouched lakes, streams and forests, and is also one of the most pristine wilderness areas I have ever visited. If you are lucky, you may see a bear, wolf or even a moose in the wild and you will always hear the melodic song of the loon, Minnesota’s state bird.

Fall is one of the best times to visit Ely as the light graces the changing colors of the leaves and the deep blue sky is vibrant and pure. The fresh scent of the air or even the smoke of a campfire fills me with warmth and happiness. There is no place I’d rather be than outside hiking in the wilderness taking in the beauty of the changing leaves.

Unfortunately this fall we did not make it up north and instead opted for a visit out east to North Carolina and Virginia. Although we had a fantastic trip with gorgeous weather, we missed the peak colors this year (the leaves peaked about two weeks later than normal given our warm September). It is still beautiful here in Minneapolis yet I am sad to have missed our annual trip up north this fall. To ensure we make it back next fall, we have already reserved our accommodations. In the meantime, I will settle with remembering these lovely photos from our trip last October to Ely.

Ely, Minnesota

Ely, Minnesota

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Manuel Antonio Park Costa Rica

Pura Vida: A Window into Costa Rican Life

“I stuck my head out the window this morning and spring kissed me bang in the face.” – Langston Hughes

“Pura Vida“, she smiled as she handed me a cup of savory rich Costa Rican coffee. “Gracias” I replied playfully, letting my rusty Spanish bounce off of my tongue. We had just arrived at our hotel in Manuel Antonio, and would be spending an entire week in Costa Rica for our family Spring vacation. When the waitress left, my twelve-year-old son who had just started learning Spanish at school asked me what “pura vida” meant. I told him that it was not exactly easy to translate. Instead, it was something that would have to be experienced in order to fully comprehend its meaning. He shrugged his shoulders at my response, looking a little bit miffed. Over the course of the next nine days he would certainly learn, I assured him. He would just have to be patient.

We would see nature like never before – such as sloths, monkeys, rainbow-colored grasshoppers, venomous snakes, and lots of beautiful birds. We would play in the waves of the ocean at sunset, walk high above the jungle on suspension bridges, zip-line above the trees, canyon down waterfalls, ride inner tubes down the rapids of a river, and horseback ride below a volcano. We would stay way up at the top of a mountain at a typical Costa Rican farm where we would be served hot rice and beans with friend plantains. We would constantly have to pinch ourselves that we were in a place so utterly beautiful and serene. Yes, we would experience Costa Rica’s pura vida in a little over a week.

If there are two words that sum up Costa Rica, it is “Pura Vida”. Literally translated as “Pure Life”, Pura Vida means much more than its basic definition. The saying can be used as simply as  “you’re welcome” or “hello”. Or even as a statement or a response to “how are you”. Yet in my opinion, Pura Vida symbolizes an entire way of life that Ticos (the nickname for Costa Ricans) enjoy. A life filled with appreciation, love and gratitude for the beauty of their amazing surroundings and nature. An energy and joy of simply being alive.

Gifted with some of the greatest biodiversity of flora and fauna on earth, there is no better place to experience pura vida than in Costa Rica. In her canopies of rainforest filled with life and her mystical volcanoes peeking out of the clouds. In her majestic sunrises and sunsets painting the sky in hues of pink, purple, orange and red. In her endless species of flowers delighting the eyes, the roar of the howler monkeys at the first sign of dawn or a pair of scarlet macaws flying directly overhead. There is no place on earth where one feels more of the pure beauty of life than in Costa Rica.

Here is my window into the meaning of pura vida….

Tulemar Vacation Rentals, Manuel Antonio, Costa RicaTulemar Vacation Rentals, Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica

Manuel Antonio Park Costa RicaManuel Antonio Park Costa Rica

Manuel Antonio Park Costa Rica

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Sunset, Lake Harriet, Minneapolis, MN

The Elements of a Beautiful Minnesota Sunset

“Clouds come floating into my life, no longer to carry rain or usher storm, but to add color to my sunset sky”. –  Rabindranath Tagore

Those who have followed my blog or my Instagram account for a while, know by now that I am in love with sunsets. I have been called the “sunset queen”  or “sunset chaser” by many friends and followers and have been known to jump on my bicycle and ride down the hill at breakneck speed to reach our lovely urban lake if the clouds and the light are right.

What I love so much about sunsets is that every single one is unique and there is always an element of surprise. The unfolding of a sunset can change into a vast array of different colors all within a matter of minutes or can just remain relatively the same. Clouds often add an extra element of delight to a sunset. I often find the best sunsets of all after a storm. Once the storm has passed, the thick water-laden clouds burst with beautiful hues of color and rays of light.

I’m fortunate to live in a state that has well over 10,000 different lakes to choose from to watch the sunset. Obviously I stick to just a few. However you can never be too far away from the perfect body of water to watch the sky dance. For me, each sunset brings its own element of surprise, awe, joy and wonder. Mother nature at her finest hour reminding us that beauty exists within the world every single day. Here are a few of my favorites from the land of 10,000+ lakes.

The fisherman

Sunset, Lake Harriet, Minneapolis, MNSunset, Lake Harriet, Minneapolis, MN

Sunset, Lake Harriet, Minneapolis, MN

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Jean Baptiste Jean Jospeph, Isador Gallery, Haiti

The Textures of Haiti

“Men Anpil, Chay Pa Lou” = “Many Hands Make the Load Light”. Haitian proverb

Haiti is often a misunderstood place. Besides the poverty and squalor, there is beauty to be found amidst its incredible art and culture. When visiting Haiti, one has to keep an open mind in order to comprehend her immense problems and appreciate the good things that this country has to offer the intrepid spirit. I will not lie, travel in Haiti is difficult. However, the rewards for those who seek to visit this place are immense. Alongside the poverty and despair exists a resilience and hope in the future and a beauty that inspires through Haiti’s incredible art.

Take a walk with me and embrace the colorful, vibrant textures of Haiti.

The capital city Port-au-Prince is overcrowded, congested and chaotic yet also home to some of the greatest artisans, artists and designers in the entire country. Croix-des-Bouquets, a community on the outskirts of the capital,  is home to over 1,000 metal artisans with over 60 different shops and studios creating social change and opportunity within the community. It is a magical, happy place filled with energy and life.

Croix-des-Bouquets is also home world-famous beadwork artist and Vodou priest Jean Baptiste Jean Joseph. Some of his beadwork sells in the thousands of dollars to the rich and famous. His studio is a magical, spiritual place filled with so much colorful beadwork and art that it leaves you dizzy with inspiration.

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Roses in Bloom at the Lyndale Park Rose Garden

 “Instructions for living a life: Pay attention. Be astonished. Tell about it”. – Mary Oliver

Two weeks ago I went to the beautiful Lyndale Park Rose Garden next to Lake Harriet in Minneapolis to marvel at the beautiful spring flowers. Our summer so far has been temperamental. Wet, cool, thunderous and bursts of sunshine. Coincidently, the weather seems to have matched my mood.  To tame the stirring inside my soul, I have began practicing mindfulness and the art of living in the now. To paying attention to the moment and not dwelling on the past or worrying about the future. It has immensely helped slow down my type-A personality who prefers to be moving all the time, whether at home or on the road.

Like the Rose Garden, I am amazed at the subtle transformation that just a few weeks can bring. Two weeks ago there were no roses in bloom and today it is a brilliant burst of life and color. Similar to my soul, the change of daily meditation and mindfulness has been immense.  For that I am truly grateful.

Take a walk with me through the Rose Garden. Close your eyes for a moment and hear the song of the birds and breathe in the delicate fragrance of the roses.

“You can muffle the drum, and you can loosen the strings of the lyre – but who shall command the skylark not to sing?” – Kahil Gibran

“The real happiness of life is to enjoy the present, without any anxious dependence upon the future.” – Lucius Annaeus Seneca  

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Rose Garden, Minneapolis, Minnesota

A Visit to the Lyndale Park Rose Garden in Late Spring

“In all things of nature, there is something of the marvelous”. – Aristotle

I adore the Lyndale Park Rose Garden not far from my home in Southwest Minneapolis, and try to stop there a few times throughout the spring, summer and fall to see what flowers are in bloom. I am never disappointed as it is always so beautiful and peaceful. I run, walk and bike regularly around Lake Harriet which is right next to the Rose Garden yet I rarely take the time to wander inside its lovely gardens. The Peace and Perennial Gardens are my favorites and if I am feeling like I truly need an escape from urban life, I wander behind the gardens into the Roberts Bird Sanctuary where I have seen owls, woodpeckers and even bald eagles.

Early Spring is always a wonderful time to visit as I am craving color and life after a long, cold winter in Minnesota. Unfortunately this spring was wet, cold and difficult meaning I did not venture to the Rose Garden until just this past week. I am so glad I did because the peonies were all in their final stages of color and brilliance. A select few of the roses had bloomed as well.

Rose Garden, Minneapolis, Minnesota

Rose Garden, Minneapolis, MinnesotaThe Rose Garden is the second oldest public garden in the United States and was designed in 1908 with row after row of rectangular plots that can fit over 3,000 plants in 100 different varieties. It is run and managed by the Minneapolis Parks and Recreation Board which also maintains Minneapolis’ vast park system that traverses the city and its lakes.

“So come, and slowly we will walk through green gardens and marvel at this strange and sweet world”. – Sylvia Plath

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Manuel Antonio Park Costa Rica

Sunsets of Costa Rica: A Reflective Photoblog

“Life is not measured by the breaths you take, but by the moments that take your breath away”. – unknown

We did it. Our first real epic family adventure and it was absolutely amazing. I confess that my expectations were a bit guarded when we finally agreed to do a big international trip with the kids. It is not that they are unruly kids. But they are kids. I have traveled for many years all over the place going to some of the furthest reaches of the earth but I have never brought the kids.

So this time we did. We waited many years, doing various family trips around the US and when they finally reached the age where we thought we could give it a try we did. We packed our bags, boarded a plane and headed south of the border to Costs Rica. And it was marvelous.

We didn’t stay at an all-inclusive resort on the beach but drove all over the place having quite the adventure for our first land trip out of the country. It was the best family trip we have ever been on, hands down. There were no meltdowns, no drama, no sibling bickering or bell bottom tears. Instead, it was nothing but laughing, smiling, enjoying each others’ company and getting out of our comfort zones to try new, daring things. 

I came back from this trip with a new lease on life. On a personal level, the past few months have been emotionally challenging for me. I was often overwhelmed, stressed and feeling like I was losing control. I realized that I had not been feeling at ease for months –quite frankly since the election. My world and everything that I have cared so deeply about was unraveling and falling apart. I was in a constant panic about the crumbling of human rights, the dismantling of the climate and environmental policies, the loss of dignity and the utter hatred, violence and cruelty surrounding the world.

I was constantly on the phone with my senators fighting, begging, and pleading to protect international foreign aid, to make sure mothers would have clean water for their children and that my friends in the community wouldn’t be deported and sent back. It was consuming my life to a point that I was constantly on edge, anxious and filled with dread and despair. I felt like a heavy weight was pushing me down and I was losing my breath.

Until I just simply couldn’t take it anymore. I could no longer obsess and be miserable over things that were out of my control and I couldn’t change. I stopped reading my friends posts on Facebook, stopped getting worked up about every little thing (that albeit in my opinion is terrible yet I can’t really change), and now I skim the newspaper. Slowly but surely the suffocating blanket of anxiety lifted and I could breathe.

I brought my focus back to the things I can change. I can continue to use my voice, I can be kind and good-hearted, I can give back to others and I can give myself some slack. I can live in the moment, and be grateful for the things I do have. Yes, there are millions upon millions of people in this world who are suffering but I can’t let my soul die to save them. I also know that my problems are “first-world” problems or even problems associated with living in the liberal middle class. Not everyone can go on a week trip to Costa Rica! But I’m human and like every single human being on the planet, we all have issues, worries and concerns whether it be health, economic or simply survival.

So I’ve turned over a new leaf. I’m practicing mindfulness and living more in the moment. I’m committed to enjoying what I have, my life, my family and as always to giving back and making a difference. That is what one week in Costa Rica with my family did. It brought me back to the now. To being alive, happy and free.

Manuel Antonio Park Costa Rica

“Some days there won’t be a song in your heart. Sing Anyway”. – Emory Austin

Manuel Antonio Park Costa Rica

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