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?

CULTURE TRAVEL PHOTOGRAPHY
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

TRAVEL PHOTOGRAPHY Weekly Photo Challenges
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

CULTURE TRAVEL PHOTOGRAPHY Weekly Photo Challenges

On Assignment with National Geographic Photographer Catherine Karnow

“I have been in a love affair with photography from day one, back in high school. Everything I know about photography has been from my own personal experience. I live and breathe photography. It is a beautiful way to see the world and connect with people. Discovering how much I love to teach is an extension of that joy. It is my job as a teacher to help my students express what is inside them, to help them express the beauty they see and feel.” – Catherine Karnow, professional photographer

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be in the shoes of a National Geographic photographer on assignment? If you are someone who is passionate about photography and seeing the world, there is no doubt that being an acclaimed photojournalist tops high on your list of dream jobs. Like most children of the early 80s, I grew up reading National Geographic and was mesmerized by the photos of cultures and places so incredibly different from my own. Some of these images have remained forever engrained within my heart such as Steve McCurry’s iconic photograph of the beautiful haunting green-eyed Afghan girl who graced the cover of National Geographic in 1985 and has captivated the world ever since.

2_catherinekarnow__mg_6231_proc_final_

Catherine Karnow, Chinatown, San Francisco. ©Gary Draluck

The power of photography is life-changing and transformative. Photographs have a way of touching us in surprisingly emotional ways. Perhaps this is why so many people love photography. It is an art like no other that involves both technical and creative skills, as well as an eye for seeing something magical. An element of photography that is often overlooked is the actual experience of it. A conversation with professional photographer, Catherine Karnow, whose impressive career has spanned over 40 years and whose work has appeared in National Geographic, National Geographic Traveler, Smithsonian and other major international publications, enlightened me on the reasons why the experience of photography is so very special.

Catherine had an enchanting childhood. She was born and raised in Hong Kong by exceptional parents. Her father was the renowned journalist Stanley Karnow; and her mother Annette was a gifted artist who infused creativity into every aspect of her life. Annette’s eye for beauty and her passion for art was a strong influence on Catherine. From her father she learned a strong work ethic and the skill to be a story-teller. Her parents allowed her a great measure of independence and freedom, and as a young child she wandered around alone among the back streets of the Chinese fishing village where she grew up.

Catherine took her first photo class in high school and under the tutelage of an excellent teacher, she fell in love with photography. She graduated with honors from Brown University with degrees in Comparative Literature and Semiotics. After a brief career as a filmmaker, Catherine’s passion for photography drew her to Paris where she landed her first assignment 1986 and has been shooting professionally ever since.

One of the highlights of Catherine’s forty-year career is her special focus on Vietnam. Catherine’s fascination with Vietnam began in 1990, when her father interviewed General Giap for the New York Times. Although Catherine was not the photographer on that assignment, she found an opportunity to go to Vietnam on her own a few months later and had excellent access to not only General Giap, but also to many of Vietnam’s living heroes at that time. Catherine’s friendship with General Giap and his family opened the doors to twenty-six years of photography in Vietnam, a country that Catherine calls her spiritual home.

CULTURE TRAVEL PHOTOGRAPHY
Ely, Minnesota

The Shine of Fall

“Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns.” –  George Eliot

This morning I took a run around my favorite urban lake and was amazed to see how fast the leaves were falling. We had just returned from a week away in the heat and sun of Florida and in that week it feels as if autumn has come and gone. Despite the warm weather, the leaves are past their prime and falling like rain throughout the air. Swirling colors or red, orange and yellow fly through the sky like birds and land piled up on the sidewalk.

The shine of fall is on its way out and there are only a few more weeks left until we reach the barren browns of November. Fall is always one of my favorite seasons in Minnesota as the light is so intense and the colors are truly a testament of the magic of Mother Nature. The air is pure and I feel so alive with energy. I try to take as much of it as I can possibly can, and store it inside me to help get me through the cold, colorless days of winter that lie ahead.

Sometimes it works. But usually I have to fly south at least once during the winter months for a break. I am lucky I can otherwise I would find it very difficult to survive a long Minnesota winter without walking barefoot in the sand or feeling the wind against my legs.

As for now, I reflect on the gorgeous colors of the shine of fall and what remains. Here are some of my favorite photos from fall in Minnesota.

“Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower”. –  Albert Camus

 

Minnesota Fall Leaves

“Now Autumn’s fire burns slowly along the woods and day by day the dead leaves fall and melt”. –  William Allingham

CULTURE TRAVEL TRAVEL PHOTOGRAPHY Weekly Photo Challenges
Mitchell Lake, Ely MN

Nostalgic for Fall

The colors have come alive with magic this weekend in Northern Minnesota reminding me of all the fall weekend trips I did as a child up north. It was a family tradition that was so special that I’ve continued it with my own children.

This weekend we drove about five hours north of Minneapolis to Ely, one of the launching off points to the Boundary Waters Wilderness and Canoe Area. The pristine air, lakes and forests is breathtaking and reminds me so much of my youth growing up in Minnesota.

Fall is the time of year I feel so alive with energy 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 nostalgia.

Here are a few photos from our weekend up north. Many more will come soon. It is way too beautiful here not to share.


“Autumn is a second Spring when every leaf is a flower” -Albert Camus

My daughter and I went paddling to the beaver dam at the end of the lake. It was so incredibly serene. All we heard was the sound of the birds. 




And the sunsets were mesmerizing. 



This post was inspired by the Weekly Photo Challenge: Nostalgic.

Minnesota TRAVEL BY REGION TRAVEL PHOTOGRAPHY Weekly Photo Challenges
Lake Harriet, Minneapolis, Minnesota

A Summer of Minnesota Sunsets

There is something about summer that is truly fun. It is a time of year that I always feel once again like I am sixteen. The warm summer skies and sun make me come alive with energy and a sense of utter freedom that I only feel this time of year. Perhaps it is because after months of being trapped indoors, I can finally be outside for hours and hours every day. Or else it is the warm humid air or the feeling of the silky cool lake upon my skin that bring me back to my amazingly fun days of youth. The smell of lake water a constant reminder of my childhood growing up surrounded by lakes. The fragrance of roses, watermelon, sunscreen and an evening fire.

Summer is the one time I allow myself to truly let go, to dive in and embrace life. To not be stuck inside on my computer but to be outside running, biking, walking, swimming and reading under a big shade tree. To drive with the windows down letting my long hair blow wild, singing to the radio at the top of my lungs.

This summer I took on a new adventure and tried my best to head down to the lake every night and catch the sunset. As long as there were some clouds to add color and it wasn’t raining, I either jumped on my bike or took the dog down to the lake to capture the stunning views of summer’s ultimate gift: Her extraordinary sunsets. For me, this has been a summer of sunsets and here are some of my absolute favorites from my lovely neighborhood lake.

Lake Harriet, Minneapolis, Minnesota

Minnesota TRAVEL TRAVEL BY REGION TRAVEL PHOTOGRAPHY United States Weekly Photo Challenges

Morning at the Bell Tower in Prague

“Prague never let’s you go… this dear little mother has sharp claws.”- Franz Kafka. 

Prague is one of those cities that seduces one’s soul. It is a magically beautiful city that is easy to fall in love with its architectural charm, its open air squares, cobblestoned streets and endless array of terra-cotta rooftops, medieval churches and spires. Voted as one of the top touristic destinations in Europe, Prague has obviously been discovered and the best way to see her unspoiled beauty is to get up and going early.

On our last morning in Prague, we set off right after breakfast to Old Town Square to climb the Bell Tower knowing that if we were lucky, we would beat the crowds. Our timing was perfect and there is nothing quite like getting a bird’s-eye view of the city as it wakes up and comes to life.

Old Town Hall (Staroměstská radnice) was built during the reign of King John of Luxembourg in 1338 as the seat of the Old Town administration. The oldest part of the complex consists of a lovely Gothic tower with a bay chapel and a unique astronomical clock – known as the Orloj –which is the oldest and most elaborate functioning astronomical clock in the world.  Although watching the hourly presentation of the “12 Apostles” is a huge tourist attraction, the real pleasure of the Old Town Hall is its remarkable views of the city from the Bell Tower.

As you climb up a series of winding steps, you are delighted with a sense of awe and wonder at the views below. Here are a few of my favorites.

Bell Tower Prague

Bell Tower Prague

Czech Republic TRAVEL TRAVEL BY REGION TRAVEL PHOTOGRAPHY Weekly Photo Challenges
sunset on Lake Harriet, Minneapolis MN

Pure Minnesota

“When I admire the wonders of a sunset or the beauty of the moon, my soul expands in the worship of the creator”. –  Mahatma Gandhi

There is nothing more spectacular than a Minnesota summer. After a long, snowy and cold winter when the sun sets before five summer arrives and the world comes to life again. The birds sing, the air smells of flowering trees, and the sunsets that grace our 10,000 lakes are out of this world.

I am fortunate to live in a large city that is filled with culture, fantastic restaurants and tons to do but is also blessed with nature. Minneapolis is nicknamed the “city of lakes” and right outside my door is one of four urban lakes that flows through the heart of the city. I spend time here almost every single day, year round, running, biking and walking. They even plow the snow off the running and biking trail in the winter.

I’ve seen bald eagles, loons, muskrats, red foxes, turtles, blue herons, white egrets and even wild turkeys, all along my most favorite urban Lake Harriet. It never ceases to amaze me that in the heart of a city you can see so much nature.

My most favorite time to enjoy the lake is in the summer when the sun doesn’t set until almost ten o’clock and it is warm, humid and inviting. Last night, I took a walk before bed to catch a glimpse of the dramatic sunset. It had been hot, humid and stormy yesterday so I know I’d get a purely sensational sunset and I was right. Here is pure Minnesota in all its glory. It is not fly-over land like some east and west coasters like to call it. It is beautiful and I sometimes have to pinch myself how lucky I am to live in such a wonderful place.

sunset on Lake Harriet, Minneapolis MN

Minnesota TRAVEL TRAVEL BY REGION TRAVEL PHOTOGRAPHY United States Weekly Photo Challenges

The inspiration behind David Bookbinder’s Flower Mandalas

I was wandering around Instagram one afternoon when I came across the most beautiful flower creations I have ever laid eyes upon. Intrigued, I delightfully went through each photo in awe and wonder how on earth the creator, David Bookbinder, made these incredible flower mandalas, each with a deep inspiring meaning behind them. Little did I know there is a fascinating story behind David’s work and he graciously agreed to let me introduce his work on my blog. I am certain you will be as amazed, inspired and in love with David’s flower mandalas as I am.

Following is an introduction written by David about the inspiration behind his flower mandalas and his recently completed book, Fifty-Two Flower Mandalas.  All Images and text Copyright David J. Bookbinder.

Your vision will become clear only when you look into your heart. Who looks outside, dreams. Who looks inside, awakens.
– Carl Jung

Fifty-Two Flower Mandalas - cover 12x12.indd

Fifty-Two Flower Mandalas came about because my numbers were in alignment. When I began it, I’d just turned 60, was almost 20 years out from a life-altering event, and had been a psychotherapist for nearly 10 years. My intention was to distill into one volume what I’d gleaned from these experiences. As often happens with art, creating it brought about something more.

The path to the Flower Mandalas themselves goes back to 1993, when a series of medical errors nearly took my life. At the time I was an English grad student at the University at Albany. What happened in a hospital there, which included a near-death experience, divided my life into two parts: who I had been and who I was becoming. To paraphrase the Grateful Dead, it’s been a long, strange trip since then.

Red_and_Yellow_Dahlia_IV_sRGB_800x800

Copyright David J. Bookbinder

CULTURE TRAVEL PHOTOGRAPHY
Mkuru Maasai Training Camp

The Face of the Maasai

Last July, I spent two days with a Maasai community at The Mkuru Training Camp in Uwiro Village, about a three-hour drive away from Moshi. The Mkuru Training Camp is located at the foothills of Mount Meru, just outside Arusha National Park, within one of the most important biodiversity areas of Tanzania: the Maasai Steppe.

My visit still remains one of the most spectacular cultural experiences of my life. I was literally the only guest there and had the thrill of doing a four-hour tour on foot with one of the Maasai warriors and a taking a one-on-one beading class with his mother. Despite modernization and the threat to their way of life, the Maasai still continue to live the way they have for centuries. Their beautiful dress and faces are unforgettable.

Here are a few of my favorites.

Mkuru Maasai Training Camp

Jacobo’s mother

Africa Tanzania TRAVEL TRAVEL BY REGION TRAVEL PHOTOGRAPHY Weekly Photo Challenges
Guatemala

A tribute to the beauty of Mother Earth

“Sooner or later, we will have to recognise that the Earth has rights, too, to live without pollution. What mankind must know is that human beings cannot live without Mother Earth, but the planet can live without humans”. –  Evo Morales

Oh Mother Earth how I love thee. I am disheartened by the constant heartache you have to face.  The earthquakes, the floods, the wildfires and the taking away of your beauty. It saddens me greatly. You are such a beautiful place! I sincerely hope that future generations learn to love and protect you and don’t throw the beauty we have away. There is so much working against you.

As I breathe in the thick smoky, polluted air today that has blown in to Minnesota all the way from the fierce wildfires burning in Alberta, Canada, I am sad and filled with despair. When will we take better care of our most important thing we have? Our planet? 

Of course some of these forces are simply due to Mother Nature but many other devastating things are due to humans. How will you handle over 8 billion people living and taking your resources? I wish there was an easy answer.

Eagle Mountain, Minnesota

Our beautiful pristine Northern Minnesota.

“When we recognise the virtues, the talent, the beauty of Mother Earth, something is born in us, some kind of connection, love is born”. – Thich Nhat Hanh

Guatemala

The green lush countryside of Guatemala

“You carry Mother Earth within you. She is not outside of you. Mother Earth is not just your environment. In that insight of inter-being, it is possible to have real communication with the Earth, which is the highest form of prayer”. –  Thich Nhat Hanh

Conservation/Environment Global Issues SOCIAL GOOD TRAVEL PHOTOGRAPHY Weekly Photo Challenges