Montana, A Huge Breath of Fresh Air!What makes one creative? Is it place, is it age, is it genetics, experience . . ? As I crossed back into Montana from Idaho along I-90, returning from a recent trip to the Pacific Northwest, I felt like I was back home. Immediately after passing the "welcome to Montana" billboard, I rolled down the window, even while the snow was clipping by at 50 mph, and snatched a gulp of cold, clean, crisp Montana air. Next, I happily pushed the clock ahead one hour, to catch up to the mountain time zone - just being in the mountain time zone makes me feel more at home.
Do you have a place that makes you feel like you're at home? Does your soul know when it's connected to the earth and the air? Where on this planet do you feel most connected, balanced and at home? For me it's Montana and the Rocky Mountains, particularly the eastern slopes where it's cold, windy, and the sky's are as large as my imagination with boundaries set only by the rugged cliffs, endless sky and my ability to navigate the terrain.
Being in a place that makes me feel like I'm at home is what allows me to be creative. This does not mean I dont travel or that I'm not creative when I'm shooting on the road, quite the contrary. It means that place is important to me and it's important to have a place that allows you to feel at home. For me that's Glacier Country in Montana. It's beautiful, remote, timeless, rugged, hard, clean, and free. There are no Starbuck's, no Costco's, no traffic and few people. It does get lonely at times, cell service often sucks, there are fewer job opportunities and housing is marginal, and I have to work harder than most of my colleagues, but the quality of life that it all brings and the creativity that it allows me to generate makes it all seem like the right place at the right time! Are you living in your creative place?
Spring In East Glacier and Grizzly Bears
It's spring in East Glacier, a good deal of local snow pack left last week, but there's still mountains in my yard, and today it's cold and the forecast is for more winter like weather. It's almost May so it can't be long now until we see more dirt, grass and soil than ice and snow! Already we are only 50 days from the longest day of the year, the trees are budding in places, all a sure signs of spring. It also means the bears are out and lurking around. Be sure to give yourself a bear spray refresher (know how it works) and above all, be sure you have a fresh can on you and ready for use when you're out!
More on Grizzly Bears. I'm often asked where to find bears, how to photograph them, how close do I get and so on. I always remark, "grizzly bears are where you find them, they are anywhere and everywhere at any time. You have to be on guard and alert at all times. Don't approach them, and for heavens sake, don't try to track them down." I very much enjoy a good photograph of a grizzly bear but I do not seek the critters out, instead I use opportunity and seize it when it presents itself and without danger.
To me there's something magical and invigorating about living and working in a landscape where a bear is on top of the pyramid, but I also give them respect, their space, and do whatever I can to avoid encounters with them while in the back-country.
On that note, this is the time of year that I pay special attention to what's going on around me when I'm outside. Since I like to roam widely and make my own path - trails and obvious routs are not my style - trails are for hikers, and I'm an explorer - in the spring I try to be more visible and less quite than ever. The bears like brush, creek bottoms and places where's there's lush green forbs growing. And soon, the boars will be chasing the sow's around which makes their exact locations unpredictable!
I dont recommend people set out in search of bears to photograph, at least not in Glacier National Park. The grizzly bears around here are well known for their aggressive and "territorial" behavior. If you want really to photography grizzly bears there are lots of great places in Alaska where you can get all the pictures you want and remain relatively safe doing it.
As a closing note, I'd like to thank the dedicated members of the Professional Outdoor Media Association for all the their generous support in electing me to the Board of Directors. I was honored to receive the nomination and now I'm very happy to accept the position! Thank you POMA!
COME TO MISSOULA, MT on May 3rd for a great presentation!
If you need something to do next Tuesday, come the University of Montana on May 3rd, where at 6:30 PM I'll be showing on the big screen, some of my images of the Rocky Mountain Front, and Ben Lamb of the Montana Wildlife Federation will be speaking about the Rocky Mountain Front - check it out here: http://bit.ly/muA4aL
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