“The reason that I keep writing is that all my most powerful messages about the fates of wild places that I care about need to have words as well as images.” – Galen Rowell
A wilderness photographer, climber and writer, Rowell was born on this date in 1940 and died in 2002 after devoting his final 30 years to photographing and writing about the world’s wild places. In the process, he won the Ansel Adams Award for Conservation Photography and established his own lasting legacy.
He was held in equal high regard for his writing on photography and on humanitarian and environmental issues and mountaineering. His remarkable 18 books included In the Throne Room of the Mountain Gods about the history of mountaineering on the Himalayan mountain K2, and Mountain Light: In Search of the Dynamic Landscape, one of the best selling “how-to” photo books of all time.
In addition to his many photo shoots and articles for such prestigious journals as Life, National Geographic, and Outdoor Photographer, he also produced myriad stand-alone shots. “Luckily,” he once said, “people tell me how they have had a particular landscape photograph of mine in their office or bedroom for 15 years and it always speaks to them strongly whenever they see it.”
Galen Rowell and the cover photo for one of his books
When asked his secret to photographic success, he said it was recognizing how film sees the world differently than the human eye and adjusting his shooting techniques to fit. “Sometimes those differences can make a photograph more powerful than what you actually observed. It’s remarkable.” As was he.
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