Like many photographers, I would have to say that I have been strongly influenced by the work of Ansel Adams, though I will freely admit that I tend toward a pictorialist style that he argued passionately against. I envied his work with the National Park Service, during which, in his free time, he created a large number of his California images for which he is now justifiably famous. I always thought working as a photographer for the NPS would be really cool.
So it was with great astonishment in August of 2020, at a time when the world was all but shut down due to the Pandemic, that I received an email generated by the contact form on this website submitted by the Supervisory Park Ranger and Chief for Interpretation at the George Washington Birthplace National Monument and the Thomas Stone National Historic Site. Both locations are historic parks run by the National Park Service.
I am looking for a photographer to take some high-quality images of our park. I found your website and was impressed with your images of Death Valley and the desert. We are looking for 100-200 images.
We have a variety of areas throughout our parks such as a Colonial Revival Historic Area core with a number of structures and foundations, along with landscaping ranging from creeks, gardens, ponds, trees and flowers, and the Potomac River. Most of our [current photographic] collection are images that don’t truly capture what we are really looking for; a way for the photographs to speak to us and our visitors, the way yours do.”
To say I was excited is a major understatement. So it may surprise you to know that I actually suggested they reach out to another photographer I know who has a great deal of experience working with government agencies (given that I had exactly none at this point in time). They were grateful for my suggestion, but upon checking out his portfolio, they insisted that my work was what they were looking for.
We met in person a few weeks later and discussed the project, which was to photograph the two parks over the course of a year (from September 2020 through August 2021) to capture the essence of the parks in all four seasons, and we came to an agreement for my fee. For me, the job was exciting from the standpoint of not just being landscape photography but included interior and exterior architectural photography as well as some nature photography (animals on the grounds).
I visited each park at least once a month for the next 12 months, exploring all the areas each park had to offer. I was even granted special access inside the buildings to photograph the interiors when the pandemic caused the park service to close the buildings to the public.
So how well did this landscape photographer capture the essence of two historic parks for the National Park Service? Check out some of the images from the George Washington Birthplace National Monument below. (Note: all photographs taken by me, copyright of the NPS.)
And here are some images from the Thomas Stone National Historic Site. (Again, all images by me, copyright of the NPS)
So how do you think I did based on these images (just a few of those provided to the park service)? The NPS liked my work enough that I was asked to return to the George Washington Birthplace National Monument to photograph an archeological dig of the mysterious Building X in the summer of 2022, which was a blast.
The NPS updates their park websites frequently and it’s been fun seeing how they make use of my images throughout the updates.
I would like to thank the National Park Service for reaching out to me. Please don’t hesitate to reach out again!