As a teenager, Glenn Randall got his first 35mm camera to document his rock-climbing
excursions, skiing trips, and "outdoor sports in general." His adventuresome
spirit and love of the Colorado wilderness has paid off. At age 47, he's
accumulated over 900 photo credits, which include 50 covers and images published
in Audubon, Outside, National Geographic Adventure, and New York Times Magazine,
among many others. And, although Randall's work has been included in numerous
publications, his own book of landscape photographs, Rocky Mountain National
Park Impressions, was published in 2004. His second book, Colorado: Wild and
Beautiful, will be available this spring. He describes himself as primarily
a mountain fine-art photographer. "Galen Rowell was a huge influence,
although I went the 4x5-format route," he comments.
and the Little Matterhorn after a 16-inch snow, Rocky Mountain
National Park, Colorado.
Taking a Critical View
Originally from California, Randall attended college at the University of Colorado
in Boulder, where he majored in journalism. He was offered an internship at
a newspaper called Silverton Standard & Miner, and then some friends told
him about a climb they were planning in Alaska. He declined the internship,
he says, "And off I went to Mount Huntington." He shot numerous
images with his Olympus OM-1, and some accompanied a story he wrote about the
excursion, which appeared in Alaska magazine in April, 1980. "This article
marked starting point of my free-lance career," he says.
Originally, he point out, "I was primarily a writer and shot pictures
on the side." Then one day he lost a job with Ford Times because they
didn't like his photos. "I decided it was either time to sell my
cameras or learn to use them much better." He improved his work by going
out and shooting often, taking workshops, "and looking at my results critically."
He learned much from Galen Rowell's book, Mountain Light, which taught
him about atmospheric optics (the science of how sunlight interacts with our
atmosphere), and impressed him with Rowell's tremendous passion for outdoor
photography and knowledge of his craft. During the late '80s, Randall
took a workshop in Telluride, Colorado, conducted by several photographers from
National Geographic. "I learned how hard pros work to produce their best
images; how much time they spend planning and scouting their shots."
Aspen," Rocky Mountain National Park.
All Photos © Glenn Randall, All Rights Reserved
He made the transition to doing more outdoor photography and invested in a
4x5 Zone VI camera. Later, he got an Ebony SW-45, a high-end wooden field camera
that's relatively lightweight. "I built a good focusing hood for
it that will stay on in windy conditions," he says. He sought ways to
make a cumbersome large-format camera handle more quickly. The SW-45 allows
Randall to keep the focusing hood and lens attached to the camera even when
it's packed, speeding setup. "I'm on a constant quest to save
weight," he adds. On a typical one-day photo shoot, he carries a pack
that weighs about 55 pounds.
Randall's investment in serious photo education and equipment has really
worked in his favor. In addition to his photo credits in various publications,
he attributes 85% of his income to selling prints through galleries and gift
shops in Colorado. He feels that selling prints is the toughest photo market,
"Because people have to love the image in the long run," as opposed
to glancing at it briefly in a magazine or for a month in a calendar. His corporate
clients include Sun Microsystems, Colorado Outward Bound, Cobe Laboratories,
and many outdoor-equipment companies. And he's still writing--currently,
Randall has authored seven books and over 200 magazine articles. He also teaches
photography field seminars through the Rocky Mountain Nature Association (www.rmna.org).
Columbine in Vestal Basin at sunset, Weminuche Wilderness.
All the prints he sells are fine-art landscapes. "Typically in the summer,
I backpack to shoot images. In the fall, I go on driving trips." He also
does a lot of snowshoeing in the winter, "Usually on day trips and occasionally
on multi-day trips, where I haul my gear in a mountaineering sled."
By his admission, Randall's favorite areas to photograph are Rocky Mountain
National Park, the Indian Peaks Wilderness, the Maroon Bells/Snowmass Wilderness
and the San Juan Mountains of southwest Colorado. As camping in Rocky Mountain
National Park and the Indian Peaks Wilderness is restricted to protect the environment,
many of his photo shoots are "one-day blitzes" from his home in
Boulder. This often involves getting up at 1:00 or 2:00 a.m. to photograph the
sunrise in remote locations.
He's learned to have patience and take his time. "It takes me about
10 days in the field, on average, to produce one image that will sell strongly
as a print." Randall estimates. "It's a slow, meticulous process."
He says that he produces his most powerful photographs in areas he knows well
and visits repeatedly.
Hale-Bopp setting over the Saber, Rocky Mountain National Park.