There are many ways to travel – on foot, atop two- or four-wheels across solid or rocky ground, through the air, or on the magical carpet some call imagination. Fortunately, master travel and outdoor photographer and author, Larry Lindahl, makes it easy for all to visit the many destinations he’s crossed off his itinerary by way of his breathtaking, vibrant photography and lyrical prose.
Even among southwest landscape photographers, Larry’s art stands out. He highlights unique landscapes taken from the perspective of a high bluff or off-trail trek that many of the most daring adventurers are reluctant to explore.
“When I started doing backcountry explorations that I knew few people would ever have the chance to do themselves, I saw a chance to share my experiences and bring joy to other people,” Larry says.
Here’s more about ArtisanHD’s latest Brand Ambassador.
An Artist’s Inspiration
Born into a typical family and raised in the Seattle, Washington area, Larry marvels at how he ever became an artist. “Somehow, I was born to be an artist,” he said. “But born into a family that didn’t have a clue about art, artists, or much of anything along those lines!”
That didn’t deter young Larry from envisioning himself as an artist with a special focus on nature. “I drew a picture for a class project, “What I want to be when I grew up”. The picture showed a guy in hiking boots, blue jeans, and an orange flannel shirt. He had an artist’s palette in one hand and an oil painter’s brush in the other hand!”
The wild and beautiful outdoors was the obvious subject, given his interests. “Skiing, hiking, mountain climbing, and backpacking all started in my youth. I climbed Mount Rainier in my teens, started backpacking throughout Grand Canyon in my thirties, and rowed an 18-foot raft the length of Grand Canyon in my fifties,” said Larry.
An Outdoor Photographer’s Journey
After attending college as an art major, Larry took a two-and-a-half years program, “Commercial Art Education” at a private college to better his chances to get a job. It certainly worked – his first job was as an Art Director in an advertising agency in Los Angeles where he stayed for 10 years.
“I hired several top photographers as an advertising art director,” he said. “As I was art directing photographers creating print ads for the ABC television network, I saw that I wanted to be doing what the photographers did and not just be the art director telling people what to do.”
Larry moved on and eventually settled in Sedona, in beautiful northern Arizona. “Sedona made me into a landscape photographer. It’s been an amazing journey,” he said.
Since becoming a professional outdoor photographer, Larry’s work has been featured in fine galleries throughout the Southwest, in traveling and permanent exhibits such as the Arizona RT 66 at Petrified Forest National Park and the Smithsonian Grand Canyon photography exhibit.
As he began to make gains in photography, Larry made a surprising discovery. “… A photo simply couldn’t tell the whole story. I wanted to capture the sounds of rushing rapids, the scent of the desert after a rain, the sense of wonder in finding a hidden ancient dwelling.”
Encouraged by “The Artist’s Way” workshop inspired by the Julia Cameron book of the same name, Larry began keeping a field journal as he hiked. The workshop’s teachings directly led to his first book, “… My goal became a reality when I presented my book proposal to Arizona Highways. I was thrilled when they published my first book, Secret Sedona: Sacred Moments in the Landscape, which includes both my photography and adventure essays. Since then I’ve published five more books!”
Partner with a Committed Printer
As an artist who aims to convey the full experience of a destination, Larry looks for a quality print vendor committed to his vision. ArtisanHD delivers on his high–quality requirements as an outdoor photographer.
“I was referred to ArtisanHD by painter Meg Harper. Her work includes vivid colors and she makes a lot of reproductions. I trusted her as a source for information on the best printers in the Phoenix Valley,” he said. “Artisan takes the extra step to produce top quality prints.”
Also, they ensure that precious masterpieces are delivered unharmed. “They package their metal prints for delivery and shipping in solid materials that gave me confidence that it would arrive at my client’s home in perfect condition.”
He explains, “Our first project included a 6-foot wide metal print. I was impressed at how carefully it was prepared for delivery. “Quality from beginning through completion and that’s reassuring in any business relationship.”
Read more of Larry’s interview about how he became an outdoor photographer and creates his artwork, below.
Full Interview with Larry Lindahl, ArtisanHD Brand Ambassador, Fall 2020
What inspired you to become an artist?
Somehow, I was born to be an artist. But born into a family that didn’t have a clue about art, artists, or much of anything along those lines. And it’s funny, at seven years old, I drew a picture for a class project for “What I want to be when I grew up.” The picture showed a guy in hiking boots, blue jeans, and an orange flannel shirt. He had an artist’s palette in one hand and an oil painter’s brush in the other hand. Up in the corner was a big yellow sun—with an odd turquoise outline. Why the green outline? Who knows!
I’ve always enjoyed the outdoors. Skiing, hiking, mountain climbing, and backpacking all started in my youth. I climbed Mount Rainier in my teens, started backpacking throughout Grand Canyon in my thirties, and rowed an 18-foot raft the length of the Grand Canyon in my fifties. Although I dreamed of being a fine art painter, photography has become the best medium to use my art school education and capture the beauty of the American Southwest and beyond.
What makes you unique as an artist?
Probably what makes me different than most landscape photographers is that I majored in art in college. After that, I continued with a two-and-a-half-year program of commercial art education (so I could find a job!) at a private art school in Seattle. Photography often filled my free time but strangely I never studied it formally other than a black and white class in high school.
A few years after graduation I bought an old 1950s Kodak stereo 3-D camera which I took to Europe. I brought a few cameras and shot lots of black and white film.
My first job after graduation was in Los Angeles where I hired several top photographers as an advertising art director. As I was art directing photographers creating print ads for the ABC television network I saw that I wanted to be doing what the photographers did and not just be the art director telling people what to do. After ten years in LA, I moved on. Eventually, I settled in a small town in Northern Arizona—called Sedona. And Sedona made me into a landscape photographer. It’s been an amazing journey.
Did you choose photography and writing as the ways to express yourself, or did they choose you? Why?
Writing became an integral part of my backcountry adventures because a photo simply couldn’t tell the whole story. I wanted to capture the sounds of rushing rapids, the scent of the desert after a rain, and the sense of wonder in finding a hidden ancient dwelling.
I discovered how much I enjoyed writing after taking a workshop based on the book, The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron.
The writing assignments in that workshop led to me keeping a field journal to record my hiking experiences. The Artist’s Way workshop guided me into validating my creative dreams and setting a goal for myself as an outdoor photographer. My goal was to get a book published with my photography.
From the workshop’s process of creating small steps leading toward an accomplishment, my goal became a reality when I presented my book proposal to Arizona Highways. I was thrilled when they published my first book, Secret Sedona: Sacred Moments in the Landscape, which includes both my photography and adventure essays. Since then I’ve published five more books.
Can you tell me a bit about the process of creating an article or book that combines photography and writing? Does the photograph always inspire the writing?
The inspiration comes from experience first and foremost. The photography captures the key moments and inspiring locations, which of course helps me pay a lot more attention to my experience. The writing usually comes in the evening after dinner. It’s usually with a headlamp and often while in my sleeping bag before falling asleep.
In the case of a day hike, I may write as I go or capture the feeling as soon afterward as possible, preferably no later than the next morning. The process involves sinking into a meditative state of mind and letting the story tell itself. It’s like opening a valve and letting the words flow through me. It sounds strange but that’s the best that I can describe it.
Why is it important for you to take people on a journey through your photography and stories?
Since I was a kid I made scrapbooks of my vacation trips. I had collections of seashells and rocks and things. And I enjoyed creative writing classes. So, over the years I’ve always been drawn to gathering souvenirs and chronicling my experiences.
When I started doing backcountry explorations that I knew few people would ever have the chance to do themselves, I saw a chance to share my experiences and bring joy to other people. I knew on some level, too, that when I was older I would enjoy reading my own stories and reliving the adventures of my life.
When is your favorite time to shoot? When do you like to write?
The Magic Hour is my favorite time to shoot. Getting out before sunrise and capturing the beginning of the day is very special. But watching the light in the late afternoon crawl up the sandstone monuments as it gets more and more golden is my favorite time of the day.
Some of my best writing happens early in the morning just about the time I finish my second cup of coffee. My mind is open, and my thoughts are ready to follow an idea through the process of storytelling. It’s often a surprise where a story leads me and to what epiphany it reveals.
Do you have a favorite subject? Landscapes? Wildlife? People? Landmarks?
As I’ve gotten older my favorite subjects have changed through time. Early on I was fascinated with abandoned gas stations, weathered old vehicles, and small-town neon signs.
Next, I was drawn to the wide-open spaces of ranchland punctuated by a western windmill beneath an enormous and magnificent cloudscape.
When I landed in Sedona the classic landscape became my obsession. More recently I’ve focused extensively on subjects like the Grand Canyon, Route 66, Native American cultures, and National Parks of the Southwest.
Currently, I’ve become excited about photographing wild horses of the American West.
Was there ever a time when you were surprised & excited by how a photo or project turned out? Describe it.
My most interesting experiment with photography took place in Grand Canyon at ribbon falls. This location is halfway between the North Rim and the Colorado River and requires some effort to get there. On an earlier camping trip that year, I had been playing with my headlamp and my water bottle. Pointing my headlamp up through the bottom of my water bottle created a magical glow through the water. I instantly wondered what would happen if you shined light through a waterfall in a similar way. I had to find out!
So, on a rim-to-rim Grand Canyon backpacking trip we stayed the night at Cottonwood Campground which is near Ribbon Falls. A friend and I each carried a three-pound flashlight on the trip for one special night of photography. One flashlight had an LED blueish tint to the light. The other one had an incandescent bulb with a warm tone to its light.
Do you think about what you want people to feel when they experience your work?
After a while, as an artist, we begin to understand the impact of our art when we hear comments from others. Someone once told me that my photographs seemed like a visual meditation. I liked that, and it seemed to fit well for describing the experience that people might have while looking at one of my landscape photographs.
The overarching feeling I hope people get is a reinvigorated excitement for the wonder of life. The world is busy with problems and full of bad news. I believe engaging, beautiful photographs of our world can be good medicine in these trying times.
What’s next for you?
My travel plans were turned upside down and my group workshops were all canceled due to the pandemic. To stir my creativity, I took solo journeys into Colorado and Utah finding wild horses. I returned to Colorado at the peak of fall color which also help keep my creative juices alive.
Surprisingly, after having several slideshow presentations canceled this year, my world opened up with presentations using Zoom across our country and even across the ocean to Europe. Travel costs were zero and people got to see our beautiful Southwest, maybe for the first time. Life is full of surprises!
What advice would you give a photographer who is just starting out?
The best advice I can offer is to follow your passion for whatever subject you find you’re most attracted to. After that, pick a particular place, topic, or subject to build a personal project around. Define the story you’re trying to tell, decide what elements you need to tell that story, and saturate yourself with information through research that applies to your project.
With a focused body of work, you will not only find your weaknesses but develop your strengths. Work on improving the techniques required to eliminate your weaknesses. Push yourself to evolve to a higher level with your strengths.
Through following that process you may find you have gathered the material for a gallery show, magazine article, or a book if it’s a topic you’ve been photographing for several years. Approach a gallery with a concise body of work, no more than twenty images that all show technical quality and artistic consistency.
What are the characteristics of a quality photographic print?
The characteristics I look for are rich color, realistic saturation, and deep black tones. I want my print to have shadow details intact and the range of contrast to have the full spectrum of clean whites to rich, deep blacks.
What led you to Artisan HD?
I was referred to Artisan HD by painter Meg Harper. Her work includes vivid colors and she makes a lot of reproductions. I trusted her as a source for information on the best printers in the Phoenix Valley.
Why do you continue to work with Artisan HD?
Artisan takes the extra step to produce top-quality prints. They package their metal prints for delivery and shipping in solid materials, which gave me confidence that the print would arrive at my clients’ home in perfect condition.
Our first project included a 6-foot wide metal print. I was impressed at how carefully it was prepared for delivery. Quality from beginning through completion and that’s reassuring in any business relationship.
What advice would you give to other artists who want to create and sell quality prints?
Selling fine art photography first requires a perfect digital file for printing. Next, you must display your work on a website or in a gallery.
These days, selling from your website levels the playing field and the artist doesn’t need to split profits with a gallery. The advantage of working with a gallery is the exposure your work receives from collectors actually looking to buy art.
Selling from your website works best if you make the buying process simple and easy to follow. Create a relationship with your printer where you can order remotely and they can ship the finished pieces directly to your buyer.
There are several types of materials—canvas, metal, and acrylic—that are ready to hang when they are completed. All these materials look great, each having unique advantages. Oftentimes the subject will dictate which substrate will compliment your work best. Route 66 images look great on metal. Images with water and rich colors can look good on acrylic. Ancient dwellings of the Southwest seem best on canvas. The choice comes down to personal taste.
Expert Outdoor Photographer Print Partners
If you are a pro artist or someone who aims to create one-of-a-kind masterpieces, partner with a commercial printer that cares as much for your art as you. Discover how ArtisanHD helps delivers that WOW factor!
Want to join this elite club? Ambassadors get perks! Are you a professional outdoor photographer or artist and interested in joining? Then please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more about our incentives and partnership programs or call us at 1.877.948.0009
To see more of Larry Lindahl’s incredible artwork or purchase a book or landscape, visit his website.