Joshua Snow is a landscape photographer, originally from upstate New York but now based in Moab, Utah. Joshua has an amazing portfolio, and you’ll see several of his photos featured throughout this page. I recently had the opportunity to interview Joshua about himself and his work, and you can read his responses below.
Joshua should serve as really great motivation and inspiration. He got started with photography in 2012 and just recently left his full-time job to make photography his career. Now he’s leading photography workshops in many great location (see more about his workshops on his website). He’s a perfect example of what is possible. Enjoy the interview.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got started in photography.
It all started in 2012, I was tipping the scales at 400lbs, give or take a lb or two and diagnosed pre-diabetic. My girlfriend whom I am still with was taking a photography class as an elective in college, she’s a biologist and had an interest in macro photography. We had always had very different hobbies and interests and I thought if I got a camera too we could learn together. At the time my focus was fishing, and traveled for sponsors to tournaments around the country but was falling out of love with it. So the winter of 2012/2013 we spent a lot of time learning together, and photographing birds through a window at her house in Pennsylvania. I was living in upstate NY about 45 minutes away.
Then when spring came we began hiking, and had relocated an hour further north in NY to the finger lakes area where waterfalls are everywhere, so we began hiking as exercise. Soon I became obsessed with taking pictures of the waterfalls and experimenting with filters. As an engineer I have a somewhat technical mind and had lost my creativity in my teens when money and a job became more important than creating. I used to sketch, paint and sculpt. Fast forward a couple of years and a lot of learning, and self teaching I started taking photo specific trips and had completely given up fishing and lost 175 lbs. Fast forward a couple more years and we decided after a photo trip to Moab, to give up and risk everything to move here. We were fortunate to find jobs and a house, and I began conducting workshops a few months later once the application season opened for commercial permits in the National and state parks around Utah. I was finally able to quit my job this year and am leading workshops full time! I’ve also branched out to Colorado, Arizona, and California!
How would you describe your photographic style?
That’s an interesting answer. Once upon a time I was heavily influenced by other photographers, to the point of not even seeing my own vision, or attempting to create my own style which is always morphing and evolving. I had an aha moment one day last year and decided to leave a bunch of social media groups and unfollow a lot of pages and other photographers, not maliciously but as an experiment to see if I could really create compelling and impactful images without needing either consciously or subconsciously to see or draw inspiration from others work. That being said I do find myself drawn to very painterly styles and actual painters like Albert Beirdstadt who may be my biggest inspiration, with his very whimsical, dreamy paintings. So in short, I think I would say, painterly.
What draws you to landscapes and nature?
Well, I am not sure really. The beauty I suspect, but I can’t think of a straight answer. I just love being outside. The wind on my face, the sun on my back, just being out there makes me feel whole.
When you first started offering photography workshops, how did you market yourself to get clients?
Ha, oh man. If there was a classification for the world’s worst marketing person, I would be the poster child. Really social media was the key to the start of all of this, mainly Instagram. I had never even heard of search engine optimization until mid last year, ha! I was just focused on getting my work out there and began taking clients that wanted to learn how I did things and its led me to now be able to do this full time, and I still have no idea how to market!
What advice would you have for others in traditional jobs who want to pursue a career in photography?
This has come up a lot in conversations with clients, and students but honestly it’s like this, at least to me: There is always someone out there to buy what you’re selling, whether it’s art, or hot dogs. I have friends that are phenomenal photographers, that I aspire to be as creative and talented as that have no confidence in their craft and never pursue it. My philosophy is simple and it’s carried me through life with great successes and failures, but one constant has always been if I put my mind to it, I achieve it. My motto~ Do not be afraid to fail but hate failing so much that you do whatever you have to to succeed.
What is one important lesson that you have learned through your own photography?
Do not get caught up in the rat race that has become photography, do not get sucked into social media banter, and engage with internet bullies, internet warriors, and all around trolls, because sadly there is a lot of those out there. Arrogance and self entitlement run rapid in this industry and really if everyone realized that outside of the photography community we’re all nobodies, I think it would help a lot of people remain humble. After all this should be about art, and that alone.
What are the biggest challenges you face in your work as a landscape photographer?
Hmmm, probably being happy with my own work. I am constantly aiming to progress and improve (self judged) every single time I press the shutter or process an image. When I haven’t done that I feel like I have failed. So being able to self criticize, and self improve is challenging! That and creating unique, and compelling imagery while trying to preserve the wildness of certain locations.
What are some common mistakes that you see new photographers making?
I think everyone sort of begins the same way, going through the gear phase with little understanding of what makes a good photo, and over processing, which is a relative term because in my opinion, art is art and it can’t be good or bad. The single biggest mistake and I think it is almost unavoidable is becoming obsessed with a style, and doing anything to imitate and emulate it. Although this can have its positives I think if you stay obsessed to long that you’ll never find your true self. Personally I like rich, vivid color so some may consider my work overdone, but I am really working on refining my process.
What’s in your camera bag?
Nowadays I am carrying a Nikon D810, and D850, the 14-24, 24-70, and 70-300 ƒ/4.5-5.6 (it’s light and sharp, and way less expensive that the 70-200, and 300). I use Really right stuff tripods, bullheads and L-brackets, their craftsmanship and engineering are unmatched! Nisi filters, and F-stop bags! Cheap Amazon remotes, ha!
Aside from photography, what hobbies do you have, or what do you like to do for fun?
I really don’t have any others, between hiking with my lady and our dogs, building my portfolio and leading workshops I don’t get a lot of time for other things, that, and my mind really only has space for one serious thing at a time, which can sometimes be a hindrance.
Connect with Joshua
If you’d like to get in touch with Joshua, see more of his work, or learn more about his workshops, please use the links below.
All photos used in the post are © Joshua Snow, used with permission.