Finding the Exotic at Home

grand tetons peaks clouds wyo

It’s hard to believe that this used to be my backyard—and yet, I still had a hard time knowing what to photograph most days.

Seriously. I lived in the valley behind the more spectacular view of the Teton mountain range seen here from the Jackson Hole, Wyoming side. I moved there for an art director position with two publishers there and it was a dream come true at that time in my life. But what happens when you’re in any 9 to 5 job behind a computer, your days become routine and your surroundings seem normal.

Coming from the flat landscapes of Florida, you would think scenes like the one below (my old view of the Grand Teton in Idaho) would never get old. I still craved for something different, though.

backside of grand tetons alta driggs

Even when you live in such a magical location, you’re going to get bored taking photos of the same thing every day. I’m sure there’s some photographers out there who are happy to try and take a landscape of the same mountains every day from different views and in different light and be totally happy, but that’s not for me.

I can’t blanket this whole article trying to say I didn’t find anything else to photograph out there because I did. I love wildlife photography and only living an hour and a half from Yellowstone National Park allowed me access I would never have before. But a lot of this was time restricted because snow covered roadways six to eight months of the year and the fact that I had two weeks off a year. Every weekend we could spare was spent in the parks and exploring.

But the slow times that come to mind were in the snow-covered months where six foot berms stood in front of our cabin and it was night at about five in the afternoon. This was half of the year. I spent my evenings looking at photos on Flickr wishing I was in one of these other exotic places taking photos of interesting people.

moose sitting in moose junction jackson wyoming

When my wife and I eventually moved back to Florida, it was like rediscovering something I had never seen before despite having lived there my entire life. I took my love for wildlife photography back and focused on birding, visiting every birding trail we could all over the state every weekend, and taking advantage of our twelve months of hospitable weather.

Before moving out West, I thought Florida was so boring and after returning, my eyes refreshed, I could see things I hadn’t growing up here. It’s so easy to look over all of the things that make where we live special.

buffalo landscape montana wyo ynp

It’s been six years since my last visit out there and I can’t hold back my excitement of re-exploring my old West. Like rereading a favorite old book, I’m bound to notice things that I never paid attention to before. Whether it’s a small bird that I looked over in lieu of spotting big game or even seeing how light shapes and colors some familiar areas that I would have never noticed before without some distance, this is a chance to rediscover my second home photographically.

The more you can see in the world, the more you’ll find what makes your own home special. Someone somewhere is envious of the place you live. I realize that looking through old photos of my time out there and pining for things I looked over every day.

yellowstone national park landscape vsco


  • Such a wonderful, inspiring and moving post! Your photography is simply breathtaking. I agree with you, sometimes we fail to see the beauty right in front of our eyes. They do say absence makes the heart grow fonder, and I happen to agree with that as well. I’m excited for your upcoming trip out West and looking forward to seeing some amazing photos. No pressure though! 🙂
    Cat L.

  • Great article! I grew up in the West (N. California), and having lived in New England now for 12 years I definitely have a new appreciation for the vastness of the Western skies and landscapes. We live in a beautiful country with so many regions that have their own unique beauty.

    LOVE your moose photo. I saw two while we were there recently. We have them here in N. England and I’ve passed probably a hundred “Moose Xing” road signs, but never actually saw one until I went to Wyoming!

  • Beautiful photos, but I get what you are saying. I live in a very flat and boring area. Dry with little color, but I do my best to figure out new ways to see it. Getting away from time to time has always helped, but I haven’t even been able to do that much this year. Non-the-less, I’ll be heading out looking for new ways, hopefully this weekend.

    It is nice to see what what Idaho looks like. My husband said it’s really beautiful. I’ve never been, but he used to have to drive through it when he would go to and from college. I’d love to visit one day and your photos entice me to even more!

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