Many moons ago, I grew up surrounded by beautiful landscapes in the Pocono Mountains. This is an area of peaks and valleys in Northeastern Pennsylvania of the United States. Each year, I was incredibly lucky to experience all four seasons; enjoying spring flowers, summer lakes swims, leaves ablaze in autumn, and quiet beauty of snow each winter. Those formative years cemented a love for Mother Nature and the variety she provides.
On a whole, a revolving door would be the best way to describe my photography journey. As a kid, I remember getting in trouble for stealing my mom’s camera and using up all the film. In high school, I joined yearbook strictly because I wanted to take photos and have an excuse to do so during school. In college, I majored in Photography, Graphic Design, Engineering. The story of how and why I chose that major is for a different time and different page.
Ultimately, I circled myself back to the arts and photography. During a college summer, I was accepted into a program called Semester At Sea (SAS). Essentially, it is a floating university campus on a ship that travels the world. During my semester as a student aboard the ship named the MV Explorer, once again I found my way back to photography through the yearbook team. For those few months aboard the ship, I followed the hired professional photographer and soaked up all the knowledge I could. Aaron, if you are out there, I’m sorry because I was probably really annoying. Traveling and seeing all the different parts of the world was exhilarating. I was enamored with new places, cultures, languages, and people. Those months abroad changed me as a person, changed my view of the world, and the trajectory of my life.
For a decade that followed, I worked as an engineer and analyst in the city. However, I had an amazing set of co-workers. I wasn’t someone who hated my job. Heck, I even obtained my master’s degree in Applied Economics thinking I would build a career in corporate America. A profession in travel and landscape photography didn’t seem feasible. Actually, it didn’t even cross my mind. Yet, when an opportunity presented itself to quit my job and move overseas, I jumped at the chance. With no friends or family near or even in the same time zone, I found myself with a lot of free time. Additionally, I had some of the world’s most prestigious mountain peaks at my doorstep to fill the void. It started as fun weekend hiking excursions with my husband and a camera until I was comfortable being solo in the mountains.
By some random chance, I found an advertisement for a photography workshop in English and immediately signed-up. Despite for being known for my planning and preparedness, this was a time when I jumped without looking at what was below. That workshop was an embarrassing but funny train wreck for me. Again, that’s a story to be told over dinner with a glass of something. Although, we grow from being uncomfortable. As a result, I grew a lot that weekend. My eyes opened to a whole new world of exploring and the genre of landscape photography.
Subsequently, this new hobby quickly spiraled into an intoxicating and blissful obsession. I traveled, read books, listened to podcasts, attended workshops, and met some of the most amazing photography friends. At this point, the cement hardened, and photography had become a permanent extension of my being. Initially, it took me a long time to feel like my images were good enough to say “I’m a photographer” out loud. Even though my photography will always be a continuous evolution, I can finally speak the words “I’m a travel, nature and landscape photographer” to others. And at some point along the way, my photography obsession turned into a profession. It is truly a passion to be in the field and capturing the world as I see it. It’s invigorating. Moreover, teaching others who share a passion for photography is energizing to me.
With a toddler in the mix these days, I certainly appreciate more local landscapes but savor the travel when it comes my way. My new mom tagline is chasing a toddler or chasing beautiful light while still enjoying every bit of grey and blue in-between. There’s a photo anywhere if you are willing to slow and find your connection to nature.
Safe travels, Happy Shooting, and Many Wishes for Colorful Skies!
Nature First Advocate
Chrissy Donadi is a proud member of Nature First pledging my commitment to care for our wild places by practicing the Nature First Principles. The 7 Principles for minimizing our photography impact on the world are as follows:
Prioritize the well-being of nature over photography.
Educate yourself about the places you photograph.
Reflect on the possible impact of your actions.
Use discretion if sharing locations.
Know and follow rules and regulations.
Always follow Leave No Trace principles and strive to leave places better than you found them.
Actively promote and educate others about these principles.
“When words become unclear, I shall focus with photographs. When images become inadequate, I shall be content with silence.”
“The camera is an excuse to be someplace you otherwise don’t belong. It gives me both a point of connection and a point of separation.”
“There is only you and your camera. The limitations in your photography are in yourself, for what we see is what we are.”
“Black and white are the colors of photography. They symbolize the alternatives of hope and despair to which mankind is subjected.”