Ralph Nordstrom

The love of nature was burned into my soul at a very early age. I remember dad buying a secondhand canvas umbrella tent from a fellow on Flower Street. Musty smell, difficult to set up, source of countless wonderful memories. Mom and dad sleeping on World War II vintage army cots, me sleeping on the floor on an air mattress in a flimsy sleeping bag that didn’t keep the slightest bit of cold out.

Family picnics under live oak trees with a stream nearby.” Daddy can I go swimming in the stream?” “Sure son. Right after we eat mommy’s delicious lunch.” And church picnics too. An endless line of potluck goodies stretching from the salads, past the casseroles, all the way to the deserts under an enormous sycamore tree. “Daddy can we climb that mountain after lunch?” “Sure son, we'll do that.”

I grew up in an artistic family too. Dad ran a construction business but in his soul he was a painter. He gave me painting lessons in the kitchen. And what did we paint? Landscapes of course. Mom played the piano and so it was natural that I would also take up the piano. I love classical music and I ended up playing Bach, Chopin and others.

Backpacking too – Dollar Lake was the first, long treks in this Sierra Nevada came later. Big struggle in the beginning but not enough to keep me from coming back for more. When I was old enough I had a Pentax SLR hanging from a strap around my neck to capture those inspirational moments whenever I went into the wilderness.

Even our house today in the foothills of Southern California has a County Wilderness Park for a backyard. I never tire of the view out our back window with the light that is constantly changing during the day, with the weather and through the seasons.

Nature and art are what I grew up with and what I love.

My casual approach to photography became more focused when I took my first workshop in 2006. From that time on I have been on a journey - a journey of personal discovery. Because, as my photography evolves, as it improves, I learn more about myself. I’ve gained a lot of technical skills along the way, both in the field and in the darkroom (don’t worry, I shoot digital but I still call it the darkroom because it does the same thing and people don’t freak out like they sometimes do when I say "Photoshop").

But the technical skills are just a means to creative expression which is what I really focus on. They are what I call the Creative Vocabulary that allows me to communicate what it is I have to say about the world.

And discovering new things in the world, in nature, and expressing them through my photographs is where I am on my journey today. The journey will never end; the destination is not clear and changes as I change. But then, isn’t it the journey and not the destination that’s important?

I also think it’s important to share the things we learn along the way rather than letting them turn to dust with our bodies when we die. That’s why I write blog posts and lead photography workshops – to pass on to others the things I have learned so they can use them in their own work.

That pretty much sums it up.