Photographer Aaron Reed shares his love of nature through striking landscape images. A resident of the Pacific Northwest, he focuses much of his attention on the temperate terrain and captures scenes of babbling brooks, massive forests, and monumental mountainscapes. Each composition is a celebration of natural light and color; together, they offer endless inspiration and are the essence of why many people venture outdoors.
Reed views his work—as well as photography in general—as a special way to convey and present his experiences to others. “In my opinion, the gift of a captured, and subsequently shared, memory found in a photograph holds deep value and importance,” he tells My Modern Met, “allowing each of us to experience others’ joy, pain, and life experiences despite being great distances and even lifetimes apart.” Through his photographs, he hopes to show the viewer the natural world in new ways and evoke the same joy that he finds when using his camera.
Reed began his photography journey by teaching himself the essentials. Many years later, he has continued to improve on his techniques and expand his business by teaching workshops and selling his incredible images as limited-edition, high-quality prints to people around the world. We had the pleasure of speaking to Reed about his photography as well as how he’s grown in his creative career. Scroll down for our exclusive interview.
As someone who’s self-taught, what initially inspired you to learn photography?
I purchased my first camera as a tool, to photograph items I planned to sell online that I no longer needed. I brought the camera with me on a trip to the Oregon Coast in an effort to learn how it worked and from that very first day, I became obsessed with nature photography. Viewing the natural world through the lens of my camera offers me the opportunity to both see and to share visions of the world that some only dream of being able to witness.
What resources did you use to learn the essentials?
I have always been the type to hit the power button before ever reading the instructions and my experience with my camera has been no different. Everything I have learned has been strictly through trial and error.
What were your first photographs like?
The very first photographs I created were of the Oregon Coast and Columbia River Gorge, also located in the state of Oregon. In those early years, my ability to travel was very limited due to a lack of resources. As time progressed, I widened my never-ending search for inspiring locations to photograph.
How have you evolved over the years?
While my overall style and the quality of the work I produce has certainly evolved and been refined over the years, my love of our natural world has never faded. I still chase the same scenes today that captivated my interest in the beginning and the joy I find in doing so has remained constant as well.
Your work is vibrant and full of awe-inspiring nature—yet it has elements of abstraction, too. What inspired you to explore this style?
As far back as I can remember I have always been fascinated by the shapes, patterns, contrasts, and colors found in nature. As a child, I collected colored stones, minerals, and crystals, constantly amazed by the way they seemed so abstract while feeling purposeful and intentional at the same time. Grand dynamic landscapes are simply abstraction on a much greater scale. Seemingly random shapes, patterns, and textures come together, visually describing the idea that everything in this world is connected and yet individual and special in its own way. While the search for vast and monumental landscapes are a driving force for many nature photographers, I find it most challenging and rewarding when diluted down to its most simple forms. The ability to find a direction and purpose from the meaningless is what I enjoy most.
What kind of gear do you use?
My tools of the trade consist of a digital mirrorless SLR, a small collection of lenses, and a tripod.
What is your post-processing like on an image?
My post-processing begins by balancing the overall tones in an image, followed by enhancing contrast and color in a way that creates a visually appealing, yet a natural vision of what I captured with my camera. While I do not pass judgment on creative decisions made by fellow photographers when editing their work, I personally choose not to add elements to any scene that were not there in reality or to combine images from multiple locations or more than one moment in time.
From a business perspective, when did you start producing prints?
In early 2013, when I first learned I would soon become a father for the first time, in anticipation of a greatly reduced amount of free time in the years ahead, I poured all of my energy into transforming my photography education business towards the production of limited edition photographic art. I have always believed that a photograph has not reached its true potential until printed, as a physical photographic print reveals life and energy not noticeable when viewing the back of your camera or a computer screen.
How involved are you in the reproduction process?
Collectors of my work around the world have grown to expect the very best photographic prints available today and my goal as an artist is to deliver on this promise without exception. Unlike small prints you can hold in your hands, the work I produce transforms entire rooms using the striking combination of museum quality printing methods and meticulously created imagery. I am deeply involved in the entire process from the initial capture to the creation of the final work itself, partnering with the very best in the industry to deliver incredible limited-edition art worldwide.
What are some of the materials and processes you use to create high-quality prints?
The majority of my work is produced as acrylic face-mounted art. This process encases a fine art photographic print in the highest grade non-glare and scratch-resistant acrylic glass in the world, finished either as a contemporary frameless work of art or as an externally framed piece using the finest Italian hand-made molding available today.
How have limited-edition reproductions helped you to grow your business?
Due to an overwhelmingly positive response to my work, in the six years that have followed, I have produced and sold thousands of large format gallery-quality prints to collectors and appreciators of art around the world and have risen to the top of individual artists who sell their work directly online. Every print produced under my direction is part of a limited-edition collection, each with strict production limits of 50, 100, or 200 total pieces. I choose to produce my work this way to ensure that those who collect it receive real value and a truly special work of art only available to a select few. Once an image has sold, the entirety of the pieces in its respective collection is retired, never to be produced as a fine art print again. When an image reaches 75% sold, subsequent price increases are applied through the retirement of the image providing additional value to those who have procured early numbers from the collection. My business doubled each year between 2013 and 2016 and has continued to increase every year since allowing me to dedicate all of my time to my family and the growing success of my work and my brand. I continue to teach nature photography to fellow artists around the world through on-location workshops and I also teach the business of printing and fine art nature photography sales twice a year through exclusive presentations in Seattle, Washington.
What are you working on now? Anything exciting you can tell us about?
I am always working on at least three things in a continued effort to expand and scale my business in an effort to introduce my art to a greater number of people. For the past few years, I have been looking to open a number of galleries in the U.S. and currently partner with international art galleries who showcase and offer my work directly in markets outside North America. One thing is for sure… the best is yet to come.