I’m very pleased to have another opportunity with Our State Magazine this month, June 2016.  This is my third month in a row of working with the magazine and I couldn’t be more pleased with all of the stories and their collective geographic reach:  April a photograph of the southern Appalachian mountain range at large, May a photograph of the Bonner Bridge in the coastal region and this month (June) a photograph of Grays Lilies in the extreme mountain region.  From the furthest barrier island coastal areas of the state to some of the highest elevation, most unique and treasured mountain regions–it’s clear that I love this state and its many outdoor opportunities!

I was lucky enough to score an opportunity to place a photograph in the upfront photo essay, This is North Carolina, a three-image monthly rotation that represents each of the geographical provinces of the state:  mountain, piedmont and coastal.  My photograph of a cluster of rare and endangered Grays Lilies nestled in the equally rare highland grassy meadows of the Roan Highlands was utilized to represent the mountain region.  The photograph was used, I’m assuming, to compliment an interior feature story in the same issue by T. Edward Nickens titled, Blazing a New Trail on the Roan Balds.

This is a special image to me for a number of reasons.  For one, both my mother and father, as well as their German Shepherd, were sitting right behind me while I shot this.  After touting the beauty of this southern Appalachian landscape to them for years in both images and words, we’ve all taken to an annual pilgrimage to view the blooming Catawba Rhododendron each year around this same time.  Second, the rare and endangered Grays Lily was one of those elusive subjects that I caught early in my photographic journey and then failed to capture repeatedly for a number of years due to various factors.  Last year the bloom was quite good during my visit and it was a real treat to be able to spend days photographing these beauties as they popped up bright and red amongst fields of grass and morning dew.  Lastly, this was an experimental photograph that came after days of failed macro attempts.  I had just bought a new D810 Nikon camera and was somewhat unsure of my own abilities with the equipment due to simple inexperience.  Utilizing a wide angle lens and a very low tripod angle, I got as close as possible to allow a very impressive cluster of the flowers to be situated amongst their natural habitat, the highland grassy meadows of the Roan Highlands.  I was super excited about the result and its subsequent selection for this photo essay was validation in a sorts that trying different things behind the lens was in fact the best course of action for me as a photographer going forward.

I have to thank all of the good folks over at Our State Magazine again for this opportunity and all of the previous.  It is not only vital to my ongoing success as a full-time photographer to find homes for my photographs, but to pair them with stories and places that mean more than just “work” is very rewarding as well.  Thank you, guys!

I wrote a blog on Grays Lilies following my visit to this area last June.  If you’re interested, you can find the text and pics HERE.

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