Creativity is key when shooting photos outdoors.

It seems fitting that as a first post to the ACK blog I pose a question…which I’ll do in just a moment or two. My first intention is to introduce you to what we’ll chat about here and I do hope the word “chat” becomes operable as I’d like these posts to be exchanges in which both you the reader and I get to learn — the only way to do that is if you post replies to my ramblings.

So, given my diverse background which is reflected in my passions, I’ll touch on almost anything that comes to mind. You won’t find a post about cooking unless it happens to be that I’m cooking while camping. You won’t find a post about getting lost in the woods unless there’s a GPS/compass mentioned. You won’t find a post about aperture settings unless it relates to working with that spiffy new GoPro that you just…oh, who am I kidding? We’re going to get to talk about TONS of great stuff because our activities out there are directly supported by ACK’s retail operations.

Cool, eh?

So, let’s start with that question; what is it that inspires and motivates us to be outdoors? Or, perhaps more precisely related to this blog, what makes us pursue trying to capture those moments via photography or videography when outdoors?

I find as a professional photographer that I *need* motivation and inspiration to get out and shoot. Usually for me the motivation is easy — there are just so many incredibly worthy things to see in the world so sometimes it’s the inspiration that I really need. I seek inspiration by viewing the work of others. I try to see through their eyes and by doing so hope to gain a fresh perspective that I might apply when I look through the camera’s viewfinder.

To be clear, we’re not talking about copying here but rather looking at imagery in a way that makes us THINK when we’re composing an image because great imagery isn’t (usually) accidental — though I must say the squirrel photo bomb certainly was both great and accidental.

I think we could all gain a bit of inspiration by having a gander at this remarkable collection of images from this year’s Smithsonian Magazine’s Annual Photo contest.

By spending a little time reviewing these images, I bet the next time you’re out on that kayak in flooded cypress, cresting a hill on a mountain bike, or even hiking a quiet path you’ll find the inspiration and motivation to pull out that camera and try to capture a bit of the beauty of the world around us. I hope so anyway.

When viewing these, try to keep a few things in mind; what’s compelling about the composition? Why does it work or why doesn’t it work for you? Might you have composed the image differently and if so how and why?

Next up, we’ll chat about editing — gonna stick to photography for the first few posts here. We’ll start with what the digital era has forced upon us and how to avoid spending HOURS in front of a computer editing after shooting for days while out there.

Kendal Larson

About the author – Kendal is a Houston-based professional award winning photographer and ACK guest blogger. His parents were fairly certain when he was small that he was part fish because he loved so much his time in/on the water. That’s never changed and you’ll see the intimate connection he has with the outdoors in both his writing and his imagery. For more information or to view some of Kendal’s work visit