Peter James's Photographic Style
A Whole New Approach to Nature Landscape Photography
Landscape photography is a time honored art form which has seen many great masters from Ansel Adams to Peter Lik. And like all great art forms, the basic assumptions must be challenged periodically to build on the past and move into the future.
Unique and Inspired Nature Photographs
The reason Peter James's photos take people's breath away, is because each one is inspired from his deep connection with nature. Peter doesn't just hop on a plane to go to photo hotspots and take the same trophy photos thousands of other photographer have taken. Instead, he spends all of his free time exploring, hiking, backpacking, and kayaking all throughout Washington State, searching for the most unique and moving landscapes and moments. When the subject, the weather, and the lighting all line up, then he lets his mind go and follows his creative inspiration and intuitive connection with nature, while relying on his 30 years of shooting experience to handle the technical aspects. Keeping his eyes open for unique opportunities means that half of the time the photo that ends up in his collection, is not the one he sets out to get.
Peter treasures nature's artistry, and chooses to exclude man made objects from his photographs. The intricacy and elegance of a single cloud can be something extraordinary, beyond what humans can create. His photos aim to showcase the brilliance and intelligence that nature is constantly expressing, and to inspire awe and reverence for this amazing earth we live on. He is happiest when surrounded by wilderness, but he also loves finding pockets of pure nature that exist in and around developed areas too. The exception to this rule is Peter's Nautical Collection which does include boats, however, by definition, the boats are all surround by nature, and all of these images celebrate the spirit of exploring and enjoying nature.
People often think of landscape photographers camping out in one place, waiting for just the right conditions to get their photo. Peter's just not that sedentary. Yes, he will scout out great locations on his hikes and come back to them when the conditions look best, but he has also learned from thousands of photo trips that the best nature photos happen spontaneously, and that waiting in one spot means missing dozens of others. One of the most amazing things about digital photography is that it frees the photographer up to experiment and explore. Peter shoots 10,000 to 20,000 photos a year, which means he can be incredibly selective when deciding what ends up in his limited edition collection. The photographs that are available on this site are all unique and exceptional, or they would not have made the cut.
After a fun day of wake boarding and tubing on a friends boat, a completely blue sky was overtaken from the east by a massive cloud front, just as the sun was setting. This is an example of why Peter keeps his camera bag with him at all times.
Ultra-Realistic Landscape Photography
Peter's goal when shooting and editing is always to create an image that accurately captures what it's like to be at these beautiful locations. He doesn't over-edit his images, creating unbelievable photos, but he also won't leave an image looking dull and flat. The way the human eye sees light is very different than the way a camera sees it. If you've ever taken a photo with a phone or digital camera you know that, while sometimes they look pretty good, they never look quite like what you saw when you were there. Highlights and shadows that your eyes can see become blown out or muddy. But Peter employs a variety of techniques for balancing brightness, contrast, and color to recreate what the eye sees, using graduated ND filters, his Canon DSLR and Adobe Lightroom. If he uses Photoshop, it's to remove distracting elements like a person in the background, and he never adds elements, changes skies, or does compositing. He also works hard to get the best image quality possible by using excellent lenses and the best shooting techniques, so that his photos can be enlarged to as much as 8 feet wide.
In a world that's filled with dark images and daily challenges, Peter James has made the conscious choice to take nature landscape pictures that are warm, colorful, and help make you feel happy. Living in Washington State in the Pacific Northwest, there are plenty of rainy grey days, but Peter chooses to wait until the sun bursts through, the wildflowers are blooming, or the mountains are aglow in the sunset or sunrise to practice his craft of sharing the inspiring beauty of the world we live in. If the life we all live is a reflection of what we focus on, why not surround yourself with sunshine, color, and happy little trees?
Across this vast alpine meadow at Mount Baker, these two trees choice to grow side by side exemplifies the sprit of companionship, while thousands of yellow glacier lilies surround them in the sprit of community.
Dozens of research studies are now proving to us the amazing physical and mental health benefits of exposure to nature. Doctors have begun prescribing nature therapy for children and for adults. There's even scientific evidence that looking at nature photographs can make you feel better about yourself. Most people can't spend enough time outside these days, but having Peter's life-like nature photography in your home or workspace can give you the same benefits when you enjoy it there, and it will inspire you to get out and enjoy it firsthand whenever you can.
Metal Wall Art
In his long career as a professional photographer, Peter has explored a huge variety of art print options, but once he discovered Metal Prints, he finally found the perfect medium for his fine art photographs. The traditional photo paper print that has to be matted and framed now seems outdated. The glass creates glare over the print which also has glare on its surface, reducing the color and contrast of the photo. Frames and mats also add a lot of cost, and take up wall space, which now means you can have larger Metal Print photographs instead.
Canvas photo prints have become a very popular form of wall art as well for these same reasons, but they have dull finishes and make a photo look more like a painting, which diminishes the realism and the sense of being there. Additionally canvas photo prints aren't waterproof so they are harder to keep clean and are more likely to be damaged over time. Because Metal Prints are waterproof, they don't need to be protected under glass, the colors shine right through the single print surface, and they can be easily cleaned with glass cleaner or a mix of vinegar and water. Most importantly to Peter's mission, they truly give you the feeling of being at, or looking right though a window at these incredible locations.
For more about the Metal Prints, click here.
Photography Locations Revealed
Sample Location Tag
Peter includes metal location tags with all of his landscape photography Metal Prints.
It seems that most professional landscape photographers these days don't like to reveal the exact locations of their photographs. This could be because they are territorial about the shot, or they just don't want you to know that it's the same place hundreds of other photographers go every year. Peter James chooses to share his locations, because ultimately his goal is to encourage others to get outside and go enjoy these spectacular places around Washington State themselves. He doesn't see these spots as his "territory", but rather a blessing that we all should have access to. Sharing nature's beauty is his primary goal, so he gives his photos names that tell you what and where they are. He even provides a wall tag whenever you buy a Metal Print, that tells the location, and shows where it was taken on a small map of Washington State.
Giving Back to Nature
Peter James also knows that in addition to being beautiful, nature holds the power to support all life. When we need to look for solutions to major problems that are facing humanity, nature has answers for us. The same answers it's had for eons. By supporting ecosystem restoration projects around the world, we support our own lives and life for generations to come. One way Peter James Photo Gallery contributes is by making a donation that plants 100 trees for every Metal Print sold on this website, or in the gallery. Peter is also the co-creator of HelpPlantTrees.org