Jonathan made the Pacific Northwest his home about a decade ago and has fallen in love with its geographical and geological diversity ever since. He predominantly uses a traditional large format view camera creating images that show nature for what it is, expressing himself while retaining the integrity and splendor of the wilderness. Jonathan joined Nature First in 2022 because his personal ethics fully aligned with those of the organization, and he is frustrated by the lack of stewardship and continued commodification of nature by photographers and the general public alike.
How old were you when you first discovered your love of nature? What prompted this?
I grew up in the rural Appalachian Mountains of Pennsylvania, always surrounded by dense forests and rolling mountains. I had a respect for nature but it was ubiquitous with my upbringing. When life moved me to the Pacific Northwest a little less than ten years ago, the geographic diversity reinvigorated my love of nature. How can one not be captivated by the rugged evergreen mountains bookended by dramatic active volcanoes and the inviting waters of Puget Sound?! It was love at first sight as the airplane landed in Seattle and I haven’t looked back since.
How long have you been a photographer? What got you interested in photography?
I’ve had a long-standing interest in having a camera in hand since I was very young, but the idea of photography being a passion began in 2013 while studying abroad in northern Sweden. The dark and cold winters opened up to awe-inspiring aurora borealis and from there I was on my photographic journey.chold
What led you to become active in Nature First?
I am a firm believer and follower of the Leave No Trace principles, and upon discovering Nature First I realized the guiding principles of the organization also aligned with my own convictions. When visiting natural areas, I become frustrated and distraught from the poor behavior exhibited by visitors and a lack of stewardship for and the continued commodification of these sacred natural spaces. Being an active participant in an organization larger than myself has given me a renewed sense of purpose and I believe it is possible to influence change for good to preserve the wilderness.
What kind of behavior distresses you the most? Do you have an example of this? How would you tie this into the Nature First principles?
I constantly see national park tourists feeding wildlife and unnecessarily going off trail in fragile ecosystems where there is simply no need to be off trail in the first place. However, an overarching issue I witness is the commodification of nature as a backdrop for social media, e.g. the “influencer” culture. Not only do some of these people have little care for nature and their subsequent impact on it, but as their self-appointed title suggests, they influence others to also behave poorly, thus the perpetual harm to our beloved wilderness and the treatment of it as a commodity.
If you had a magic wand that teleported you anywhere, where would you be taking pictures now? Why there?
I visited Utah for the first time in my life in October of 2021 and my soul was lit afire for the high desert and red rock. I made the two-week trip solo and have count down the days for when life will permit me to return, this time with my loving partner and fellow adventurer. I wish to return to Arches and Canyonlands National Parks, while also visiting locations in the southwest of Utah and northern Arizona.
If we were to have a bite to eat together, what would we be likely to talk about besides photography and Nature First?
Let’s see… it would be very likely that coffee would be brought up in conversation. I’m a self-proclaimed coffee snob. I’ve invested time and money sourcing the best Third Wave coffee I can from local and regional roasters. I emphasize focus on single origin, fair trade sourcing where region, terroir, farmer, and roaster all play integral roles in the final product. Every cup of coffee is an experience and I wish for everyone to have the opportunity to have their own enjoyment from a cup. I would recommend a natural processed Ethiopian variety.
A picture you would like to share with us that has a history related to our principles, with a short text describing it.