Erik Stensland

Erik Stensland is a nature photographer and author based in Estes Park, Colorado at the edge of Rocky Mountain National Park. --- When I was five years old my dad told me that if I sprinkled salt on the tail of a bear that it would follow me home. As a result of his dubious advice, much of my early childhood was spent exploring the mountainous terrain around our Montana home with saltshaker in hand. During these years the wilderness found its way into some deep place within me and became a central part of my life. The solitude, the silence and the sense of connection with something much greater than myself has drawn me ever since. After college I spent about a decade living in Europe's Balkan Peninsula with my wife Joanna. Years of high stress during this period led to severe burnout. In pursuit of restoration I jumped at an opportunity to move to the mountains of Colorado at the edge of Rocky Mountain National Park. There, on quiet trails, surrounded by beauty and solitude, my soul began to recover. I decided to make a career of hiking and so became a professional nature photographer. As I hiked the many trails of the national park both day and night in pursuit of unique images, I came back to life and found myself overflowing with things I wanted to write about. This led me to become a writer and also a publisher. This time in the wild continues to impress on me that we all need more solitude, stillness, silence, and beauty in our lives.

February 2022 Newsletter

Here in Colorado the snow has been coming down, coloring the world a dozen shades of white. Many of the wild creatures have gone into hibernation or traveled south for the winter, while a few of the hardier animals can be seen making their way through the deep snow in search of nourishment. Though the weather is at times harsh, this is also a time of great beauty.

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2020 Autumn Newsletter

Golden aspen leaves, bugling elk and the first snowfalls are all part of autumn here in Colorado. It’s a busy season for landscape photographers in this part of the world. I recently visited a beautiful valley in southwestern Colorado and everywhere you looked there were photographers with their tripods. In so many of the conversations I had, Nature First was a topic of discussion. Photographers are paying more attention to reducing their impact.

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Irresponsible Behavior – What to do?

Soon after we launched the Nature First movement, we started hearing stories about the irresponsible behavior of some nature photographers. Of course, these stories and their impact were the genesis of Nature First and the 7 Principles. But then, members started asking, “What will the Nature First organization do when they learn about irresponsible behavior?”

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Nature First – An Introduction

This area six miles back from the trailhead had been trampled by far too many feet. But why had they been to this remote location? How did they even know about it? It then dawned on me, causing me to feel almost ill: I had published numerous photos of this area, shared the location online, and then told everyone who asked where this area could be found. The flowers were gone because of me. Unwittingly I had helped to destroy one of the most beautiful fields of flowers to be found in Rocky Mountain National Park.

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