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Photographer Spotlight: Rafael Reese

Rafael Reese

Rafael, you mentioned to me that you enjoy hiking. Did the love for hiking inspire you to become a photographer?

Most definitely! Before I bought a mirrorless camera I was always taking snapshots of my hikes on a GoPro. I wanted to showcase all the places I was going to my friends and family. It quickly evolved into me taking landscape photography more seriously so I decided to upgrade and pick up a serious camera setup.

What is one of your favorite places to hike and photograph? This can be two places or one place that really inspires you! 

This one is really tough to answer. Living in the Pacific Northwest has spoiled me as far as how close I am to both the ocean and mountains. One of my favorite places to go is the Oregon Coast. I love driving up, hitting all the beach hikes and viewpoints along the way. Cannon Beach, especially is a special place for me. My girlfriend and I make an annual trip there and it has become a little tradition of ours to get away and unplug for the weekend.

My other favorite location to spend time at is the Alpine Lakes Wilderness in the Central Cascades. What an amazing feeling to hike up a mountain and what awaits you is a beautiful blue lake tucked away deep in a forest of trees. These are by far my favorite places to visit when I have a free moment. Photography has changed the way I appreciate the outdoors. I spend more time taking in the scenery than I used to, even though I’m looking through a lens. I love that I can both share my work and the places I’ve been through photography.

Are there any places you have yet to discover or travel to that you can't wait to experience?

Everything I’ve done up until now has been based out of the Pacific Northwest. As I dip into my 30s, I’m realizing that I need to get out and travel. A couple of my travel destinations would be the Philippines, Japan, and Croatia. I’ve made a long list of places I want to go, so I’m hoping in the near future I can start making travel plans.

Do you have a favorite photograph that you are really proud of or a few if there are more than one?

I have two favorite photographs out of the thousands I’ve ever taken. For me, they are personal reminders to always strive to improve. I started taking photography seriously in May of 2018 and since then I’ve spent countless hours shooting, practicing, and learning everything I can. One of the things that I like to highlight is the amount of work I’ve put into photography. These photos for me, are a culmination of all those things.

What is the one thing that you learned that has helped your photography skills that you wish you knew sooner?

Socialize! By nature, I used to be a very reserved person. I kept to myself and oftentimes would hike and shoot alone. I wanted to improve my skills and break out of my shell so I began using Instagram as a platform to share my images and meet local photographers. By working with other people, I find you can learn a lot just by watching. I wouldn’t be where I am today had it not been for all the friends I’ve made in the photography community. I’m grateful for everyone who has shared their knowledge with me and allowed me to grow as a photographer.

Where do you want to see yourself in 10 years?

In the future, I’d like to be a full-time photographer. Besides landscape photography, I find my passion lies in portraits. I’ve recently been interested in doing adventure elopement photography since it mixes the two things I enjoy the most. I’ve done a couple of engagement sessions and had an absolute blast shooting them. There’s no greater feeling than capturing people in love through a photograph.

If you had to give one piece of advice to live by, what would it be?

To be yourself. It’s so easy to get caught up in the flow and hold back our true selves because we’re afraid of how we’ll be perceived by people. In the last year, it sunk in how incredibly short our lives are, why waste time not being myself? Enjoy the little moments now and you may realize later on that they were the most memorable ones.