Colin Tyler Bogucki
Life is the only dream you can live...
Jamming out in Akaroa, New Zealand, February 2014. Photo by Joshua Dean West.
I have been exploring wild places and producing stock images for twenty years. Publications include the Associated Press, Alaska Magazine, United States Postal Service ("International Polar Year" commemorative stamp sheet), Anchorage Daily News, Minneapolis Star Tribune, Lake Country Journal Magazine, Alaska Dispatch News and Minnesota Conservation Volunteer Magazine. Currently, I reside at the Eagle River Nature Center in Chugach State Park, Alaska, and travel frequently. Recent ventures include Southeast Asia, India, New Zealand, and Australia. In addition to creating images, I am a published author. I also lead photography groups, teach classes, and enjoy public speaking and sharing my travel adventures through photographic presentations.
Growing up in the lakes area of northern Minnesota, I developed a connection with the natural world at a young age. The camera didn’t find me until my 25th year, however, after moving to Alaska to pursue what would be a short-lived career in human services upon earning a BA in psychology. I received a camera for Christmas that year; it was a gift that would ultimately change my life.
It didn’t take long to realize that the counseling field was not for me, and within a few years I resigned from my job to pursue a life with greater purpose. Concurrently, I declined an opportunity with the US Probation office in Anchorage, thus walking away from the financial security of a professional career. All I would have had to do was cut my hair, sell my soul and be miserable for the next few decades, but apparently the benefits were great. In retrospect, despite never owning a home or setting aside a substantial retirement fund, I never once regretted that decision and as a result, my life has been filled with a wealth of experience, adventure and subsequently, gratitude. As far as I am concerned, security is merely an illusion, nothing is guaranteed.
There are those of us who strive to earn a living doing what we love, because we dare to believe our work is worthy of supporting us financially. It’s a bold assumption, one that comes with a lot of uncertainty. Unforeseen circumstances and financial realities put a halt to many dreams and the truth is, most artists never find the success they so fervently worked for and believed in. The very definition of success is ambiguous at best in our society, usually implying wealth and fame. I’ve been at this for a number of years now. I’ve published numerous photographs, had magazine cover shots and a feature story written about me. My work is currently represented by two stock photo agencies and I even had an image make its way onto a US Postal Service commemorative stamp sheet. I haven’t gained riches but I have, without a doubt, found some measure of success. By most standards and for whatever it actually means, that makes me a professional photographer. Quite honestly though, I despise the label; it’s a meaningless term. I suppose it might suggest that one’s body of work is of higher quality or at the very least, generates income. In reality, however, commercial success as an artist does not require talent or innovation whatsoever.
With the advent of digital photography and continuing technological advances, obtaining quality images is now within the reach of many, a break from the days of shooting film. Suddenly everyone considers himself or herself a “professional photographer” and I get the impression that people are handing out business cards and offering portrait services before understanding the very concept of making an exposure. Not to sound crass, I once was a novice with nothing more than a new camera and a dream. There is a difference, consequently, between someone who simply assumes a title and those who create to satisfy a deeper yearning, something at the very core of our being. For me, photographing for the sake of artistic expression will always be first and foremost, it is what guides me and the rest will fall into place, as it should.
As a visual artist, nothing brings greater satisfaction than creating an image that successfully conveys the mood I experience during a moment of heightened awareness. It is the very reason I photograph, to fulfill this innate passion that drives me to push the limits of what I once believed was not possible. If the prospect of financial return were removed, I would still do what I do because, quite simply, it’s who I am. One way or another, I will always find the means to explore, create, and share the magic of the natural world. It is not only my dream; it is my purpose, and this I believe.
"Maybe someday I will seek a different path, but for now I have important work to do.”
(Colin Tyler Bogucki)
Making new friends in Aonang, Thailand, 2013