Matt Nuñez Photography, LLC: Blog en-us (C) Matt Nuñez Photography, LLC [email protected] (Matt Nuñez Photography, LLC) Tue, 08 Feb 2022 18:27:00 GMT Tue, 08 Feb 2022 18:27:00 GMT Matt Nuñez Photography, LLC: Blog 78 120 Where I'm Shooting & an Ethic of Environmental Creation Since the beginning of the pandemic in 2020, overcrowding and environmental degradation have become growing concerns across Colorado and the greater Western US. While the turn towards outdoor recreation is welcome for those of us who work in the industry and hold a quasi-religious belief in the power of nature and time spent outside, it has also created a need to be conscious about how creators in the outdoors are broadcasting their work to their audiences. With that in mind, I wanted to offer this page as my own solution to protecting the places that I shoot while not gatekeeping them. You can find a running list of off-the-beaten path locations I've recently shared images from along with some commentary on accessing them (and my opinion on whether you should). I would also like to share some helpful links on this issue and how you can help preserve our beautiful landscapes long into the future. 

Telluride WildflowersTelluride WildflowersWildflowers in San Miguel Canyon near Telluride

Leave No Trace Principles

  1. Plan Ahead & Prepare
  2. Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces
  3. Dispose of Waster Properly
  4. Leave What You Find
  5. Minimize Campfire Impacts*
  6. Respect Wildlife
  7. Be Considerate of Other Visitors

*I'd like to add an extra plea to follow all local fire regulations and think critically about whether or not one is needed. I enjoy campfires as much as anybody else, but have grown extra cautious about the subject in light of Colorado's recent destructive fires. 


Helpful Links

An introduction to responsible geotagging:

A definition of gatekeeping:


Where I'm Shooting

Uncompahgre Wilderness, Lake City, CO

Taken during an ascent of Wetterhorn Peak in Southwest Colorado. This is a difficult hike which I did over multiple nights. The trailhead requires 4WD to access. Wetterhorn Peak is a Class III ascent, with exposure at the top. I completed this in a group with trained professionals and safety equipment (ropes, helmets). Do not attempt unless familiar with mountaineering safety.

Bear Lake, Mt. Harvard, Buena Vista, CO

Taken during an ascent of Mt. Harvard, near Buena Vista, CO, last summer. After a difficult six mile hike, we camped at Bear Lake and enjoyed the sunset. This is a difficult hike and extra care should be taken if staying overnight, as temperatures dropped into the low 30s. The summit is a Class II, with moderate exposure at the top. The road to the trailhead is difficult in low-clearance vehicles.

Maroon Bells, Aspen, CO

The Maroon Bells and this iconic view from Maroon Lake are easily accessible during summer months. In the winter however, access is limited to human-powered methods and private snowmobile tours. The road is 13 miles roundtrip and is difficult if hiking, snowshoeing, or XC skiing, because of the length. 

Mt. Rainier, WA

Mt. Rainier National Park is easily accessible with an entry fee. This photo was taken on an easy/moderate showshoe journey from Paradise Inn.

Norwood, CO

This sunset photo was taken roadside on San Miguel CR-44Z S. 

Lizard Head Range, Ophir, CO

This photo was taken roadside on CO-145 south of Telluride, near the top of Lizard Head Pass.

San Juan Mountains, Ophir, CO

This photo was taken roadside on CO-145 south of Telluride, near the top of Lizard Head Pass.

Mt. Harvard, Buena Vista, CO

This photo was taken from the summit of Mt. Harvard. This is a difficult hike and extra care should be taken if staying overnight, as temperatures dropped into the low 30s. The summit is a Class II, with moderate exposure at the top. The road to the trailhead is difficult in low-clearance vehicles.

Norwood Canyon, Norwood, CO

This photo was taken roadside on CO-145 east of Norwood, CO. Although this is a paved highway, the drop off is extreme and tight turns are necessary. It is not recommended to drive this road in winter conditions.

Snake River, Keystone, CO

This sunrise photo was taken roadside on Montezuma Rd. east of Keystone. 

[email protected] (Matt Nuñez Photography, LLC) Fri, 21 Jan 2022 20:29:30 GMT
Colorado announces new driver’s license designs Published by The Denver Post on March 1, 2021. The original article can be found here.

After more than 400 entries, a new Colorado driver’s license design was chosen Monday after more than 55,000 Coloradans placed their votes.

Glenwood Springs resident Matt Nunez’s design will be featured on the front of the license, while 19-year-old Wellington resident Gabriel Dupon’s will be displayed on the back.

“The more I learn of the stories of Coloradans across our state, I always feel the sense of pride they have in calling Colorado their home,” said Gov. Jared Polis. “This contest, these new driver’s licenses are an extension of that pride.”

Courtesy of Colorado Department of Revenue. Photo by Matt Nunez.

Nunez’s winning photo features Mount Sneffels, located west of Ouray and north of Telluride.

Nunez, 26, said that he is a part-time photographer, taking photos in his spare time, but the final product was a “labor of love,” as it took months to develop the photo.



“I am a proud Western Slope resident and although it’s not Hanging Lake, which is our local crown jewel, I’m glad that I was able to help make western Colorado represented on our driver’s license,” Nunez said.

Courtesy of Colorado Department of Revenue. Photo by Gabriel Dupon.

Dupon’s photo submission features Sprague Lake in the Rocky Mountain National Park. Dupon said that he wanted to capture the lake in a new way though showing people what they can’t see.

“This photo definitely displays iconic Colorado, but I would also say it conveys Colorado authentically.”

The contest saw a total of 280 front-side submissions and 127 back-side designs from 119 artists.

The new license is expected to release this fall.

“While this last year has been challenging for all of us … this contest has certainly been a bright spot for so many people,” Polis said.






[email protected] (Matt Nuñez Photography, LLC) Fri, 18 Jun 2021 18:12:33 GMT
Behind the Photo: Painted Wall Sunset Painted Wall SunsetPainted Wall SunsetSunset at Painted Wall in Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park

I am delighted to share that three of my photos were selected as finalists to be on Colorado drivers licenses beginning in Fall 2021. While the public decides on which photo they like the best, I thought it would be fun to share the story and personal meaning of each of the images. At the end of the day, I'm so proud to live in Colorado and hope that my photos bring a smile to face of anyone who may see them. To learn more about this contest and to vote on your favorite, please visit

On March 15, 2020, the world came to a standstill. I was on my way home from a ski trip, which would turn out to be the last of the season, as ski resorts were forced to halt operations in the wake of the rapidly spreading coronavirus pandemic. Anxious and confused about what lie ahead, I turned my car north from CO-50 towards the South Rim of the Black Canyon of the Gunnison. As I walked out towards Gunnison Point, behind the Visitors Center, a sense of calm washed over me as the immaculate depths of the the canyon unfolded before me. In the throes of human panic and illness, I was struck by the unchanging nature of the landscape before me. I remembered my first visit to the Canyon, a moment filled with wonder and joy. I thought of this photo, a memory of the freedom and adventure which would be uprooted for so many people throughout 2020. 

In August 2018, I spent a week camping around Colorado with a close friend. To this day, I look back fondly on the trip and the freedom I felt while visiting some of our state's most beautiful areas. One of our stops was Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, where I took this photo of the famous Painted Wall. Black Canyon is one of the least visited national parks in the West, but that is not for a lack of natural beauty. Located a short drive from Montrose, the canyon rim sits roughly 8,000 feet above sea level. The canyon itself is the deepest in Colorado, dropping some 2,250 feet to the Gunnison River, which runs West from the Continental Divide towards its confluence with the Colorado River. In the early 1900s, the Black Canyon was the site of a modern engineering marvel, when an irrigation tunnel was bored through the dense rock walls to the Uncompahgre Valley southwest of the Park. Marked by a Presidential visit to celebrate its opening, the Gunnison Tunnel allowed irrigation for many ranches between Ouray and Montrose. 

When I look back on my favorite photos, I am reminded instantly of the time and place they were taken. Although my memories at Black Canyon now bear a unique personal connection to the ongoing pandemic, I still remember the peace and happiness I felt while watching this sunset. I was with a great friend in a beautiful place and I there was nothing else I needed to worry about other than framing this shot just right, with the colorful array of bushes in front of a stunning sunset over Painted Wall. 

[email protected] (Matt Nuñez Photography, LLC) Black Canyon colorado landscape national park photography west Wed, 03 Feb 2021 15:19:25 GMT
Behind the Photo: Maroon Bells Winter Maroon Bells WinterMaroon Bells Winter

I am delighted to share that three of my photos were selected as finalists to be on Colorado drivers licenses beginning in Fall 2021. While the public decides on which photo they like the best, I thought it would be fun to share the story and personal meaning of each of the images. At the end of the day, I'm so proud to live in Colorado and hope that my photos bring a smile to face of anyone who may see them. To learn more about this contest and to vote on your favorite, please visit

In early February 2020, a massive snowstorm swept through Colorado, dumping multiple feet of powder across the high country and shutting down I-70 to tourists for the weekend. The weather was so severe that even the hardened residents of the Roaring Fork Valley enjoyed a snow day, as schools and offices shut down. After a full day of wipeouts on the ski slopes, I was particularly sore the next morning as I met a friend shortly outside of Aspen for our cross-country ski trip to the iconic Maroon Bells. I had never been on XC skis before and I was dreading the long day ahead of me. Despite the avalanche danger along Maroon Creek Road and the lack of wax on the bottom of my skis, the day was one I will never forget. 

The Maroon Bells are easily recognized as perhaps, the most iconic scene in Colorado. For years, the Bells have graced postcards and tourism ads, and have been host to millions of tourists from around the world. Over 300,000 of visitors come to view this spot each year, with the Fall as the most popular time of year. The twin peaks, North and South Maroon Peak, are among Colorado's "fourteeners" at elevations of 14,019' and 14,163', respectively. Known as the "Deadly Bells" in the mountaineering community, the ascent is particularly dangerous due to the fragile nature of the mudstone which gives the mountains their iconic maroon color during the summer. The peaks sit on the border of Gunnison and Pitkin Counties, in the heart of the Elk Mountain Range and the White River National Forest. Due to overcrowding during recent summer tourism seasons, the area has become an active case study in human environmental impact, and now requires a permit to visit with shuttles replacing passenger cars during peak times. 

Due to the heavy snow of the days prior, my XC ski trip was uninterrupted by the snowmobile tours which typically run up Maroon Creek Road during the winter. By the time we had reached Maroon Lake, some 6.5 miles later, we were the only two people in sight, a rare occurrence for such a popular destination. Following a brief lunch of some pre-packed sandwiches and fruit, I trudged through the snow to capture a photo of the snow blowing off of South Maroon Peak. My previous visits during the summer had yielded great pictures, but something about the solitude and harshness of winter lent a particular beauty to the image I ended up with. Despite the framing of the photo which suggests otherwise, the day was marked by a bluebird sky and very little wind - it was just hovering above the peaks when I needed it.

To this day, my photo of the Maroon Bells marks my last, great memory of life before the time of COVID-19. Nevertheless, I am fortunate to live just a short drive away from this national treasure, and I look forward to making another winter excursion up there soon!

[email protected] (Matt Nuñez Photography, LLC) aspen bells Colorado environment landscape maroon photography Tue, 02 Feb 2021 21:58:56 GMT
Behind the Photo: Mt. Sneffels Mt. Sneffels AutumnMt. Sneffels AutumnFall foliage in front of Mt. Sneffels I am delighted to share that three of my photos were selected as finalists to be on Colorado drivers licenses beginning in Fall 2021. While the public decides on which photo they like the best, I thought it would be fun to share the story and personal meaning of each of the images. At the end of the day, I'm so proud to live in Colorado and hope that my photos bring a smile to face of anyone who may see them. To learn more about this contest and to vote on your favorite, please visit

"Into the great wide open, under the skies of blue..." - Tom Petty

Following a long, yet exhilarating drive from Colorado Springs to Moab, UT, I lay in bed, slowly making my way through the hundreds of photos I took, from the moment I crossed Monarch Pass, until the sunset over Paradox, CO. A brilliant new world had opened up to me; one that I would find myself living in 14 months later. I had visited the San Juan Mountains twice before: on a family road trip during summer break of college, and a few weeks prior, when work brought me to the area. This time, however, I was passing through during the first weekend of October (the best time of year in Colorado) and the views took my breath away. 

The San Juans contain some of the wildest and most remote parts of Colorado, but are also chock-full of human history. The jagged peaks, Mt. Sneffels being the most pronounced, are breathtaking and reminiscent of the wild landscapes found in the Canadian Rockies. At one point, millions of years ago, this region sat at over 25,000 feet above sea level - a rounded dome, which eroded away over the millennia to reveal the landscape pictured here. While settlers were first attracted to the region, like so many other parts of Colorado, for the material wealth found inside the mountains, the San Juans now are a haven for recreation and unspoiled wilderness. 

Anybody who drives south on CO-550 immediately notices how Mt. Sneffels looms larger and larger over them on the approach to Ridgway. This day, as the stunning peak greeted me on my drive and the colors of fall foliage unfurled around me, I let my instincts take control. I turned onto a dirt road, and I just... wandered. For several hours, I turned onto various paths, easily oriented by the peaks to my south. Around each corner, I would stop, pull over, and grab my camera, which was now mounted on my fully-extended tripod across the backseat for ease of access. The moment was perfect, and I gave myself plenty of time to explore before continuing on my drive towards Utah. 

Hours later, while culling my collection of photos for editing, I was struck by this particular scene and the contrast of remarkable colors present in it. For months afterwards, I spent a couple hours per week correcting the colors to match what I had seen and felt in the moment. I delved into editing techniques I had not previously utilized, and in the dead of winter, I was finally ready to share this colorful moment of joy with my friends and family. 

It's been nearly three years since I finally said "it's ready." In that time, I moved to Western Colorado and even spent a year living in the San Juans. Mt. Sneffels has become a "welcome home" sign of sorts, as I am regularly greeted by it whenever I make my way into the region again. For me, this photo represents the first time I was truly welcomed into this incredible part of Colorado, and it reminds me of the very best that our state has to offer. If you're making your way into the mountains this Fall, just remember that early October is the best time to visit; this I have learned without fail. If you ever make your way to Ridgway, also be sure to give yourself plenty of time to explore!

Dallas DivideDallas DivideAnother image taken during my brief adventure around Ridgway. The peak to the right is also Mt. Sneffels, from a west-facing vantage point.

[email protected] (Matt Nuñez Photography, LLC) Colorado environment fourteener landscape photography recreation sneffels west Thu, 28 Jan 2021 23:35:50 GMT
Lessons from Rural Colorado La Sal Mountains viewed from Sawtooth RidgeThe West End contains some of the most rugged, and most unknown, country in Colorado.

A few months ago, I picked up a copy of the San Miguel Basin Forum, a bi-weekly periodical serving Colorado's West End, containing Nucla, Naturita, and Norwood. Each issue contains the current price of uranium on its front page - a nod to the mining history of this remote corner of the state. Just an inch below that, in this particular issue, the headline spotlighted two new recreational marijuana dispensaries opening in Naturita that week. The contrast could not have been more evident - two industries largely glorified as economic boons in their own respected times are here today - intersecting in ways that are largely invisible to the casual observer. 

This is the reality of life on Colorado's Western Slope. While mining is no longer the catalyst it once was for our state, it quite literally laid the foundation for the communities we love and inhabit today (the mining camp of Victor used actual gold to pave its streets at one point). Likewise, as we look towards the future of community building in our state, there has been no shortage to this point of creative ideas - such as leading the nationwide movement towards a cannabis-based economy - to address the state's future in an increasingly urbanized world. Throughout 2019, I have received a crash course in such lessons of economic development on Colorado's Western Slope, first as a Grant Coordinator for the West End Economic Development Corporation, and now in my new role as Economic Development Specialist for the City of Glenwood Springs. 

Hanging LakeThe trail to Hanging Lake is located outside of Glenwood Springs and has become one of the most popular trails in all of Colorado. That popularity has a cost, however, as limited parking and increased pollution on the trail have led to a new permitting system which restricts the number of visitors allowed to this scenic destination.
Like many who are native to the Front Range, I was relatively ignorant of life beyond the ski resorts often accessed by Colorado's large population centers. As I dove into the challenges faced by such rural areas, however, I realized that history is ever-present in the rearview mirror. In the West End, for example, the effects of another mining "bust" cycle (caused by the recent closure of a major power plant) have residents acting swiftly to bring new economic drivers to the region. The West End EDC has been at the forefront of this movement, having built a co-working space in Naturita while creating new jobs focused on outdoor recreation and value-added food production. The urgency for development is compounded by the area's past, which has seen towns die off quickly after the mining industry heads south. The ghost town of Uravan is a perfect example - located only 18 miles from Naturita, the town site was steadily grazed over the past thirty years. In the short time I lived in the West End, there were several instances of adults who grew up in Uravan returning to visit and finding nothing left other than the baseball field, which hosts a community picnic each summer in remembrance of the town that was.

When I came to the West End, I was intent on building roots in Telluride, the local ski resort, and I worked much of the time with the Telluride Foundation to that end. As I spent more time in Naturita, however, I came to appreciate the authenticity of a tight-knit community, along with the grit of every resident who calls this forgotten little town their home. The truth is, this is a type of rural Colorado that has become less and less common west of the I-25 corridor. For decades, small towns have (d)evolved into bedroom communities as second home-owners buy up more and more property within resort communities and push workforces outward. The resulting process is one of industrialization without urbanization, as wealth accumulates around ski resorts while growth is strictly limited by their local geography. Nevertheless, the populations inhabiting the high country of Colorado continue to grow, and they create links beyond town limits which connect every resident in each respective mountain valley. One need look no further than my new home, the Roaring Fork Valley, for an example, where public transportation between Aspen and Rifle (68 miles) runs around the clock and is the second most extensive in the state (behind Denver). 

Downtown TellurideAs tourism and second home-owners become the lifeblood of a community's tax base, an eventual crisis looms for resort communities as local workers are unable to afford to live in such areas.

It is often said that residents of the Western Slope have a toughness about them, but I've learned that this is less about the ability to endure a snowstorm than it is the resiliency displayed when a crisis hits. In Colorado's high country, there has been no shortage of challenges, and perhaps none greater than the continual fight to keep communities strong in the wake of modern industry, which demands movement inward and upward. The spirit which was brought by early pioneers to the region, however, is still alive and well in places like Naturita, where economic development is closely monitored by those who are wary of losing the aspects of community and culture which have defined them for generations.

As I look out my new office window in Glenwood Springs, I can see the color of the leaves changing on the cottonwood trees below Red Mountain in the background. Around the mountain to my right is the Meadows Shopping Center, a large development which brought several new box stores to the area and has provided many great products to the community that were not present before. Across the Colorado River from the shopping center, a mountainside below the Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park is currently being disputed by a mining company and the County, which has objected to their proposed development. This is the climate of economic growth in rural Colorado today - whether the newcomer is a retailer, like Target, or an entrepreneur looking for a foothold in new industry, there is always the question of what amount of development becomes too much for a community to accept. I am confident, though, that one way or another, these communities will still be around long after I'm gone. I just hope that I can help them along the way.


[email protected] (Matt Nuñez Photography, LLC) Thu, 10 Oct 2019 20:52:27 GMT
Growing with the Land  

San Juan MountainsSneffels Range viewed from Norwood, CO

A few months ago, I began traveling to Southwestern Colorado regularly to assist with the economic recovery of communities impacted by power plant and mine closures. Such a project is complex and daunting, but highly rewarding if successful. The challenges of working in rural communities, in some of the most isolated parts of the American West, no less, make this an adventure like no other.

Each morning, I wake in my cabin perched above the San Miguel River Canyon outside of Norwood, Colorado. Out my kitchen window, the sun rises over the western face of the San Juan Mountains, illuminating the Sneffels Range and Wilson Peak in light before reaching over and touching the lonely summit of Lone Cone, due south of my location. As I leave the driveway, I am greeted by the alpenglow of Utah's La Sal Mountains, the sentinels of the Canyonlands. On a clear day, my view east extends to the Uncompahgre Wilderness, home of a number of rugged and remote fourteeners. 

My daily work brings me to one of two extremes. Some days, I'm surrounded by the San Juans, working from the fairytale town of Telluride with dazzling peaks and incredible vistas right outside the window. Other days, I'm surrounded by the red rock canyons of the West End of Montrose County, working in the old, uranium-built community of Naturita. It's here in the West End that the community attempts to reconcile its mining-based past with the possibility of recreation as a future economic driver. Located a mere fifty miles in either direction from the outdoor recreation havens of Telluride and Moab, Naturita and its surrounding communities of Nucla, Norwood, Paradox, and Redvale are fighting for survival in one of the last unknown frontiers of the West.

It is here that outlaws of the old West would hide from authorities, and it is here the uranium used in the Manhattan Project led to the death of the town of Uravan. The canyon walls of this region hold tales even more unbelievable than the peaks of the San Juans, but the future of the community depends on a new interpretation of the land around us - one of reverence and harmony, not utilitarian, but an egalitarian view of the relation between man and nature. Jeep trails and fishing access may not rebuild a community alone, but the hope is that they can offer respite and wonder for the weary local or the adventurous traveler. 

The land surrounding the West End is remarkable. There is a new trail around every corner with a new story for each one. The wildlife is unlike anywhere else in Colorado - between bald eagles, elk, and bighorn sheep, there is no shortage of wonder. The admiration that we hold for the stunning mountain vistas nearby is not lost on the contrasting canyons of the West End, but the challenge is bringing it to the attention of those seeking it.

[email protected] (Matt Nuñez Photography, LLC) Colorado environment landscape recreation West Tue, 09 Apr 2019 19:47:23 GMT
Behind the Photo: Paint Mines at Night

The Paint Mines Interpretive Park in Calhan is one of my favorite spots in the Pikes Peak Region to photograph. The rock formations offer stunning color displays and the seclusion of the park on the Eastern Plains makes it an attractive destination to get away from the crowds. One night, my younger sister asked if we could go stargazing, and I took her out here and let her run around the rocks as long as she helped me capture a few photos. I love this image because the color of the rock pops against the radiant night sky. My sister held a light from a few feet outside the shot to illuminate the rock formation while I captured a long exposure shot of the stars. Astrophotography is a unique skill among photographers and it requires a good amount of patience and discipline to get it right. This isn’t may favorite nighttime shot I’ve ever taken, nor is it my best, but it is a memory of a fun night under the stars on the Eastern Plains.

[email protected] (Matt Nuñez Photography, LLC) Thu, 14 Jun 2018 20:56:15 GMT
Behind the Photo: Great Sand Dunes Great Sand Dunes SunsetGreat Sand Dunes SunsetSunset at Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve

One of my favorite things to do whenever I can find the time is take mini roadtrips around Colorado to explore areas I’ve never seen before. Even though this is the process through which I create some of my best artwork, it is a relatively new hobby for me. After graduating from college and finding a lot more free time on my hands, I started honing in on my craft of landscape photography more, and I learned to pay attention to external factors, such as weather, to create better results. This photo is the product of that dedication. Knowing that one of my upcoming days off would bring warm weather for early February, I began reading weather forecasts daily and deciding where I might find the best colors at sunset. As everyone knows, weather forecasting is not an exact science, but my gut told me that I would get good results at the Great Sand Dunes. I drove down in the afternoon and began hiking through the sand to the top of High Dune. The wind was vicious and my legs were hurting with every step through the sand. A kind stranger helped carry my gear for the final stretch of the hike, and I eventually made it to the top of High Dune as the sun was setting. After some time alone, I noticed that the parking lot I had started from was empty except for my car. Realizing that I was now virtually alone in the middle of a national park, I excitedly set up my gear to enjoy the sunset by myself. Unfortunately, it was rather uneventful and lacking color as the sun dipped behind clouds on the horizon. I was disappointed, but thankful for the experience as I began to pack up and head back to my car. As I was running down the dunes, however, the sand around me began to take on a vibrant purple hue and the Sangre de Cristo Mountains to my left blazed in amber light. I turned around and saw a burst of light filling the whole sky with bright orange and yellow, interspersed with the deep blue of twilight. I quickly pulled my gear out of my back and captured this photo. Editing it and seeing the final result was one of my greatest joys as a photographer, and I was thrilled to know that my studying and risk-taking had paid off for one of my favorite images.

[email protected] (Matt Nuñez Photography, LLC) Fri, 01 Jun 2018 20:15:08 GMT
Landscape Photography and Environmental Ethics "Wilderness. The word itself is music." - Edward Abbey


Aldo Leopold, the great American naturalist who wrote A Sand County Almanac, transcended American environmental thought when he considered a "land ethic" as a new approach to human relations with the natural world. As opposed to ethics that are rooted (ideally) in concern for our fellow Humans or (more realistically) in utilitarianism, a land ethic is one that incorporates the natural environment into the matters that we concern ourselves with daily.

Three years ago, during my senior year of college at St. Edward's University, I was burnt out from my coursework on the South Asian Political Economy and I was trying to identify areas of study for my Senior Thesis. After several discussions with one of my Geography professors (who also taught Environmental Studies courses), I considered how my passion for landscape photography might lend itself to creating greater environmental awareness. I stumbled through senior year attempting to clarify my thesis, and I eventually developed a photo project to highlight the aesthetic pleasure of the arts and their role in creating a greater appreciation for the outdoors. 

Two years later, I'm still swimming in the waters of this vast topic and I am enthusiastically using it to enhance my skills as a photographer. I never knew what it meant to appreciate the environment before I moved to Colorado, but now I find myself seeing the world around me in new ways. When I leave my home in the morning, I am greeted by the Pikes Peak massif; when I look out the window at work, I am frightened and amazed by the Horns of Cheyenne Mountain; when I am driving down Cheyenne Blvd. after work, I look in my rearview mirror, and cannot see any blue sky because of the mountains looming miles behind me. Over the past twelve months, I've had the pleasure of traveling throughout Colorado and Utah, spending time one-on-one with Mother Nature in all of her grandeur. My photography portfolio has greatly improved and I have found a passion for photography. 

Today, however, photography faces an uphill battle. As opposed to dance, theater, or painting, photography is now an everyday habit of nearly every American, rather than a true hobby. As it becomes harder to identify as a photographer, I find solace in the natural world around me that the hobby has introduced me to. Nevertheless, I seek always through my photos to give a glimpse of that same natural beauty to those who are kind enough to enjoy my work. Art, after all, is something that enhances and delights the senses of an audience, and I hope that my artwork does just that.

For someone who felt confused and lost during senior year of college, I am forever grateful that I stumbled upon this project, which I don't think will ever end. There is so much out there to see, and I am excited to enjoy it. I've developed my land ethic over the past few years, and I hope to see it grow even further in myself and in my audience. "Wilderness. The word itself is music," Edward Abbey once wrote. May my photos serve as the symphony...

[email protected] (Matt Nuñez Photography, LLC) aldo leopold environmentalism landscape photography Fri, 25 May 2018 16:40:47 GMT