The ideal to quit the "day job" is fast becoming a reality for local photographer Andy Cook.
Spending time in nature is Cook's biggest passion, and he says photography gives him the excuse to be where he loves to be. Working as a real estate agent, on the other hand, has given him the income and a fair amount of free time to develop his passion over the past 10 years.
"I thought it would be great if I could find a way to earn a living and enjoy the wilderness at the same time," explains the artist. "Eventually, the concept of achieving this through landscape photography evolved, and seems to be a perfect fit to satisfy this desire."
More than 25 photographs on permanent exhibition at Boulder Street Gallery display Cook's travels over the past nine years. The show is an array of eye-catching landscape scenes that would make any nature lover homesick.
The vivid colors and striking compositions of these wilderness photographs prove just how accomplished a photographer Cook has become. Mostly self-taught and still using a film camera, Cook credits a friend, an accomplished amateur photographer, for giving him "frequent, brutal" critiquing sessions for about a year.
Cook uses a computer only to match colors to the original photo when making prints. Otherwise, he uses filters, exposure time and composition to achieve his desired results.
"Mother Nature," he says, "does the 'artistic' work."
"Dallas Divide Fence" is a breathtaking snapshot of the San Juan Mountains near Ridgway. The photo portrays nature in all its fall glory, with the fiery reds, oranges and golds of the trees set against a dark contrast of pines, with the sun reflecting off the snow-capped mountains.
Taking a moment to stop and smell the roses, or photograph them, is something we could all take time to practice. Cook says that waiting sometimes for hours for the right light has taught him patience, and given him a deeper understanding and appreciation of nature.
While dedication to his art has given him the polish we see in his photographs, self-promotion has given him the means to make photography his new paying career. He has displayed his work at the Colorado Springs Airport, REI on Woodmen Road, and now the Boulder Street Gallery, but the artist says the best exposure has come from his own Web site.
Cook also lends his time to teach photography techniques to other nature lovers. His book, A Guide to Colorado's Best Photography Locations, details how to get to beautiful spots and provides tips on shooting the scenery into postcard-quality landscape photos.
Kerry A. Bennett
A permanent fine art exhibition of landscape photography by Andy Cook
Boulder Street Gallery,
725 N. Tejon St.
Selected works currently on display; artist's reception, Friday, May 11, 6-8:30 p.m.
Call 636-9358 for more.