I've updated my list as of 9/5/2014 to include new ratings and photographers. Updated 1/16/16 to remove non-Colorado photographers - still need to add 5 more. Updated 9/20/17.
Colorado is an amazing place for photography.
The variety of scenes available to shoot are quite diverse and one could spend a lifetime shooting photos here and still not get a full collection of shots. The State has a huge variety of photographic subjects including color, culture, mountain vistas, desert scenery, forests, 14ers, lakes, cities and National Parks.
Last month, I set out to try to identify what I felt were the best 20 photographers from Colorado that also shoot photos of Colorado scenes. I posed the question on Google Plus and received quite a few responses. I went through all of the responses and narrowed down the options to the top 20 photographers and have listed them here in the order that I feel they belong.
I made my choices based on three sets of criteria:
- How likely would I be to purchase a print from this artist?
- Based on their featured photos, what is the subjective technical difficulty in obtaining those shots?
- How likely would I attempt to emulate the shots that they obtained?
Here are the photographers and links to their website, in order:
Vestal Peak Sunrise by Kane Englebert
Since 2008, when I began seriously taking photos while climbing Colorado's mountains, I envied and admired the work of Kane Englebert. His style, vision, and subject matter were all things I found quite incredible. Ever since, I have always strived to try to vision my own work after his, with little success. Kane sets the bar quite high for quality, realism, scenes, subjects and composition. He also happens to be a really friendly guy, willing to take time to give new photographers tips and compliments, as evidenced by his comments on a 14ers.com trip report of mine from last year. Kane is just an all-around great landscape photographer and thus earns the number 1 spot on my list of the top 20 landscape photographers of Colorado.
2. Jack Brauer
Wetterhorn Peak Wildflowers by Jack Brauer
Jack Brauer's photos embody my own personal style of photography, which is - get up early, find an awesome mountain, climb it, and let the magic happen. The quality of photos that Jack takes are quite difficult to match in terms of composition, light and difficulty in acheiving. For example, Jack has a photo on his site of Capitol Peak at sunrise. Just getting there by sunrise is a feat of its own. I think you'll agree that his photos are quite impressive. You can also check out Jack's blog, which is pretty incredible as well.
3. Nate Zeman
Glow - Chimney Rock by Nate Zeman
I had personally never heard of Nate Zeman before inquiring on Google Plus about Colorado Photographers. When he was recommended, I went to his site and was quite impressed by the high quality of photography that I found there. Nate's work reminds me a lot of Kane Englebert's and I was most intrigued by his fall photo collection. Nate's work is quite outstanding. The scenes he captures are from vantages that most people will never see, which is why I picked him for this list.
4. Sarah Marino
Wilson Peak - by Sarah Marino
Sarah Marino is a very impressive artist specializing in the Colorado West. Her work is quite astounding. It is clear through the expression of her work that she has a real connection to the natural world and has an immense amount of creative vision and talent. Indeed, her work is marvelous and I envy her ability to capture some of Colorado's more incredible areas. Especially impressive though, is Sarah's work in the desert of the West. Check out her site and be ready to stay awhile!
Wonders Of The Night by Mike Berenson
It is no secret that one of my obsessions is night photography - and there is no one better at Colorado night photography than Mike Berenson. I had the pleasure to meet Mike when both of us had work showing in the Denver Photo Art Gallery. Mike is not only a class act but also one of the most generous and forthcoming guys when it comes to photography knowledge. If you have the opportunity to take one of his night photography workshops, don't hestitate! His work and knowledge is nearly unparalleled. Mike's night photography shooting and post-processing techniques are constantly pushing the boundaries and the results are proof that he takes a great deal of pride in his work.
Milky Way over Pawnee Buttes - by Grant Collier
I am a huge fan of Grant's work, especially his night-time shots, including the above panoramic image of the Milky Way. Taking such photographs requires timely execution and a great deal of forethought to pull of the shot. Grant resides in Lakewood, Colorado and his work has been featured on CNN.com, NBC, CBS, WB2, UPN, The Special Reserve Collection, America's Scenic Drives, the Mammoth Book series, the Cube Book series, the Denver Post, and the cover of the Rocky Mountain News.
7. Stan Rose
Crystal Moods - by Stan Rose
Stan Rose is a very talented photographer and moderator at naturephotographers.net. His gallery is one of the most impressive ones I've seen on the web, with a broad array of subjects, locations and photography methods. There's not a bad shot on his website, and I would encourage you to go take a look at it.
8. Todd Caudle
Jagged Mountain Reflection - by Todd Caudle
Todd Caudle is best known for his work on the annual Colorado Mountain Club calendar. His work is quite excellent and worth checking out. He often takes very unique shots of Colorado's 14ers, and I greatly appreciate that. Getting to some of the spots he takes shots from requires quite a bit of effort, and the reward is obvious in his work.
9. Andy Cook
Great Sand Dunes - by Andy Cook
Andy Cook is a professional photographer based out of Colorado Springs, Colorado. His images are classic in nature and provide some very vibrant and astonishing views of some of Colorado's more amazing areas. He is well known for his poster that can be found at many tourist locations throughout Colorado.
10. Erik Stensland
Bear Finally - by Erik Stensland
Erik's gallery is focused on Rocky Mountain National Park, which I think is a superb idea. The park is full of amazing features and locations, so what a great place to get a full gallery of! Erik's shots should be greatly appreciated by photographers and collector's alike. The locations he is shooting from and the conditions he strives to photograph are rare in nature. Additionally, Erik blends the intelligent use of fancy equipment (filters) with the natural beauty of the Park, and that is a really refreshing thing to see.
11. Stephen Weaver
Gore Range Autumn - by Stephen Weaver
Stephen Weaver is an award-winning photographer and a geological scientist with an eye for difficult shots in difficult spots. He has won many awards for his work and it is well-deserved. His photograph of the Crestones is probably one of the most striking landscape images I've seen.
12. Rick Louie
Sunflower Sunset - by Rick Louie
I'd not heard of Rick Louie before inquiring on Google Plus about local photographers. I was immediately impressed upon visiting his website and viewing his amazing shots of Colorado. Rick is based out of Denver and has shown his work at several galleries and exhibits across the State of Colorado.
13. Glenn Randall
Sunrise from the Summit of Snowmass Mountain - by Glenn Randall
Glenn Randall is a well-known landscape photographer based out of Boulder, Colorado. The first time I checked out his work on his website, I knew I found a real gem of a site. Glenn's work reminds me a ton of of my own, with a whole section dedicated to getting photos from the top of 14ers at sunrise. This is one of my personal passions as well, and I know from personal experience that it is no small feat to execute these shots the way in which Glenn has. You should really check out his work, it is quite splendid indeed!
14. Brent Doerzman
Capitol Peak - by Brent Doerzman
I could not find much information on the web about Brend Doerzman; however, when it was recommended to me that I should check out his work, I was immediately impressed by the large collection of autumn photos taken from various locations across Colorado. Brent clearly has a gift for finding wonderfully scenic locations and capturing the best images possible from amazing viewpoints. Brent's website is laid out much like a collection of trips, and each trip I've gone to view seems like it has several great shots in it. Check out his work, you won't be disappointed.
15. Scott Bacon
Mount Sneffels Wilderness - by Scott Bacon
Scott Bacon is actually a full-time software engineer; however, his photographs of Colorado are quite stunning and worth checking out. Scott's techniques are very classic and his execution is nearly flawless. He visits and shoots locations that are vintage Colorado and is able to capture moments at those locations that are breathtaking. Take a look at his gallery and you will also be impressed by his work.
Honorable Mention: Matt Payne
Sunrise from the summit of 13,835 ft. Turret Peak - by Matt Payne
It may seem strange that I have chosen myself to be in the running on this list - indeed - when I first wrote the article several years ago I knew there was no way I was deserving of recognition; however, I feel my skills and landscape photography has improved significantly since then and I should be included on the list as an honorable mention. My photography usually involves arduous climbs up some of Colorado's most difficult mountains in the dark to capture amazing scenes that most people will never witness.
That concludes my personal listing of the best 20 landscape photographers of Colorado. I'd love to know your opinions on the matter and who you think should have made the cut. Please leave a comment below and share with your friends and networks!