Landscapes of Michael Bollino


The world is deeply beautiful. It’s really as simple as that. For me, moving through nature is the most direct way to experience this profound beauty, as well as feel the full force of its transformative powers. Don’t get me wrong, I hold no bliss-filled illusions of nature, it can be a raw, nasty, unwelcoming beast.

Yet, the polar opposite is equally true. Those who frequently go into nature inevitably experience those flickering moments containing such soul-catching awe they render all previous hardships instantly forgotten. It’s the opportunity to capture these rare moments photographically which drives me forward, camera in hand. If I just stay humble, if I allow myself to remain open and receptive, then occasionally, very occasionally, I’ll capture something truly memorable. It’s rare. Failure is the norm. But when conditions, elements, and light coalesce with just the right chemistry, the scene unfolding in front of me holds enough power to sear itself forever in my memory and leave me feeling as though I know the universe just a little bit better. If I’m lucky, I return home with an image which approaches the moment. This is the chase, pure and simple.

As an outdoor photographer I feel I’m rather fortunate for two reasons. First, I live in the Pacific Northwest of the United States, one of North America’s photographic meccas. The Pacific Northwest houses an insanely diverse cross-section of geography and climates in a very compact area: volcanos, rainforests, glaciers, deserts, grasslands, rocky coasts, and all the transition zones in between. I am very fortunate to be able to hop in my car, drive two hours, and find myself in any one of these locations. The second reason I feel fortunate is, before plunging full-bore into photography, I spent a decade exploring backcountry wilderness areas and traveling the world. I believe these immersive experiences allowed a strong sense of personal aesthetics to develop, not just for the obvious epic sunrises, but for the more subtle ways beauty reveals itself. These subtle moments are what speak to me most and what I strive hard to capture. They are also the most difficult to capture. For me, the value in photographing nature is this interaction, the feeling of being alive and engaged in the natural world, not merely viewing it from behind a tripod. Many of my most memorable outings have yielded nothing photographically.

My work has been published in a variety of print and online magazines as well as other media types. These opportunities are very much appreciated and I’m grateful for the exposure they bring my work, but I don’t actively seek them out. I try hard to shield my work from the “watchful eyes of others”. I want to strictly shoot what excites me, not be swayed by or chase after what others may want to see. This same line of thinking holds true for contests. Very few contests are worth entering. My belief is contests are detrimental for any developing artist. The last thing I want to do is enter dozens of contests just to stick more feathers in my cap, pad my resume, or broadcast these accomplishments loudly to the world. I hold nothing against those who do, I just choose not to. What is valuable to me is the feedback of my peers, encouraging words or questions for advice from those I’ve never met, or whenever a stranger sees a blank spot on their wall and chooses to fill it with one of my images. [Official Website]

So what’s in store for the future? This summer will see me return to Glacier National Park for a third straight year. I’ll also finally be able to explore some of Colorado’s amazing high country, as well as spend a short stint in the Yellowstone/ Teton area. I have many pre-planned ideas and goals for all of these areas but I know from experience the most memorable images are the ones I could never have anticipated beforehand. Stay open, stay humble.

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