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Leeds, AL

Falls from Below

In the words of Mike Waller:
Light is the essence of photography.  Boring light often means boring photographs.  Beautiful or unique light can result in wonderful photographs.  So in that sense I am a seeker of light. Clouds, storms, fog, early morning and dusk are among my favorite times to find great light.

I started experimenting in photography at an early age with an old disk camera.  The negatives were quite small so the photo quality was iffy at best, but it was fun to experiment and shoot around the yard. And at 8 years old, I was more excited to see the fruits of my efforts than judge the print quality. Couple this with the high anticipation of the monthly arrival of National Geographic Magazine and the incredible photos, articles and exotic places that I poured over, and I figured out early my dream job.

My grandmother gave me my first 35mm, fully manual, camera in 1991.  I had no idea what I was doing, so needless to say my first roll, and many subsequent rolls, were awful.  Nothing in focus.  Nothing exposed correctly.  But I was hooked and learned all I could about how to use this camera

As a journalism major at Samford University in Birmingham, AL, I did my internship with a freelance writer.  He said, “You can sell articles without photos but you’ll sell more if you include photos with your article, which can easily double your money per article package.”  Not long after that conversation, I bought a new camera.  My photos improved, and I even managed to sell a few to some magazines. I was especially proud when a tiny regional travel magazine used one of my photos on the cover.

I learned photography the hard way, teaching myself through trial and error in the world of film.  Shooting several rolls, analyzing what worked and what didn’t and shooting again.

I shot portraits for a large portrait company for several years and learned about studio lighting, how to deal with people and sales. I left the studio world, grateful for the education, but breathing a sigh of relief to be able to get back to my first love – nature and landscapes.

Since what we see is reflected light, and we are aware of depth because of the play of light and shadows, I love to shoot high contrast photos.  I consider one of mentors, though I never met him personally, to be the late Galen Rowell.  I only met him through his books, which I’ve read and reread countless times through the years.  And like him, I try to find those high-contrast photo situations that sometimes work and sometimes don’t.

I find my inspiration in God’s creation.  He created such a varied, exciting and beautiful world that I’ve only to be out in His creation to be inspired.  And my goal, my passion, is to capture this beautiful place we call Earth for others to see and enjoy through my photography. And to that end, I love large prints to really show off what I’ve seen and where I’ve been.

Nowadays, if I am not travelling to photograph around the U.S., I am wandering around Alabama, where I reside, or other parts of the southeast. The South doesn’t have the huge panoramas that you can find out west, but it’s nevertheless a beautiful part of the country. And while photo ops aren’t as extravagant or large (some might say “as plentiful”), that’s the challenge – to photograph Alabama and the South in such a way as to show it’s beauty.  It’s uniqueness.  It’s character. But I’ll just as happily board a plane or plan a road trip to parts beyond the South to see what’s around the next bend or over the next hill.

It’s the thrill of seeing new places and capturing with my camera the unbelievable beauty that God created for us to enjoy that drives me and fills me with passion and joy. And I truly hope you see these when you view my photography.


Mike Waller

2023 Festival

For important festival information, as well as a complete list of festival artists and their locations, click the button below!

Moss Rock Festival

November 4-5, 2023