- Issue: Winter 2013
The rain in Utah’s Canyonlands National Park fell with a resolute stubbornness for more than two days. Andy Austin, a self-taught photographer wrapping up his final semester at Montana State University, contemplated a break in the clouds at Green River Overlook, and then continued the drive back to his campsite.
But the panorama of the deep canyon and meandering river nagged at him until he turned the car around and cruised the hour back to the overlook. He set up his shot and waited. Within two hours the clouds scattered into vivid yellows, oranges and purples across a rain-kissed sky. Click.
“It spoke to me in that moment,” Austin says. “I really worked hard for it. I waited for it and ended up loving the image.”
For Austin, nature photography provides inspiration and deepens his appreciation of the planet and its species. It has also become his way of spreading a message to others about the value of nature.
Austin grew up in Montana, and his passion for the natural world is rooted in the Northern Great Plains—a vast stretch of land in the United States and Canada that WWF works to protect. He has also explored the world via his father’s travel company, and he first took up photography as a way to share with friends the natural beauty and wildlife he saw on these trips.
“I loved going to these places and I was always kind of bummed because I couldn’t relay the feeling of how awesome they were to my friends,” says Austin. “I think [sharing the pictures] encourages a lot of people to get out [into nature].”
Many of Austin’s photographs display the grace and brilliance of Montana landscapes and local species, such as golden eagles, bison, and black bears. But he’s also snapped shots of elephants in Namibia and starlight in Utah. He’s ready to head to Antarctica should the opportunity arise.
“It’s so calm and serene out in nature,” Austin says. “And you really can’t get that anywhere else. You have to get [outdoors] and explore to get that feeling … the peacefulness of being away.”