Dan Ballard travels 6-9 months out of the year to create some of the best travel images on earth. From Dan’s website: “Dan Ballard is an internationally known travel and landscape photographer from Colorado. His images take you on a visual journey to some of the world’s most beautiful and far-reaching corners. Dan has visited over 50 countries on five continents around the globe, and his work has attracted the attention and praise of some of the biggest names and companies in the photo industry.”
Editor’s Note: Dan Ballard hails from my own native state of Colorado. I first met him when he spoke at a Zenfolio seminar in Denver, where I realized that he was the photographer behind some wonderful landscape photos that I had seen and admired. I was excited to be able to contact him to request a story for this series. He kindly responded with this breathtaking image of wintertime in the Swiss Alps, and a story that demonstrates just how much effort it sometimes requires to produce great imagery.
The photo story from Dan Ballard:
I believe that creating a powerful image is as much about finding a location that moves you as anything else. A place that you have an emotional connection with will transfer to the viewer. The Swiss Alps represent that kind of place for me. I decided to go shoot them in winter hoping to find some interesting situations and light.
That meant packing a lot more gear than normal, doing a lot more planning and spending a lot more time freezing, but it all turned out to be worth it. I spent most of the trip above tree line camped on the snow. I would normally go up for three days at a time and then come down for food.
I captured this image on the third morning [of one of these forays] right at the end of my three-week trip. Everything just came together. The second I saw this composition through the viewfinder, I knew I found my shot for the trip. I was camped about 20ft from where this image was taken. It took me a solid day of hiking in the snow to reach the location, as all the gondolas and lifts where closed.
I was extremely lucky to find the water not frozen, as every other lake I passed on the way up was solid ice. Luckily there was a small stream running into this lake that kept the water moving. It was a major challenge getting the shot, but also an incredible experience and worth every step.
[Shooting in the Alps in winter] meant packing a lot more gear than normal, doing a lot more planning and spending a lot more time freezing, but it all turned out to be worth it.
For me, that is the joy of photography. It takes so much time and effort to capture a good image, and that challenge and time spent outdoors waiting for the perfect conditions really make it amazing.
Dan Ballard leads workshops throughout the year in spots ranging from Colorado to France to Patagonia.
Photo Stories is a series that provides a look at how our favorite images were made.