Posts

Showing posts from 2016

The Year of Establishment

As we get ready to welcome the New Year we reflect on the year that was. For most of us it was 11 months of rebelling against a new year’s promise to ourselves. The good news is we have a new one teed up and this year it’s going to stick, right?

When we christened 2016 with a giant disco ball sliding down a pole and semi-forced PDA, my resolution list was blank. I was tired of telling myself I would develop a workout regimen or thinking I would have the will power to turn down every free sample of fudge. 2016 was going to be much bigger, it would be my year of establishment. 
January 1st I awoke with clarity and motivation, two traits that had been avoiding me since graduating college. The past two years were filled with doubt and a little voice constantly telling me to chase my dreams. Well that little voice wasn’t going anywhere, I was engaged to it, and in 2016 I married it. This would become the year I started telling people I was a photographer.
I didn’t set the bar very high for…

Oneonta Gorge

Image
Even as a kid I was a light traveler. I quickly realized a backpack full of activities was frivolous luggage. Air travel kept me fixated on the view from above, and I would get car sick if I concentrated on anything but the road. My luggage became reduced to a small pile of clothes and eventually a camera bag. So, when I threw in an extra days worth of clothes and second pair of shoes for Oregon, something was up.

On Friday morning, Sarah and I cruised through the Columbia River Gorge for the second time in two days. The sky is gloomy with clouds promising another day of slow rain. The sun has been up for a couple hours but hasn't made headway penetrating the sheet of gray above us: a typical dreary, brisk morning not uncommon to the spring weather we grew up with in Wisconsin. We can feel the moisture in the air as we saddle up for the hike. It has been a while since I've felt the cold stick of humidity. I close my eyes and picture a silent lake, stirred by the crash of a fir…

Multnomah Falls

Image
Every state has a famous tourist attraction, a one stop must see location. These places are usually overcrowded with tourists trying to check off the grandest sight in all the land. Most of these sites have adapted to the influx of visitors and as a result, have become commercialized. Like a mini version of Disney, they come complete with gift shops, snack shacks, and don't forget to buy your commemorative photo taken by the lady that looks clinically insane from forcing smiles all day. For Oregon, this is Multnomah Falls.

In Multnomah's defense you can literally hop, skip and jump from your car to the base. Driving down interstate 84 you can catch a glimpse as you bend around the overflow parking lot that divides the east and west lanes. Had Multnomah been buried three miles in a forest its natural allure might remain preserved. For a waterfall of this magnitude, either a road or a shuttle system would inevitably have been implemented to keep it accessible. Being so convenien…

Punchbowl Falls

Image
Sarah and I are still working out a system for traveling together. I have my photographic priorities, while she is used to more laid back vacations. For our trip to Oregon we tried to keep our days flexible to keep stress from accumulating if we miscalculated the duration of a hike, made a spontaneous stop along the way, or maybe the totally predictable spring weather decided to throw a tantrum. For our first day, we laid out three hikes we hoped to accomplish. Little did we know, the first hike would completely derail the entire trip.

Punchbowl Falls is one, of many, picturesque waterfalls in the Columbia River Gorge that cuts its way through northern Oregon. It serves as a popular swimming hole in the summer on top of its reputation as one of the most popular hikes in the state. We began our trek on a drizzly Thursday afternoon, hoping the combination of a weekday capped with gloomy weather would hinder the crowds. The camera can get frustrated having to work around oblivious pedest…

Weather or Not

Image
Growing up in Wisconsin I always thought the weather was bizarre, that was until I moved to Colorado. There isn't a thunderstorm in Wisconsin history that can compare to the average storm that blows through the foothills in the spring. In Wisconsin you can experience all four seasons in a week, Colorado you can do that in a day, especially in early spring, when the weather warms up enough to fool the flowers into blooming, before a foot of wet, mile high snow drops overnight.
Last year, the big storm came on Mother's Day. Tree branches closed road lanes and kept insurance lines busy from all the parked cars trapped under fallen limbs. Spring had arrived months ago and the new leaves had trapped more snow than could be supported. This year, the big storm hit a day before Sarah and I were scheduled to board a plane bound for southern California. All of Denver International Airport was shut down and the cancellations were abundant, including our flight. Luckily for …

A Kite, A Key & A Thunderstorm

Image
For those of you that have been keeping up with my posts, you may be wondering where the photography content is. I assure you it is coming. For right now, I am enjoying the satisfaction of having finally figured out what the hell I want to do with my life.

Based on the internet always reassuring me that, I'm only 25 and I'm too young to have my life figured out, I can assume there are many more people out there that were just like me. The ecstasy of graduating college was cut short when you realized you had no idea what you wanted to do. You finally had your fancy piece of paper covered in signatures and gold foil but that was only a ticket into a void of uncertainty.

It took me three long years and a lot of moving to finally figure out what I wanted to do with my life. Even when I forced myself to pursue my dream, it took a while for the excitement to sink in. As the details are starting to get figured out, things are getting organized, plans being made, I am feeling more and…

Chapter 1

Image
My name is Justin Key and I am a photographer.


That's really the whole story so far. I was never certain which way I wanted to go with my photography until now. So if you are reading this welcome to chapter two. Chapter one is usually filled with character introduction, so I can fill you in on the first 25 years of my life. After that though, the book is relatively blank.

I was born in Green Bay, Wisconsin and as far as I'm concerned, that will always be home. The world of photography started to appeal to me from a young age. When I wasn't outside playing, I was inside flipping through books and magazines looking at photographs. Eventually, taking pictures was all I wanted to do.

That brought me to Marquette, Michigan at the University of Northern Michigan where I got my degree in photography. The cold never bothered me. I spent a lot of time outside shooting in conditions I wasn't sure the camera was built to withstand. The stars and northern lights are beautiful ther…

Light in a Box

Image
I would like to say that, as a kid, there wasn't a condition that averted my attention from the text in a book to the pictures and since there was never a mandated trip to a professional I will continue to believe that. My parents would get me books and magazines and I would flip through them repeatedly just to look at the pictures.

Eventually, my obsession transitioned from the photos to the devices that created them. I wanted a camera of my own so I could figure out the magic inside. I saved up and made my first adult purchase on a cheap Fujifilm camera. All I remember about that camera was it shot film, the proofs were constant disappointments, but having it gave me an intense satisfaction as if I was holding all I could ever want.

The first picture I ever took came one winter morning in Seymour, Wisconsin. My sister was playing in a basketball tournament and across from the high school was a bright red barn. Cows were standing under the cloudless sky and the ground was cover…