Q&A With National Park Photographer Andy Porter

June 24, 2015NPF Blog

When you explore national parks, you get the opportunity to explore something about yourself. Photographer Andy Porter discovered his passion for photography when he started backpacking through national parks. Now, whenever he packs for a hike, he makes sure to bring his camera along so he can capture the highlights of his adventures. For Andy, photography means keeping a memory alive and being able to communicate the moment with others.

We asked Andy to talk about his passion for photography and national parks.

How long have you been a photographer?
I got started taking pictures back in 1976 when I hiked the Pacific Crest Trail through most of Oregon, from the Columbia River south, to Crater Lake National Park.

Photographer Andy Porter stands in front of Clear Lake

What inspires you about national parks?
All national parks are special places, full of wonder and adventure. Every time I visit a national park, I have a great time and leave exhilarated. For me, visiting national parks is the ultimate holiday!

Scenic sunset over the Copper Ridge Mountains

What does a park mean to you?
A national park means many things to me: first of all, I know it’s a place where I will have fun and where I will be in awe of nature. A park means that there will be cool things to do, places to go, and that it will be safe and well-kept. All national parks mean adventure and I know I will leave feeling fulfilled and looking forward to returning. 

Why is the Find Your Park movement important?
National parks are a fantastic resource for anyone here in the U.S. We sometimes forget to make time to experience the beauty in our own backyards. The Find Your Park movement helps people get connected to one of the best resources we have: national parks!

Photo of Orion over Zion National Park, taken by Andy Porter

How many parks have you visited in total?
So far, I have visited 12 national parks.

Favorite parks visited so far?
In Will Rogers fashion, I have to say that I never visited a national park that I didn't love! That's the cool thing about the National Park System in the U.S., all of the parks are spectacular.

Which national park are you most excited to visit in the future?
Grand Canyon National Park

Most difficult hike?
The most difficult hike I have ever embarked on in a national park was climbing Mount Rainier.

Mount Ranier beneath the Milky Way, photographed by Andy Porter

Most difficult photograph to take?
Capturing the range of light in a slot canyon was by far the most difficult challenge I have had so far in a national park.

Any tips for visiting national parks as a family?
Over the last two years, I have visited several national parks in Utah: Bryce Canyon, Zion, and Arches. My son is 8 years old and, along with my wife and a few friends, we spent a week in each park. We reserved campsites inside each park and spent a week doing day hikes. Before we traveled to each park we studied guide books, planned trips, made necessary reservations for hikes online and got ready. Each trip was perfect, the kids had a fantastic time, and we can't wait for next spring! 

Red Rock Fins at Arches National Park in front of a colorful sky

Andy Porter currently lives in Skagit Valley, Washington, close to North Cascades National Park. You can view many more of his images at andyporterimages.com.

Photo credits: Andy Porter 

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