Category Archives: Travel Photography

Seek the Authentic – Be Authentic

Seek authenticity, marvel in its presence but resist the urge to simply imitate. What is truly authentic should only inspire you to find what is already authentic in you. Doing so has become increasingly challenging in the popular culture of today where the emphasis is on appearance and immediate visual stimulation. Popular culture devours the authentic with an insatiable appetite and then sits in the corner, sad and empty-hearted. Just look what has happened to the most well known art and music “festivals.” There’s the perfect example. Imitation is a disguise for those who can’t – or have failed to – locate their own voice and it doesn’t help that we have entire industries that cater to imitation. Inspiration is the far better journey. Defy popularism. Be true, be inspired and become a source of inspiration versus imitation. That’s where you will find the good and lasting stuff.

Sunset sky over Albuquerque New Mexico on August 7 2014 by Jim Crotty
Scenes, landscape and skyscape on the journey between Taos and Santa Fe New Mexico by Jim Crotty
Sunset sky near Los Alamos New Mexico on March 6 2012 by Jim Crotty
Scenes, landscape and skyscape on the journey between Taos and Santa Fe New Mexico by Jim Crotty
Weathered texture of abandoned homestead in the Cabezon Peak Wilderness Area of New Mexico by Jim Crotty
An August day out on the Diamond Tail Ranch near Albuquerque New Mexico with Roch Hart of New Mexico Jeep Tours

Photography Published in New Book

I am pleased and honored to have several of my nature and landscape images published in the new book release, “South: What it Means to be Here in Heart or in Spirit.” The photographs selected were those captured in South Carolina, North Carolina and Texas. “South” also includes the work of several other well known photographers and essays from some of the best known authors and essayists throughout the Southern United States including Pat Conroy.  “South” is published by Lydia Inglett Ltd. Publishing of Hilton Head Island, South Carolina.

Photo Oct 17, 12 00 43 PM






Weathered and Worn | The Essence Shines Through

It’s interesting how visual artists gravitate toward certain subjects and how that attraction and subject matter can change over the years. This is why original work is more than just pictures on a wall or a computer screen. Once you follow a photographer or painter for a while their works become more of a dynamic connection between artist, viewer and story. You begin to see much more than what meets the eye. That’s also why I’ve always thought it to be a bit off-putting to group all artists as unsocial introverts. Those who have an honest commitment to their work are actually quite the opposite. They’re constantly reaching out to connect.

Nature subjects and landscapes represent the foundation from which I’ve built my love of photography. I always return to that foundation even while pursuing other subjects such as commercial assignments, product, portraits, etc.

However, over the last three years or so there’s been a certain subject area that is more and more represented in my stock library of images –  man-made subjects found in rural locations that are weathered and worn, particularly abandoned homes, signs, cars and other items often overlooked as eye sores and “junk.” With each of these finds are multifaceted stories – stories of a life or a family; of personal history that seeps into the very ground the dramas played out upon. The echoes in shadows and dimming light at sunset that retain witness to the trials and tales of generations.

There’s a certain beauty to all that rust and peeling paint. Objects exposed to years and seasons, the elements revealing an aged “essence.” Character evident in the bare brokenness.

Recently I came upon a wealth of these subjects during a road trip from Dallas to the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge in Southwest Oklahoma, near Vernon, Texas and in Snyder, Oklahoma. I had traveled up that way to photograph wildlife and landscapes in the Refuge, which I was able to accomplish. However (as is often the case) it was what I didn’t have in mind that became the primary focus of my trip.

Mostly flat and rural, the landscape in that area is subject to dramatic shifts in the weather and almost constant wind. There’s a subtle feeling of being almost lost in time – of being left behind – to the old farms and homesteads, of people who stopped for a while and then passed on to other more populous places further west. It’s as if the 1930’s made an indelible impression up and down every rural route that crisscrosses this section of Oklahoma.

Old, weathered cars and buildings are often used as props and backdrops for outdoor portraits, especially high school seniors. It’s the contrast of youth with the aged objects that makes so many of these portraits work so well.

Why these subjects hold more appeal for me today than perhaps say 20 or even 10 years ago isn’t due so much to me feeling old. I like to think it has more to do with going through certain experiences in life, maybe being slightly broken and exposed to the elements. A peeling away to an essence, a truth that’s more lasting. Maybe not as fast and shiny but a wisdom of character that prevails.

It was just last night that I had a conversation with a good friend from high school. We talked about brokenness and the building of character and courage. It’s one of those universal laws that applies to nature, life and faith. He mentioned how it also applies to sports teams too, particularly how the big name college football teams that go undefeated for more than a season or two eventually are much more likely to fold and collapse once they face serious opposition. They go too long without being humbled.

You’ve got to put yourself out there to be broken, weathered and worn. Maybe to be initially pushed aside and overlooked. But with patience and hope something so much more begins to shine through. That’s what I look for. That’s what catches my eye.

EndoftheLinebyJimCrottyFW Holy City Chapel Wichita Mountains Oklahoma by Jim Crotty 2 OutWheretheHeartWandersbyJimCrottyFW WeatheredandAgedbyJimCrottyFW Left to Time | Altus Oklahoma by Jim Crotty Vintage rides at amusement park near Quartz Mountain Oklahoma by Jim Crotty Vintage rides at amusement park near Quartz Mountain Oklahoma by Jim Crotty

January Sunset and Moonrise | Hilton Head Island

Wolf Moon and Sunset | January 26 2013 by Jim Crotty 9Wolf Moon and Sunset | January 26 2013 by Jim Crotty 8Wolf Moon and Sunset | January 26 2013 by Jim Crotty 7Wolf Moon and Sunset | January 26 2013 by Jim Crotty 6Wolf Moon and Sunset | January 26 2013 by Jim Crotty 5Wolf Moon and Sunset | January 26 2013 by Jim Crotty 4
Wolf Moon and Sunset | January 26 2013 by Jim Crotty 3Wolf Moon and Sunset | January 26 2013 by Jim Crotty 2Wolf Moon and Sunset | January 26 2013 by Jim Crotty 1Wayfarer on a Wolf Moon | Photography by Jim CrottyPrayers | Be Not Afraid

Via Flickr:
The rising of the full ‘Wolf Moon” on the evening of January 26 2013 from Burke’s Beach Park on Hilton Head Island, South Carolina. This is my favorite public beach access on the Island. I shot a lot of family beach portraits during the summer tourist season at this location. It was fun going back this past Saturday night. Relatively warm out with beautiful sunset and moonrise.

The Art of Photography on Hilton Head Island | Being Persistent

UPDATE 12-24-13: Since writing this post I have returned to living and working near Dayton, Ohio. I now provide photography services, print sales and lessons/workshops from my farm home in Beavercreek Township, Ohio

Visitors to my studio on Hilton Head are always amazed to find out that the 30″x40″ canvas prints on the walls are indeed photographs. I think it’s because most people are not accustomed to seeing photographic prints with such detail in that size. When it comes to fine art nature photography for the discerning buyer of art, I honestly feel I have some of the best images of nature and landscape subjects captured in and around Hilton Head Island. I’m not being boastful. That’s not part of my personality. In fact those who are closest to me and know me the best are becoming more and more agitated that I’m not boastful enough when it comes to marketing and promoting my work.

Hilton Head Island is a tough market when trying to sell fine art photography. There’s a “closed loop” so to say that often has more to do with factors other than the quality and originality of the artwork. But I keep going at it, chipping away. I may be more on the quiet side when it comes to sales and marketing but I do have determination.

The following web galleries – links listed below – were recently updated with images captured as recently as last week. It’s one thing to view an impressive photograph on a computer screen. Were quality can be accurately measured as how well these images reproduce as large format prints. Anyone who has seen my prints will attest to the fact that my photography more than measures-up.

All of the images presented in the following online galleries are available as fine art prints crafted by a lab that caters to professional photographers. I’ve been working with this lab for over six years now, and their attention to detail is second to none, so much so that another more well-established professional photographer here on Hilton Head recently contacted me to find out the identity of that particular lab.

Gee, I wonder why ?

Hilton Head Digital Art Photography –

Hilton Head Fine Art Nature and Landscape Photography –

And not only impressive looking large format prints but stock licensing as well. My nature and landscape photography of Hilton Head Island and the surrounding area can serve as excellent additions to local business web sites, print advertisements, brochures and even billboards. The images on the web site, brochures and billboards for Hilton Head’s newest attraction – Zip Line Hilton Head at Broad Creek Marina – is almost entirely Photography by Jim Crotty, both stock and assignment.


Lost in the Shadows | Photography of Remnants Weathered and Worn

The abandoned homestead in the high desert of the Cabezon Peak Wilderness Area of New Mexico. The only sounds being the wind and the occasional Raven. Weathered and worn I love discovering and photographing the small details that when combined tell a much larger story – a story of an individual or family out on the edge of civilization. Perhaps more appropriately the details combine to form questions. Who lived here ? Why did they leave ? What happened ? Why did they choose to live so far out in the middle of nowhere ?

Sometimes the photographer, in capturing textures and compositions that catch his or her eye, inadvertently plays the role of detective and evidence gatherer. Scraps of clues left on the desert landscape. Maybe the real story is forever lost to the shadows and seasonal light that graces the scene of what remains, day after day. The slow working hands of time return to the ground and air the evidence of memory and a life lived.