Josh Meier Photography 2020 Calendar

2020 Josh Meier Photography Calendar

I have been passionate about both nature and photography ever since I was a young child exploring the pastures, creek bottom, and woodlands of my family’s Eastern Iowa farm. This love affair evolved through 4-H projects and family vacations continued with photographing independent travel into adulthood and eventually involved “taking the plunge” in starting my own business and selling my work at art shows and local farmers’ markets. I have been a semi-professional nature photographer for ten years now, and my passion for both the art form and the landscapes I am photographing only continues to grow.

Inspiration is the highest calling, my most important mission in sharing my photography with the world. I love to inspire people. I want to inspire everyone to get outside and take a look around. I want them to see that beauty can be found anywhere, from National Forests to State and local parks, and right in their own backyard. I want them to enjoy the myriad health benefits of time spent outdoors. And I want them to realize, both through my imagery and their own experiences, the importance of protecting our natural world, so future generations can see and enjoy the same.

As my business has grown and with it my following, I began receiving more and more requests to put out an annual calendar. I released the first edition in 2014, and every year doing so has proven a resounding success. I start fielding inquiries each summer as to when the calendars will be available, and by Christmas time they’re always sold out. I also release a series of blog and social media posts in early December sharing the stories behind each month’s photo, a custom eagerly anticipated and enjoyed by my clients and myself alike. And like previous editions, this year’s calendar definitely has stories to tell.

Some of these images are years in the making.  The March 2020 photo of Mono Lake is a great example. I’d long dreamt of visiting this geologic and photogenic wonder and finally got the opportunity to do so while attending a photography workshop in California’s Eastern Sierra Nevada Mountains. It took multiple attempts over the course of several days for the conditions (calm water and a colorful sunset) to come together just right and make this photo possible. Other times I quite literally tend to stumble into a scene.

Being “lost” is a relative term, probably proportionate to the accompanying level of anxiety you feel, or sense of urgency for getting to where you’re actually supposed to be. So as I drove one lazy autumn afternoon along the bumpy back roads of Northern Wisconsin’s Chequamegon National Forest, I couldn’t exactly call myself lost… I just wasn’t sure where I was. What I did know was I wanted to be taking pictures instead of driving around aimlessly. So when I noticed a small trailhead and path leading into the forest, I decided to stop and check it out.

For the next few hours, I explored to my heart’s delight. At one point the trail began to meander along a small stream and I shifted course to follow the water’s path. Venturing further and further, always wondering what was around the next bend, I admired sandy bluffs and the sights and sounds of the Great Northwoods. As the day grew long, however, it occurred to me that the trail I had come in on was now nowhere in sight. I followed the stream back to where I thought I’d seen it last, but to no avail. There was no pathway, just an unknown expanse of forest that would soon grow dark and cold.

Being “lost” is a relative term, definitely proportionate to the level of anxiety you feel, and the sense of urgency to find your way back to where you’re supposed to be. I searched the stream banks high and low, desperate for any landmarks I could recognize from the hike in. Maybe I’d already passed the trail juncture, maybe I had just a little further to go; there seemed confusingly few clues to be found. As the daylight waned my pace quickened, until suddenly a tree root jumped right up out of nowhere and grabbed me by the ankle. I stumbled, and with a splash found myself shin-deep in the cold flowing stream.

Turning into the current as I fought to regain my balance my eye caught glimpse of golden hour light painting the colorful forest in a warm glow. Even as my wet feet grew numb and the light reminded me that sunset was near, I stood right there in place, watching the beautiful scene unfold. Instinctively I raised my camera and started to shoot. It wasn’t the first time, nor will it be the last, that I took to the water (accidentally or by intent) to get a shot! This instance resulted in the October image gracing the pages of my 2020 Calendar. And a further blessing, that little stumble was just what I needed in that moment. Shooting photos is almost meditative to me. I have found few things in life that have such ability to put me in the moment, and just inspire presence and calm. With that sequence of shutter clicks, I immediately regained my composure and realized that I did, in fact, recognize this scene. I’d stood nearby and shot a few photos a couple of hours before. Scrolling back through my images I found a collection of digital breadcrumbs, leading from one captured stream bend to the next, eventually all the way to the trail and back to the car.

Be sure and give me a follow on your favorite social media platforms for more of the stories behind this year’s calendar scenes!

“So why calendars?’ you might wonder. In a time when it seems everything has gone digital, it feels very wholesome to hang a calendar on our wall. A place to handwrite important reminders, a means of counting down to school plays or holidays with our kids (not to mention an at a glance reminder of all those extracurricular activities that fill our busy lives!) And what cherished friend or family member wouldn’t take it to heart when during a visit they see that you’ve noted their birthday in the month ahead? Like, thank you cards and hardcover books, while modern technology offers substitutes, many of us still value these time-honored traditions.

And while it is true that you can purchase calendars from a mall kiosk or the big box stores for discount prices, sometimes even get them from the bank for free, please consider that the photographers contributing to these products often receive just fractions of a penny per copy, if any pay at all. Furthermore, mass-produced calendars are generally made in overseas print shops. You can be confident in your purchase of the 2020 Josh Meier Photography Calendar knowing that every image was passionately captured and is my own original work, I personally design the calendars, and have them printed right here in the USA. Your dollars are directly supporting the artist, and my ongoing mission to inspire appreciation and exploration of wild places, and of advocacy for our natural world.

–Josh

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Music To My Ear-Rings

Ear-Rings to My Ears

It all started on a bright and sunny California day when I had my bass guitar “set up” which means fixed as it wasn’t making a sound.  Funny how you can’t play the guitar without sound.

To fix it, the strings had to be replaced (which does not happen often on bass guitars) and I thought “these would make really cool bracelets” because they have played music and the musical vibrations are in the strings!  I was already making jewelry, funky earrings, necklaces, and rings made out of vintage buttons and LOVED the idea of using recycled guitar strings and bass guitar strings for jewelry.

The earrings I make out of guitar strings are called “Music to my Ear-Rings” and have the musical healing vibes from the key they play on guitar (E, A, D and G) as well as the healing reiki I use when making them.

I love jewelry, to be adorned in nice things that are affordable, make me feel good and really enjoy when others love my jewelry as well.  We throw away so much and if I can do what I can, by recycling what others throw away and turn it into something beautiful, maybe others would be inspired to as well.  This is why I also use vintage beads, pearls, buttons I get at estate sales when I design my earrings.  There is so much old costume jewelry no one wants anymore and the landfills don’t need it so I use it!

Of all the jewelry I’ve designed over the years the guitar string earrings are my favorite for many reasons.  First is because my Dad has played guitar (and bass guitar) since way before I was born so I’ve always been surrounded by music.  And from what I’ve learned about always being around music is that music heals the soul.  I’ve used my Dad’s old guitar strings for earrings for my Mom and all of my sisters so they will always have something that my Dad has played.  I have also made others who play guitar earrings for their loved ones or for themselves.

I love that the strings don’t want to be conformed into a circle but I do it anyway because a circle has many wonderful meanings such as the power of the female, infinity, being complete and being whole.  When I add semi-precious stones to the earrings it ads another level of healing depending on which semi-precious stone is used (which can be personalized as well.)  Lastly, each pair of earrings I make are unique because no two guitar strings are going to wrap the exact same way.  “One of a kind” is how I see myself and I love that my earrings are as well.

–Katie

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Wine Basket from Gep❤ Art

Rope Wine Basket

Jane from Gep❤ Art specializes in rope baskets and enjoys designing new baskets.  Her baskets feature natural cotton rope including natural white, dyed and fabric-covered rope. She had a special event coming up when she designed the wine basket.  Here is her story…

Time goes by so fast when we’re busy and we lose track of important people in our lives. We sometimes even fail to keep in touch with family . After many years of being apart, my cousins and I decided to have a special reunion in Door County Wisconsin.

A fifty-year-old picture of the five of us in white first Communion dresses had long ago faded and had been replaced with the image of strong women who had gone their separate ways.  Each of us had settled in a different part of the country. Sadly we barely knew each other as adults.

In anticipation of our visit, I wanted to take them a special gift that would get them acquainted with who I am today and showcase my interests. Since I started making rope baskets about a year-and-a-half ago, I thought a special basket would be the perfect gift. I could not only show them an example of the crafts that I make, but bring attention to the community that I’m from. I designed this basket to specifically carry one of our local bottles of wine.

I presented the filled basket to each of my cousins upon arrival.  Needless to say, after the wine started to flow, the memories returned, the reminiscing began,  and laughter and love filled the room.  We have now decided to make it an annual event.

–Jane

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Timber Coins

 The inspiration for Timber Coin Coasters comes from a legend that started along a winding gravel road fittingly named Hardscrabble. In 2018 our young family made a new friend with a farmer down the road from us on Hardscrabble. One short year later we lost our friend to cancer. The year of friendship on that rocky road is a story all on its own. I wrote the following creative short story for my boys; Blake and Hudson to serve as a fond memory of our dear friend and neighbor. I know they will always hold the friendship affectionately in their childhood memories.  – Andrea

“You boys keep looking around in that timber and maybe you’ll find the buried treasure.” Dave was so tall he had to lean down to talk Cint’s 5 and 7-year-old boys as they stepped out from the mule into the thick timbered area. Sticks leaves and plants covered the ground. “what treasure?” Blake the oldest boy asked Dave looking up with interest. 

Dave took a slow thoughtful breath as he glanced around the timber. He had been longing to visit this area of the timber for decades but there without a culvert and no time to mess around with building one while Dave was fighting prostate cancer and trying to keep his father’s farm running.

Clint had shown up in his life when he wasn’t expecting to make a new friend. Building the culvert to the other side of the timber with Clint had given him relief from his worries the energy and inspiration to get to the other side. Dave and Clint had spent several weeks moving rock, sand, and dirt to fill in the culvert to make a passable trail to the other side of the farm.

Blake was eagerly waiting to hear and impatiently asked again for his response to his question. “what treasure, Dave? 

Dave grinned remembering the story his Dad had told him when he was Blake’s age. He kept his voice soft as he whispered to the boys, in case there was anyone lurking in the woods.  The boys listened intently.

“Well, when I was a boy my dad always told me that there had been a train robbed nearby and the train robber ran into these woods and buried his gold that he stole from the train in these hills somewhere.”  

Blake and Hudson’s eyes went wide and they turned to look around in the thick timber woods at all the possible land that could be holding treasure.

“Did they get em?” 5-year-old Hudson asked; he was thinking more about the train robber than the buried treasure.  Dave’s grin was wide despite the weight loss and sunken face from the chemo. Dave knew that Hudson would be more adventurous in the timber if he was confident the “bad guy” had been caught. Even if the story was 2 or more centuries ago. “Oh yes, they locked him up good, but he never told anyone where he buried it. Maybe you boys will find it.”

Hudson picked up a tall smooth stick that had been drying on the ground for a long time, it was taller than him. He handed it to Dave. “here you go Dave; a walking stick!” The boys had been in the timber with Dave before. They knew he was sick from cancer and he moved a little slower through the woods when they were with Dave compared to when they were only with their dad. But they also knew that his weakness wouldn’t stop him from doing anything that he wanted to do. And being in this timber was something he had been wanting to do for a very long time.  “Thank you,” Dave said taking the stick from using it to take a few steps into the thick timber. The two brothers set off up the thickly overgrown hill navigating over fallen trees and around patches of thorny bushes. Clint and Dave watched them head off and could hear them talking with excitement about the possibility of finding buried treasure.

Clint watched Dave as he took in the sights, sounds, and smell. Without words spoken there was knowledge between the two of them that making it to this side of the farm was a gift.

The two adult men followed the two boys through the timber staying enough of a distance away to give the boys some adventure but still be able to see and hear them.  “They are pretty excited about that treasure,” Clint commented to Dave.

Dave nodded his head, “sure would be nice if they could find something.” They both smiled and laughed at the impractical idea.

Clint had an idea. He walked back to the mule and took out his chain saw he had to use to help move fallen trees out of the way to make the path into the timber. He walked over to a tree that had clearly been laying on the ground of the timber for years. With a strong pull, he started the chainsaw. The quite timber roared as he sawed a branch off of the fallen dried tree. With a few careful passes, he had cut 4 round pieces from the inner branch the size and thickness of a mason jar lid. 

“Coins!” Clint said as he picked up the flat round piece of dried red elm and handed them to Dave. “Yes, Timber Treasure,” Dave said with a big grin.

They are these timber coins that the boys found in Dave’s timber and share with you today.  They are taken back to Clint’s shop and finished with a clear coat to protect them for years of enjoyment.  Each Timber Coin is harvested from Dave’s timber from Red Elm that has fallen and died.  No live trees are ever used in the production of the Timber Coins. 

We hope you enjoy your timber coins as much as our boys enjoy scouring the timber for the real treasure.  When you hand your friend one of our Timber Coins, we hope you share the story of the train robbers who buried treasure in timber in Iowa and the two little boys who found Timber Coins in their friend Dave’s timber. 

We dedicate our Timber Coins to Dave (1960-2019) and his family farm, may he rest in peace.

–Clint, Blake and Hudson

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