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.