Discovering Art: Nathan Wotkyns

An Interview With One of Greater Zion’s Many Unique Artists

Q) How did you get into landscape photography and what has kept you in it?

A) The outdoors has been my playground for as long as I can remember. Fishing was a huge part of that (Thanks to my Dad) when we moved here, my first thought was this is a desert where am I going to find any fishing?  Fortunately, there are many great still waters, creeks, and a few rivers to fish. I would always carry a camera with me first an old 35mm Minolta, there were so many places to explore sometimes the fishing was put on hold.  It gradually became another pursuit that I enjoy just as much, I guess because its a lot like it.

You’re not always going to come back with a great photo (I would equate it to the equivalent of getting skunked), but when you do, it makes your day. That probably is what has kept me in it, the enjoyment of finding new places and exploring, like fishing you never know what you will find around the next bend or canyon.

Q) How long have you lived in the St. George area and what brought you here?

A) I’ve lived in St. George for about 25 years, we moved here when I was 12 from Washington State. It was a big change in terms of scenery and weather!

My parents have always loved the outdoors, and wanted to raise me and my brother in a similar way to their upbringing. The weather and dynamic landscape were a perfect fit and reason when looking for a new home to explore, didn’t hurt that St. George was a great community as well!

Q) Where is your favorite place to go to take pictures?

A) That’s a tough one, I would have to say the places that are off the beaten path, we get so fixated on the major parks that we sometimes forget there are so many other smaller areas that have so much to offer. I feel that southern Utah has such a great diversity of deserts, and mountains that you could spend a lifetime and not see it all. There are some places that are 15 minutes away, and yet you feel like you’ve been transported to a different world.

Q) Is there any advice you would give to an aspiring landscape photographer?

A) The most important is to get out there, I think bad weather days tend to make the best for photography, we get terrific clouds certain times of the year and they add a another dimension to photographs. Another tool that is extremely helpful are graduated density filters, these allow you to get properly exposed images in situations such as slot canyons or high contrast scenes. There are some great local photography clubs, and there are so many wonderful websites and books to help you learn photography. I would have to say its just like fishing, its mainly time, patience, and a little luck!

Q) What’s your favorite image you’ve created and why?

A) They are all my favorites, but there are certain ones that have special memories of time spent with family and friends. A picture is worth a thousands words and that is no lie!  Me and my family were hiking up in Kolob to a place that I’ve hiked so many times in the past, I told them it looked like we were going to see a wonderful sunset, knowing full well the chances were 50-50, but as the sun began to set we were treated to one of the best sunsets I have ever seen, that made my year!

Q) How would you describe your style of photography?

A) I’ve always loved bold color and light, so timing is most important, the first and last hour of light are best! (again pretty much like fishing!). I like to capture compositions that create depth, I want you to feel as if you could step into the scene.

Q) Where do you draw inspiration from?

A) Simple, Southern Utah! How can you not, I’ve been all over the west, but I feel this tiny corner of the state is jam packed with all sorts of fantastic landscapes.  I’ve always had huge respect for the amazing artists that have captured the area. There are so many wonderful photographers and painters: Alain Briot, David Pettit, David J West, Dave Becker, Joseph Holmes, Michael Fatali, Royden Card, and Roland Lee just to name a few (that list is endless by the way!). Southern Utah is and will always be a special place to me!