Winchester Lookout

Winchester Lookout, Star Trails and the Aurora Borealis

Growing up in the north east I felt there was a subtle, nagging force pulling me westward. As a young teenager my friends always talked about heading to California, Colorado, Arizona, anywhere out west. To us it was the Promised Land. We just had this idea that things were better “out west”.

My first foray west of the Mississippi was to visit the Sawtooth Wilderness in Idaho for an Outward Bound program. I fell in love with the mountains and backpacking. I returned back east, but not for long! A few weeks later I left home for good and hitchhiked out west visiting friends in California. Things felt different! And I knew that my future was somewhere on the pacific coast. Exactly where, I didn’t know.

Returning back east again I remember seeing a NatGeo issue about the Pacific Crest Trail (I was in high school at the time), and that seemed like the dream of dreams. I showed the mag to some friends and recruited two to head out to Oregon to hike the PCT. We split up and hitchhiked out, meeting at a camp site just south of Cascade Locks. We backpacked most of Oregon on the trail and had a magnificent time.

Over the next few years I continued traveling, hitchhiking through just about every state and visiting 13 countries in Central and South America. Again I wound up back on the east coast. I started to get antsy in just a few weeks, saw myself getting back in to old ruts and patterns. I knew I had to head west! So when a friend said she was driving out to Arizona and California, and was looking for a companion I signed on.

Isolation Lake Panorama, Alpine Lakes Wilderness

Isolation Lake Panorama, Alpine Lakes Wilderness

Spider Meadows, Glacier Peak Wilderness

Spider Meadows, Glacier Peak Wilderness

That trip took us through many adventures and I wound up in Washington State for the first time. After backpacking trips in the North Cascades and the Olympics I was sure that the North West was home. But again I headed back east for family and work.

Colchuck Lake, Enchantments, Alpine Lakes Wilderness

Colchuck Lake, Enchantments, Alpine Lakes Wilderness

I had narrowed down my choices on where to live in the NW, and in 1980 finally decided to head back out west to settle down. My plan was to visit Washington for a few backpacking and climbing trips and then head south and settle near Eugene, Oregon. But after the mountain excursions I couldn’t leave Washington! I wound up staying in the Seattle area for 15 years.

Of course I made short trips all over the state but the one place that seemed to have a hold on me was Skagit County. Every time I drove north on I-5 and started down the hill into the valley I felt I was coming home. I just had a feeling that somehow I would wind up living there.

But work and adventure pulled me away again. I left the area in 1995, and for the next seven years lived in Russia, Kazakhstan, France and Denmark. After my overseas travel I landed in NYC and worked/suffered there for three years. Each year I would fly out to Washington for a trip in the summer, feeling exhilarated and enthusiastic on the trip out west and depressed and miserable on the trip back!

I’ve sort of felt like a compass that has been shaken around a lot. It takes sometime for the needle to settle down and point north. I visited 50 states, 5 continents, and more than 70 countries. It took nearly 50 years! But finally after all my travels I was able to come home.

So, for me the question, “What does Skagit Valley mean to you?” is a deep one. It’s my home. It’s where I feel at home. I recall a song that said that home is a frame of mind. And that’s true, at least for me. I have lived in many places where I was happy with life: work, relationships, love. But I was not satisfied with my environment. Living in the Skagit Valley I am close to the mountains, the water, the forest. Even if I cannot go there every day I am so close I can feel them. And that feeling makes me calm and contented. They are with in my reach.

Spider Meadows, Glacier Peak Wilderness

Spider Meadows, Glacier Peak Wilderness

Photography for me has always been bound with outdoor adventure. I never had an interest in taking pictures until I started to go backpacking. Then it seemed like a necessity, you know, the packing list was: backpack, tent, camera, sleeping bag, stove, food…it never occurred to me that you could go out on a trip with a way to capture the images. Of course taking pictures, good ones, is harder than it looks! But once you start to get the hang of it, what a joy!

I have heard more than once that “You take nice pictures, you must have a nice camera.” (This still makes me smile) But I have always felt that a great part of taking beautiful pictures is going to cool places! And of course that’s what makes it so much fun! The planning, the trip itself, being there, in the outdoors, that’s the best part. Being able to capture some part of the look and feel of the place is an extra bonus. It helps to keep the memory alive and makes it possible to communicate some small part of what it was like to others. That’s what photography means to me!

Now that I am living in Skagit Valley everyday is like a trip or excursion! There is always something beautiful to see.

Lake Ann from the Maple Pass Trail

Lake Ann from the Maple Pass Trail

So taking awesome photos is as simple as remembering to take the camera with me when I leave the house everyday! Just knowing that possibility exists makes me smile!

Red Tulips in Skagit Valley

Red Tulips in Skagit Valley


96 thoughts on “About

  1. Ciao, l use to have the wanderlust too and hitched all over europe a few times, friends would say l had ‘itchy’ feet, meaning you can’t stay in one place for long the images and good times are still etched in my memory.

  2. these are beautiful!

    maybe i’m an idiot, but i can’t find a link to a photo store… do you sell prints of your work?

  3. Your work is inspiring! Thank you so much for following my blog! That means a lot to me. I’m definitely following your blog!

  4. You have some amazing photos here! I’ve truly enjoyed looking through them and will be back for more posts. Keep up the awesome work!

  5. Great photos. I lived in Glacier Park for a while. I love Vermont and being in Cape Cod, but I grew up in South Dakota and my heart aches for the west on occasion-I get it. Keep taking these beautiful pictures!

  6. Andy,
    I have been following you on Facebook for some time now and I love your images. They are home to me, as I grew up just south of Seattle and my husband grew up in Burlington. I am looking to improve my photography skills but unfortunately am not close enough to Sedro Woolley to take advantage of yours; also, I’m in a fairly rural area here so was wondering if you knew of any good online classes I could take? I seem to have the eye for photography but I need to understand the camera more. Do you have any suggestions? Thanks and I’m looking forward to seeing more of your work (those nighttime shots are awesome!!)

    • Lake Winnipesaukee! My favorite movie is “What About Bob”! I did not know that there really was such a place…New Hampshire looks awesome, its the only place besides Washington that I would consider living in. I love your images and (I am from NY) sometimes (not often!) I miss it there. Mostly I miss the old houses and fall.
      Anyway, about imaging…I did the NYIP Photography course, it cost me about 800$ (this was in 2002) and I got a lot out of it. I had taken a lot of pictures before, but never really understood aperture and shutter speed and all that until I took the class. My entire photographic world changed then, and my picture taking started to improve. I have learned a lot since, but that’s where it started with me: an understanding of aperture, shutter speed, and setting the exposure manually. I am a slow learner and its taken me an embarrassingly long time to get better. So, my advice would be to get some training in the basics, never use anything but the manual setting, take lots of pictures and use You Tube and the internet to look at tutorials. And the other thing I do is go to Barnes and Noble and get a stack of photo books and handbooks and look them over until I find one that fits me and then take it home and get to work. And if you dont have photoshop, beg or steal the latest version and get started. I am completely self taught on it, but the world begins there. You have got to learn how to use it to manipulate RAW images. And its not hard! Those are my advices! I hope to hear back from you and wish you well!

      • Yes, Lake Winnipesaukee is a real place. Unfortunately that movie was filmed in Virginia. Go figure. : )
        All of your advice is good. I do need to put my camera on manual (I tend to keep it on aperture priority) and I shot my first images in raw today. It’ll be interesting to experiment with it. I do have and know Photoshop, at least to some extent; what do you do for post-processing? Have you experimented with actions at all? How do you keep your images sharp? Is this the right place to be asking all these questions?? Thanks for your help! 🙂

      • I open the RAW file and use the auto option for the exposure, and maybe tweak that a little, then I fix the lens distortion, maybe tweak the individual colors a bit and then move onto the graduated filter. Once thats done I use the raw brush tool to brighten or darken specific areas I want to accentuate. Thats the basic flow…
        I cant believe it was filed in VA.!
        You can ask all the questions you like! I probably wont have many answers, though! I am sort in middle school with regards to the whole PS thing…

      • Yes. My wife Lindsay and I both teach here in the village. Four years and counting. We do travel home in the summer to Texas and California to see our families. I’m delighted you enjoy the blog, Andrew. It’s really intended as an open letter to my family, so they will know I haven’t been eaten by a bear or drowned in the river or frozen to death. 🙂 Never expected anybody else to find it interesting, but I’m very grateful for all of you who do and your comments -you are tonic to the lonelies. 🙂

  7. Interesting story and lovely photos – amazing and beautiful. Your story is interesting and you’ve had a wandering life, I understand. I don’t know how you have found my humble blog, but I’m grateful you did! Thank you for the follow. I will most certainly be back for more – beauty!

  8. Hello Andy! I’m french and it’s a little difficult for me to understand all your blog, but I can say that your photos are beautiful and I hope I could take the same pictures as you when I’ll be older. Indeed, I’m only 16 years old..!
    Where do you live? I think it could be interesting to talk if you want to. You could give me some advices… If you have the time of course.
    Thanks for reading me, I hope we could talk soon,

  9. I love your photographs. I share your passion for photographing landscapes and have an obsession with the night sky. I haven’t seen you post any photos of Alaska. I live in Anchorage and would love the opportunity to hike, camp, photograph and learn from you. If you should ever make it to Alaska, I’d be happy to be your host and tour guide.

    • Sweet! Let’s see, where can I get tickets to come? Thanks a million for the invite. I have visited Alaska many times, but never for backcountry travel or photography. I would love to make it up there! And what about you, do you ever make it down here to the Evergreen State? If you do, get in touch and I would love to have your company on a photo safari.

  10. Fine work from your explorations Andy! I’m also a transplant (from the congested NE). We cross paths with our cameras and published images, so I look forward to running into you in the field someday!

      • Hey Andrew, yes you definitely must, it really is spectacular!! Have a browse back through my blog and you’ll see that about a year ago my wife and I were in Port Douglas for a few days, whereby I went diving on the reef again, but this time with a camera in tow… Only a PS in this instance, but better than nothing – highly recommended!!

  11. Andy, your story is fascinating to read. I do believe there are places that are very spiritual in and of themselves, and that a place is a spiritual home for a person. How lucky that you finally found yours. The long search, however, is what makes you a richer person and artist. I’m so glad I discovered your beautiful blog.

  12. Pingback: Introductions: Andy Porter | Leanne Cole PHOTOGRAPHY

  13. Hello, I am over from Leanne Cole’s Introduction. What an incredible collection of images you have here. I grew up in the Seattle area and have always loved the Skagit Valley, it is so nostalgic for me to see many of your images. I left Seattle after college, moved to Alaska and then to Southern California (all for my husband’s work). We finally moved out of Southern California this past summer and now live in Humbolt County, which I am loving! I feel like you do, that every day is a new adventure here and I never forget my camera. I never thought I would get to live 10 min from the coast and 10 min in the other direction from Redwood groves. I am so happy!
    Really looking forward to following your work and enjoying the view through your lens.

    • Hey Carrie,
      Yes, Washington State has so much…mountains, ocean, rain forest, tulips! After all the travels I am happier with solitude and scenery. I have heard a lot about Humbolt Co and need to plan a visit sometime!

      • Oh yes! If you haven’t made it down here you should plane a visit. It is a stunning place. Let me know, I would be happy to share some beautiful spots with you!
        Oh and I miss the tulips, that color is incredible!

  14. Gotta say, this blog is definitely worth the follow – great job, loving all the beautiful photography and stories! 🙂
    Apart from my blog, I’ve got a project called Showzee (http://www.showzee.com) that might definitely interest you, take a look and if you fancy it, request an invite and I’ll fast track you!

  15. Andy, I just discovered your blog with delight. Thank you for sharing your outstanding pics, but also your vision of photography and your life experience!

    I would like to add something concerning your point on what makes a good photography. Good camera is important without a doubt; exotic places give you an extra choice on what you could shoot. But the ultimate condition is a depth. As in any other form of art: only describing has no value. When creating, you have to feel strong emotions, and know how to express and share it through your capture. What makes a difference between a “real”, powerful picture and a postcard.

    I really appreciate your work, it has lot of depth and carries a powerful beauty in it.

    Thank you for inspiration,

    • Thank you, Ekaterina. Yes, you are right. When I see a brilliant, colorful or interesting landscape, my emotions run high. When I try to photograph things like a house or a car, not so much!

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