nature and wildlife photography by Joseph Classen
Joseph Classen, Wild Revelation Outdoors

Artist Statement

Look at That!

They say that every photographer should have an “artist statement.” That always sounded a little too fancy for me, but I would like to share some thoughts about my work, so here it goes…

My formal education is in the disciplines of philosophy and theology. Those fields of study, coupled with my lifelong obsession with the great outdoors, have devoutly instilled within me the belief that there is no greater art than that which is found in nature. Faith, scientific reason, and vast personal experience have all taught me that there is no greater artist than the Creator, God Almighty, from which all beauty, and the ability to appreciate it, comes forth. All of humanity, without exception, is hard-wired to recognize the captivating allure of creation and the beauty of the planet we live on. After all, it is home to us all.  

We all have a similar reaction when beholding something magnificently beautiful in the natural world: there is a sudden pause and an instant halting of our soul that commands us to treasure what is before us. Our jaw drops, our heart skips a beat, we quickly inhale a breath of fresh air, and our facial muscles relax. Upon witnessing the stunning sight of natural artistry, our pupils dilate in unbridled attraction as we proclaim, “Oh my God! Look at THAT!” It is interesting to note how we naturally speak the name of God at such times, and not in vain! Whether we admit it or not, whether it is conscious or unconscious, I believe that we instinctively know the source of such beauty. How we specifically define that source in such moments, matters not.

Artist Statement Guideline | Outdoors Fine Art Wildlife Photography

The Need for Nature

Spending time in nature does something very positive, constructive, and healing to us. It is a catalyst for peace and tranquility. As we sit in the predawn darkness and watch the sun come up and the world come alive, something in us comes alive. We experience the hope and glory of a new beginning. And, as the sun sets in the evening and lights the sky on fire, we can’t help but to feel the calming satisfaction of a restful end.

It’s in the wilderness that the lovely tune of songbirds evokes sweetness in our hearts, while an encounter with a dangerous beast or life threatening weather fills us with instant respect. The tenderness of a mother with her young reminds us of the universal power of love. The caressing sound of the ocean waves, the trickling of a mountain stream, and the hypnotic trance of the rain lapses our souls into a state of divine calm. Our troubles and fears are gently washed away and our hearts purified. The fascinating mystery of the stars and the antiquity of the moon summons forth an appreciation of the eternal. Admiring the seemingly simple lives of wildlife brings us comfort and escape, as we wish our hectic lives were only so peaceful.

When we consider the intricate beauty, the stunning engineering, and the mind-boggling complexity that is present in the natural world, it becomes undeniable, at least to me, that a Master Artist has been at work! We come to realize that it is simply impossible for everything to come from nothing. That everything, in all of its incredible glory, is the essence of God. Without a doubt, creation does indeed tell us something of the one who created it, no matter what processes have brought it about…as those too are part of the totality of creation. 

Indeed, we all have a need for nature. It fills a void within us. It teaches and reminds us of things we often forget or overlook. Nature can heal us and cure the chaos of our hyper-active lives. It’s in the raw manifestation of creation that we see the undeniable face of God. It’s in those fleeting moments of pure, wild serenity that we hear God’s voice loud and clear…that is…if we are listening! 

These are the experiences I strive to capture and express by means of my photography. My goal is to reflect the divine art that is all around us in the natural world, which many never have the privilege of witnessing. I hope to share with you a priceless moment in time, an experience that has only come around once, and can never be repeated exactly the same again. I willingly journey far-off the beaten path to achieve these goals. But, please keep in mind, doing so often comes with a steep price!

Joseph Classen on a photoshoot in the Alaskan arctic.
Me on a photography adventure far above the arctic circle.

The True Price of a Photograph

In the process of capturing many of my images, I have endured savage weather conditions, such as the subzero temperatures of the Alaskan Arctic. I regularly venture out to areas of extreme, remote wilderness that are only accessible by bush plane. I have been eaten alive by hordes of blood-thirsty bugs and crawled through areas loaded with horrific, thorny, rash inducing plants. I’ve fallen in turbulent rivers and freezing lakes, gotten stuck in muddy, waist deep swamps. I have been nearly swallowed up by hidden sinkholes, have lost hours of sleep in races against the rising sun, have exhausted myself beyond belief while hiking for miles upon miles in treacherous terrain. I have almost fallen to my death off the side of snow and ice covered mountains, been in extremely close proximity of very dangerous animals, and…well…you get the point! Please note, I’m certainly not complaining, I love it! I willingly put myself through all sorts of half-crazed rigors to capture the elusive art of the truly wild, natural world. My point is simply that art often comes with great sacrifice on the part of the artist…which many don’t realize or carefully consider as they look at the price tag or copyright laws. Every image I capture and create is an enormous investment of time, energy, and money.

Joseph Classen in the Alaskan wilderness.

Unique Places = Unique Art

My goal as a photographer/artist is ultimately to create the most original, highest quality images that I can…images that I have been so humbly blessed to behold and capture, but also images that I have worked very, very hard at producing. The majority of my photographs are captured in remote, genuinely unique places that very little of humanity will ever go to or see. My desire is for you to experience something incredibly wild and incredibly beautiful, to see though my eyes, to feel what I feel, and to proclaim with a spirit of heart-felt wonder, “Oh my God…look at THAT!”