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Avocation

By Nicole Christensen Pettinger, Photography by Nicole Christensen Pettinger and Scotty Perkins

The sun ignites the morning sky in a cotton candy watercolor before it ever crests the budding foothills, and the crisp spring air infuses the lungs. We meet at the top of Table Rock, gather backpacks of gear, wander the dark earth to the ledge. Pebbles fall over the edge of the rust, green, grey boulder, and now the tripod is set. For photographers, the hero’s quest is to capture beauty as we witness it, and share its full essence to others.

Photography is a passion that drives the soul on the other end of the lens to places off the grid. Body contortions to get “that angle shot” are common, as is developing one’s “chasing of sunlight” skills. Scotty Perkins, Intensely intelligent and articulate, yet balanced with a refreshing quirkiness, is a photographer at heart.

Moving here in 2009 to be near family, Perkins found a safe haven in Eagle. His vocation (aka “day job”) with PayNearMe.com, a technology company based out of Sunnyvale, California, demands travel. “My primary job is putting food on the table, and this work allows me to do that,” Perkins explains.

A newlywed, his spirit beams speaking of his new wife Nicole and his children. Often in life we must find a passionate escape from our bread-winning careers and responsibilities to nurture our individual souls. For Perkins, that escape is photography.

Three years ago on his first backcountry solo trip to the Tetons with camera in tow, Perkins had an epiphany: this was exactly where he needed to be spending his free time.

“I get it now,” he told me. “I get why people do this and carry an extra pack of 30 pounds of gear to get that one shot. What began as an effort to spend more time on my own in the backcountry, and taking a camera with me, is now my creative outlet. I had the realization that I loved doing it, giving me reason to keep doing it, not to talk myself out of it. It’s an activity where I have the opportunity to memorialize what I see.”

After that first trip, Perkins began attending workshops with skilled nature photographers, furthering both his interest and skill.  He cites Marc Adamus, Jospeh Rossbach, Tom Mangelsen, and Art Wolfe as influences. “They’ve been fantastic,” he says.

Perkins is a master painter with his camera. “In my work I am surrounded by brilliant software engineers, extraordinarily gifted people, just in a different way. Photography is on this continuum. It is so great to be a photographer here in Idaho. In an off weekend, or if you have half of a Friday, you can get to any of the western parks, or in a long day all the way to Banff and Glacier,” he observes, noting that the U.S. Department of the Interior has used several of his images.

His art is available for purchase at Scotty Perkins Photography, and he has a current exhibit of six pieces at Eagle City Hall. “This year I have focused on discovering new places, as well as attending workshops to learn how to do processing, and composition,” he says.

Perkins has this advice for all artists with day jobs:  “Follow your own creative inspirations, wherever they may take you.”