If the name Julie Magers Soulen and her gorgeous Colorado Photography seem familiar to you, it may be because her wonderful nature based photos have served both as an inspiration and as illustration for some of the articles we have published on our blog. Her captivating sunsets, succulent flowers images, magnificent mountain shots not only help bring us closer to the wonders that nature has to hold, but also allows us a brief glimpse into the divine order of life. Thank you Julie!
~ diane fergurson
MBS: Can you tell us a little bit about your background. How you got started in photography?
Julie: I have always had an interest in "taking pictures." My first experiences were through the viewfinder of my dad’s Kodak Brownie when I was around eight. My aunt soon picked up on my interest and bought me a little Kodak Hawkeye Flashfun camera of my own. Oh, was I proud! I started my very own family photo albums which I still have. It remained a hobby until 1999 when I began publishing regularly online at denverpost.com with my husband, Ric Soulen. His down to earth writing and my nature photography was an ongoing chronicle to our life living off grid in the Colorado Rockies. It was featured for seven years, in our groundbreaking "blog style" column, A Colorado Journal.
MBS: Wow! That "is" pretty groundbreaking if you stop and think about it.
Living off of the grid must have provided you with all kinds of interesting photographic
opportunities. What are some of the shots that you remember the most?
Julie: My home was perched on the side of a mountain with a view of the eastern horizon. This gave me a unique opportunity to capture sunrises and foggy mornings. I loved shooting both of these natural events. On the high plains of Colorado it is common during certain times of the year for the plains to be blanketed with fog. Our home was higher than the fog giving us a unique view of an "ocean" of fog below us. (example below)
MBS: When you photograph something, such as a natural fog event like you described, what is it that
you want your photograph to convey to the viewer? The event itself or is there something more?
Julie: When I "see" a photo of nature in all her beautiful colors and forms it has the ability to put me in the present moment where time does not exist. At times it is hard to take the shot because I just want to gape at whatever I'm looking at in that beautiful moment. But then the urge to share overcomes my stasis. It is the desire to share that beautiful moment with my viewer that invigorates me.
MBS: What kind of photographic equipment do you like to use?
Julie: I shoot with a Nikon D80 for my landscapes and most other shots. My lens is a Sigma 28-300mm. I also have a small Canon Powershot pocket camera that I carry around everywhere. It has become somewhat obsolete because of my mobile phone camera. They are pretty amazing. However I believe that it is not the camera, but the photographer's eye that is the most important piece of equipment.
MBS: "However I believe that it is not the camera, but the photographer's eye that is the most important piece of equipment." How so?
Julie: That is hard to explain in a couple sentences. An analogy might help to make my point though. A driver is not going to improve his driving skills by buying a more expensive car. Or a cook is not going to be a better cook with a fancy set of cookware. Both need to develop their skills to be better at what they do and the equipment is really just a tool to help them accomplish their goal. Now I'm not saying that nice tools are not nice, just not mandatory. I would love to buy the new Nikon D800! Haha!
MBS: Is there anyone or anything in particular that has has a big impact or influence on you and
on your work?
Julie: Living off grid for twelve years has probably impacted my photography the most. It allowed me to immerse myself in nature. We lived in a remote mountain home powered by solar energy and surrounded by acres of pine forest. Living so close to nature's rhythms becomes a way of life. If it is cloudy I might postpone doing the laundry. When it is cold and snowy we stayed inside by the woodstove burning wood that we harvested from our forest.
I have always felt at home with nature, poking around being curious about the natural world. As a child I was outside more than inside, exploring the leafy deciduous woods of Ohio near my home. It was much the same living in the Colorado mountains. There were miles of surrounding pine forest to explore. I had mountain lion and bear encounters and learned they are not as afraid of us as we like to think. I learned to read animal tracks that told stories of what happened the night before. Every day was an adventure of discovery. Nature has a way of teaching you if you simply pay attention to the details. I suppose that is why I enjoy landscape and nature photography so much.
MBS: Do you have a particular season you like to photograph more then others? If so, what is
it and why?
Julie: I do not have a favorite season for shooting. I love all of them! They all have so much to offer a photographer; minimalist snowscapes, spring flowers, mountain summers, and autumn trees. The only difference for me is that it is slightly easier during warmer months when you don't have to wear gloves. If it's really cold in the middle of winter it's a bit harder on me and the equipment.
MBS: What is a typical work day like for you?
Julie: My typical work day follows a bit of a routine. I try to do all of my online work early when I'm fresh. Some of it can be a bit technical. So while still in my pajamas with a cup of coffee in hand, I go through my email, do Etsy shop maintenance, answer Facebook comments, and other online tasks. And there seems to be a lot of them with online selling! Then I take a late morning break with my dogs and we go for a long walk. That helps me to clear my mind and shift gears to a more creative mode. Afternoons are for creative work mostly. I'll either go out on a shoot or work in the studio on photography. I pretty much work all day, sometimes longer, sometimes shorter, depending on life's demands.
MBS: What are you currently working on?
Julie: I am always working on several different things at once. It really has to do with what moves me on a particular day. My work table is currently hosting four nature photos in various states of progress. I also recently shot some dog photography that I'm planning on posting on my blog in a light hearted story telling mode. Then there is always my creative "to do list" where I keep ideas I'd like to do.
MBS: Is your work available other then online? Do you do shows?
Julie: Besides my online Etsy shop, my work is also currently being offered at The Fine Art and Frame Company in Fort Collins, Colorado. I do not currently have any future plans for any shows.
MBS: What advice do you have to anyone who wishes to (seriously) pursue an artistic path?
Julie: The best advice I can give anyone is to follow your heart. If you do not have a passion for your artistic path, then do something else. That passion will focus your direction and buoy you up when stagnation threatens. We all have so much to offer the world; be it art or science or anything else. Nothing is ever accomplished if your heart isn't in it.
You can find out more about Julie and where to purchase her wonderful work at: