WC: Tell us a little about yourself.

SD: My name is Steven DeWitt. I’m a conservation photographer and documentary filmmaker based in New York City. My company, Witness Tree Media, creates photographs and short films for businesses and organizations who are committed to environmental justice and solving the climate crisis.

WC: What connection do you have to the Eagle Valley? 

SD: Before moving to New York City my family and I called the Eagle Valley home for more than a decade. I fell in love with the mountains, forests and rivers of the Eagle Valley which ultimately led me to conservation photography.

WC: Why did you choose to pursue photography?

SD: I’ve always loved telling stories and when I realized I could tell visual stories with a camera I started learning as much as I could about it. Film was still king when I first started out and before we moved to Colorado I was working as a film technician in one of Boston’s pro labs. I mixed huge vats of silver-based chemistry, processed film and developed color and B&W prints in the darkrooms. I remember the positive film dryers were so big that I had to climb inside and straddle the huge fans (while they were on) to wipe down the dust. It was mental. So when I transitioned into the digital workspace my background in film influenced my technique and my approach to this form of art and storytelling.

WC: Favorite river or stream in Colorado?

SD: Man, that’s a tough one. I love them all. I’ve spent a ton of time exploring the Eagle River and every one of its tributaries. Whitney Creek is very special to me.

WC: What is your favorite hiking snack?

SD: Mixed nuts and raisins.

WC: What is your best memory of an experience you had while taking photos?

SD: Depression Era photographer Dorothea Lange said the camera is a tool that helps us see the world without a camera. I think about that every day, whether I’m out on a shoot or just going to the grocery store and I love turning people on to this idea, especially when it comes to environmental conservation. So about five years ago I was up well before sunrise leading a private workshop for this guy who’d come to the valley for a summer vacation. We were creating photographs of the Milky Way and meteors streaking across the predawn sky when a chorus of coyotes somewhere deep in the Eagles Nest Wilderness broke the silence of the waning night. As their song crescendoed, the glow of his camera’s LCD revealed a big toothy smile. Once the coyotes stopped singing he half asked half stated, “this happens every day.” “Yep,” I said, “whether we’re here to witness it or not”. That’s a pretty good memory.

WC: Three tips for aspiring photographers:

SD: 1) Practice using your camera on manual mode every single day until it becomes second nature. 10,000 hours is no joke, man.

2) The best camera is the one you have with you. The trick is to know the limitations of the tool you have so you don’t get frustrated and ultimately turned off from creating art because your photographs aren’t coming out the way you expect them to.

3 ) Never forget, there’s no one else like you in the entire world. So tell your story. There are definitely people out there who’ll be stoked to hear what you have to say.

WC: Favorite time of day for mountain photography?

SD: Literally any time. The hours before and after sunrise and sunset are what most people consider the best times of day and with good reason. But don’t let that limit you into thinking those are the only times to get out in the mountains and create beautiful photographs. I’ve created some of my favorite photographs at high noon. The key is to become a careful observer of light at all times of day and go out in all weather conditions. Observe. Shoot. Review. Repeat.

WC: What are you really proud of?

SD: Using my art to inspire positive environmental change.

To learn more about Steven DeWitt, learn about his current projects and see his work, please visit www.stevendewitt.com.

Steven is generously donating a portion of his sales of his Eagle River Watershed photography collection to Eagle River Watershed Council, to support restoration, education and monitoring work.