Here’s the ten part of our interview series celebrating our own home state, the beautiful state of Arizona.
It was an absolute pleasure to chat with amazingly talented Tyler Sichelski about his landscape photographies.
Q: Tyler. First time I came across of your photography was your Arizona series. I would like to talk about that, but before can you tell us about yourself and tell us what your background was? and What was your childhood like?
My name is Tyler Sichelski (pronounced Sick-el-ski), and I’m photographer/space geek/wild horse superhero/pit bull dad based in Scottsdale, Arizona. I was born in Denver, CO and raised in Illinois. I have a beautiful fiancé, and soon-to-be step daughter. I got into photography about 10 years ago while doing freelance graphic design. I’ve been into astronomy since I was a little kid, and astrophotography was something I wanted to do ever since seeing a picture of the Milky Way over a mountain range in National Geographic back in the 90’s. In 2013, I moved from the light polluted skies of Illinois to Arizona for a job relocation. I was so excited, as my late uncle always watched westerns growing up, and I was fascinated by the Sonoran desert. It was so alien to me, and I still love seeing it every day. I upgraded to a DSLR as soon as I settled in, and got into learning astrophotography via some local photographers, and online. I tend to be hyper-focused when learning something I’m very interested in, and I spent a lot of hours in the first year learning everything I could. I learned a lot from Ian at LoneySpeck.com, and eventually became friends with him, and even becoming a contributor to the site. I’ve had the opportunity to help thousands of people learn more about astrophotography, and I hope I can continue that.
In May 2015, I witnessed the birth of a wild horse in the Tonto National Forest while shooting some astro, and I would never be the same. I was completely blown away to witness them in person, in their natural state. I immediately felt the pull into that world, and over 2 years later, I’m more involved than ever. I not only photograph them, but volunteer every week with an advocacy organization for the Salt River wild horses.
Q: What first drew you to photography? Was there anything specific that you can remember that made you want to become a photographer?
I was first drawn to photography because of graphic design. I felt it was easier to go out and capture the pictures myself than looking through stock websites. I didn’t get passionate about it until I moved to Arizona, and the beauty of the state and the dark skies ignited a fire.
Q: All your photography works are absolutely beautiful and of course our favorites are the Arizona ones. As a professional photographer, what did you find so unique about Arizona?
First of all, thank you for that compliment! Arizona is so unique, and people that have lived here their whole life are unaware how beautiful it really is compared to most of the country. Before moving here, I thought Arizona was all desert… as most are. I was completely blown away by the diverse ecosystems in this state. You can go from desert to alpine forest in less than 2 hours by driving north, or only 20 minutes if you drive to the top of Mt. Lemmon! Also, the true spirit of the Wild West that is the Spanish mustang wild horses, is something to treasure.
Q: Did you get to photograph any hidden places in Arizona?
There are a lot of less-traveled places in Arizona that I love to go to. I spend a lot of time on Google Earth looking for spots! I will say though, there are some hidden places along the Salt River that require some hiking, or kayaking to get to, that are truly breathtaking.
Q: Do you, or have you ever, looked to other artists for inspiration or education?
So many other artists have inspired me, and continue to. Just to name a few: Ian Norman, Mark Gee, Jimmy McIntyre, Michael Shainblum, Jack Fusco, Kent Keller, Peter Coskun, Kimerlee Curyl, Yuri Beletsky… and that’s just on the top of my mind. There are so many.
Q: What equipment do you use to capture your footage? What are some of the challenges of using them?
I am a Canon shooter, and I have a full frame 6D, and a crop sensor 80D. As for lenses, I have an eclectic assortment from professional Canon glass to many 3rd party lenses that I’ve tested and loved. As for challenges, it’s been the innovation from Canon. It’s starting to become troublesome seeing other manufactures innovating each year, and Canon behind the times.
Q: What is the most memorable trip you have had in recent memory?
My most recent trip out of town to Kingman was pretty memorable. I took my fiancé, who was my girlfriend at the time, up there for the weekend. We visited the wild burros in Oatman, rescued a dog from the desert on the way to see the Cerbat wild horses, enjoyed the sites along that stretch of Route 66, and did some wide field astro near Kingman. I love quick get-a-ways like that.
Q: What advice would you give to someone embarking on their first adventure?
You can only learn so much from behind the computer. Whether you feel “ready” or not, go out and learn from your mistakes and accomplishments. Try not to stress about what you can’t control either. Enjoy the moments, and capture them to the best of your ability. Learn from your experiences, then repeat.
Q: What other projects are you currently working on?
Right now I have a couple projects going on, including a wild horse photography book featuring my photos of the Salt River herd. I’m also working on more concepts for the Surreal Night Project, which uses unique elements in a photo to make it seem surreal.
Q: Closing Thoughts … How do you think photography and traveling have changed your view of the world?
The two fields I’m currently working in, Astro and wild horses, both have had a significant impact to my view on the world. Being under the stars, in complete darkness is a humbling experience that everyone should have. Understanding what exactly you are looking at, and how small we are compared to the cosmos gives you a perspective that you can’t get anywhere else.
Observing the wild horses has ignited a fire in my heart for these animals. I volunteer a lot of my time to making sure they continue to have a home in the wild, and educating the public on the facts… and not what our government or ranchers tell them. It’s really sad how much destruction can come of pure greed. Humanity quickly forgets how much we owe to this animal, and everything we accomplished on their backs. I’ll spend the rest of my days giving them a voice, and sharing beautiful photos of them