In 2009, About.com sat down with photographer Ian Shive to discuss the release of The National Parks: Our American Landscape - a collection of over 200 stunning images depicting America's national parks. Now, the book has been released in a smaller and less expensive paperback, so we decided to follow up with Shive and see what he’s been up to.
Q: Thanks for chatting with About.com again Ian. How have things been for you since the original release of The National Parks: Our American Landscape?
A: Thanks Lauren, I'm excited to talk with About.com again. Things have been great since the first publication of the book. The publication of the hardcover really changed my life in so many ways. It was the first time I had ever shared my work in such a comprehensive volume with a wide audience. It was nerve-wracking at first because I basically just put myself completely out there but the response has been so warming and inspiring that my nerves are now settled. Since the original publication I've also continued my travels through the parks, camera in-hand, many of those images have been included in the new paperback edition.
Q: What kind of feedback did you receive after it's release?
A: Incredibly positive! Not only did I get great feedback on the images, but I had the opportunity to interact with so many different people at book signings. Those people shared their personal stories, memories and reasons why the National Parks were so important to them. That's what great about the parks, they go beyond just nature and the environment and they become capsules for our country's collective memories. The feedback continues to be amazing and is the foundation upon which I continue to build my new work.
Q: Now the book is being offered in softcover? Does this feel like the book has a new beginning?
A: This definitely feels like a new beginning. I actually feel like the paperback is the book I wish the first one was. I'm a perfectionist almost to a fault, which is such a paradox. As a photographer I constantly revisit places hoping to capture them in more unique and rare moments. With the book, it's the same approach. I've added 40 new images to the pages, some from places that were already covered the first time, like Grand Teton, and others of places I wasn't able to get to before the first one went to print, such as Great Smoky Mountains. The book now is more comprehensive than the first one, there isn't a geographical area it doesn't represent, from Hawaii to Alaska, Maine to Florida, Kentucky to California to the Rockies. Still, I wish I could add even more!
Q: How do you think the release of softcover will affect readers/buyers?
A: The book is now much smaller and much more affordable. With the physical cover being soft, it makes it more travel friendly. I think it will work well as a travel companion for those beginning a summer trip to the parks or a long road trip. The photos are still maximum size with full page bleeds though so you don't lose the impact of these beautiful, wide-open spaces. I hope that this smaller size will help it get into more hands and remind people why the parks are so important and I hope that it inspires them to put their boots on and go for a weekend hike in one.
Q: When we spoke in 2009, you mentioned that the book was a personal reflection on your time in each park. What do you hope readers will take away from your experiences?
A: I've never had lofty goals for the book. It continues to be a visual diary of my life and experiences in these magnificent places and I hope that through my lens, people are inspired to pursue their own memories outdoors. I believe the seeds of environmental consciousness begin with an environmental experience. Once that seed is planted, positive thinking towards our natural world will only continue to grow.
Q: Thanks to people like yourself and Ken Burns, the national parks are receiving a lot more recognition. How do you hope this attention affects the parks?
A: I hope we have more parks and they expand the boundaries and opportunities to experience the parks. I'm actually somewhat frustrated with the current way the NPS works. I've had too many experiences where campgrounds are completely filled and I'm forced into a motel or sleeping on the side of the road. I believe no campground should ever be full, that if they are, we need more of them. The benefits this country receives from being outdoors and appreciating our heritage reach far and wide and are intangible but definitely there, such as strengthening family bonds, peace of mind and mental well-being and physical well-being from exercise. I also hope to see the parks become completely free of charge, year 'round. What are our taxes for otherwise? Less war, more parks.
Q: Do you have a favorite park?
A: Wherever I was last. Current favorite of the moment is the Florida Everglades.
Q: In the book, you have such a simplistic attitude with the parks and your photography. In 2009, you said, "There is no privilege. Sometimes you see amazing things; sometimes it's just a nice drive?" Do you feel the same today?
A: Absolutely. No matter how much money you have you aren't guaranteed to have a great sunset over the mountains. Nature's greatest show isn't a ticket that can be bought.
Q: Do you have a favorite photo in the book? Or a memorable experience while making it?
A: The entire book is a diary of my greatest moments and experiences. From remembering the thunder and lightning on the shores of the Apostle Islands, but having no rain, to sitting in a field of waist high, golden grass with the Santa Cruz Island Fox for 45-minutes while he ran around me to new memories with my father in Yosemite and my mother in Great Smoky Mountains. The parks are an envelope of memories filled with the pages of the book.
Q: What sorts of projects have you been working on since the book's release?
A: The biggest project has been my work with Wild Life: A New Generation of Wild a TV show I was fortunate enough to be a part of with some leading young actors. We premiered the preview episode on April 18th at GenerationWild.tv. It has been such a great opportunity to bring the parks and the outdoors to a new generation of people. The pieces follows me and three friends, who are well-known faces from television shows such as One Tree Hill, as we venture in a few different places in Florida including the Everglades. It is probably one of the most in-depth, behind-the-scenes videos I've ever done and I'm immensely proud to be a part of it. It really captures on film what I believe my experiences in photos represent.
Q: What do you have planned for the future?
A: More parks! I want to spend more time exploring our country and creating more quiet time for myself to shoot. I hope to get to Great Sand Dunes National Park in Colorado in the coming month. I'm also looking forward to some international travel this summer as well. I also hope to continue to update and publish my work and share with people as long as they want to see it!
The National Parks: Our American Landscape is available in bookstores everywhere, and online.