Whenever I stop by Rachael Schumacher’s Flickr page, and I often do, I am reminded of the grandeur of nature, and the peace that can be found there. I’ve heard it said that looking at someone’s photographs is a bit like seeing the world through their eyes. For me personally Rachael’s point of view feels like home. She finds beauty in nature on a wide scale, much as I do, whether it is the way the light falls gently on the grass, the majesty of a waterfall, or the epic splendor of a canyon. These are the things that make our hearts thrill.
At the ripe old age of 18, Rachael is already maturing as a photographer by leaps and bounds. I have been following her progress for a while now, and it is a delight to see her talents unfold. I hope she achieves her goal of working for the National Park Service someday because I get the impression she would do a fantastic job caring for those national treasures.
Rachael has kindly granted me the honor of an interview. I thoroughly enjoyed reading through her answers, and I hope you do too:
Hometown: Lake Forest Park, WA
Q1: As a fellow Seattleite I’d say it’s fair to assume you are pretty awesome. What is your favorite thing about the Northwest? Your least favorite?
A1: Hah thank you! I won’t deny that we are a pretty cool crowd. It’s really quite the privilege to be living in the Northwest, I mean it’s practically limitless. It is impossible to run out of things to do and places to explore, I feel pretty fortunate to have three national parks all within a few hours of where I live. My only real complaint is that sunshine is rare, but I guess that just makes us more appreciative of it.
Q2: If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go and why?
A2: I’ve always wanted to travel to South America, ideally to Chile or Argentina. The national parks there are absolutely gorgeous, there are specific spots I’d like to go such as Talampaya National Park in Argentina, and Llullaillaco National Park and Torres del Paine National Park in Chile. To me the Andes in Chile are sort of like the Canadian Rockies of the southern hemisphere, so I guess there’s some sort of nostalgia I associate with that region though I’ve never even been there.
Q3: When did you first get into photography, and what do you love about it?
A3: I started out just using disposables as a kid, bringing them on hikes or vacations, taking pictures of anything I liked, it was a very simple pleasure. As I got older I bought more cameras, almost all digital. I enjoyed the digital but it never looked right to me, so on trips I would say fuck the digital camera and stuck to disposables. It kind of took me back to my childhood in a sense, it was again an easy way to document my adventures and all the things I loved. When I take a picture of a event or place I get to take it with me and keep it forever.
Q4: I think your Flickr photostream is a bit of an undiscovered treasure. Looking through it is fun because I can see the progression of your talent. I noticed that you’ve gravitated towards nature and landscapes lately with stunning results. What is it about the outdoors that inspires you? What else inspires you?
A4: Why thanks! You are right, I have transitioned from taking pictures of my teenage shenanigans to almost strictly nature shots. I really don’t think I can explain my love for the outdoors without sounding unoriginal, but I suppose on a more personal note, I have really bad anxiety, and the one thing that brings me absolute tranquility is nature. Besides, nothing photographs better than nature. I won’t deny the fact that I also smoke pot and it does have it’s inspirational… qualities, but that’s for another day.
Q5: What was your first camera, and what is your favorite camera?
A5: My first camera was a Fujifilm Discovery S600 Zoom. It cost me 60 dollars of my own money and it was at the time a big deal. It got me some decent pictures but nothing amazing, not long after I bought a digital camera anyway. My favorite camera by far is my Minolta Hi-Matic. The first pictures I ever posted on my Flickr were taken with that camera, I’ve used it only once since then and the film never came out, hoping to try it out again sometime soon.
Q6: Anything to add on the film vs. digital front?
A6: I think digital gets an unfair reputation for not being real photography, or something like that, but I think it’s a fantastic thing. Film is in my opinion much more attractive than the look of digital but film has it’s limits sometimes, a more obvious one being the number of pictures you can take. I just like you can make adjustments as you go, whereas film can be a bit of a risk and you’re never really certain if you actually have the picture you just took.
Q7: Judging from your photostream you’ve been on some grand adventures this summer. Any favorite places or adventures you’d like to share?
A7: A couple summers ago, I took a trip with my family back to Glacier National Park in Montana and Waterton Lakes National Park in Alberta. I had been once before, when I was 12 or so, but I didn’t remember it much. I think Glacier was, by far, the most beautiful place I have ever been. I am fond of Yellowstone and that might just be my favorite park after Glacier but Glacier was phenomenal. What was great about it was that it wasn’t very crowded, not as many tourists as in Yellowstone, you could easily find solitude almost anywhere. Not to mention nothing even compared to the view I had from my room at Many Glacier Hotel every morning.
Q8: What does your perfect day look like?
A8: I suppose it depends, I really do like sunlight when photographing lakes and trees, good color, shadows, etc. But if I’m taking pictures of greenery, or mountains, storm clouds, for sure. When I heard there were going to be thunder storms during our trip to Yellowstone I almost pissed myself, it just added a whole new level of light and color to my drive through the Lamar Valley. I can honestly say I had never seen anything more beautiful in my life, the whole time we were there I kept screaming “The conditions are perfect!!!” and I made my family pullover at every turnout. They were all genuinely annoyed with me that day.
Q9: Where do you see yourself a few years from now as far as photography goes? Any plans, hopes, or dreams?
A9: Honestly I just like hearing that some people think my pictures are pretty. It’s not really for the recognition or anything, though it is nice, but when I take a picture it’s of a special moment I had to myself, and if someone can share that same moment too, that’s awesome. I’ve also for about five years now wanted to pursue a career in the National Park Service, it’s inevitable that i’ll continue to take pictures but if I can be living in a national park too, well that would be a dream come true.
Q10: I know you’re a big music lover, who are a few of your favorites right now?
A10: I’ve been really diggin’ Best Coast, and was for a while before her latest album, she really does write the best music for smoking pot on the beach while taking pictures, very feel good music. I also listened to a lot of Wavves over the summer, which made me feel really hip and weird but it just happened, Best Coast and Wavves do have coordinating styles of music. Also loved the new (old) Department of Eagles album, it was my main listen during my Rainier trip it made the whole experience so splendid and tranquil.