Couloir Images, Rory B. Clow Photography: Blog en-us (C) Couloir Images, Rory B. Clow Photography [email protected] (Couloir Images, Rory B. Clow Photography) Mon, 16 Mar 2020 06:35:00 GMT Mon, 16 Mar 2020 06:35:00 GMT Couloir Images, Rory B. Clow Photography: Blog 84 120 Starting Down a New Path I once read a very impressive article that gave a great analogy for being a small business owner: essentially you’re a crazy person trying to ride on the back of an angry lion. (Go ahead and picture an African lion; it makes the ride seem a bit more appealing with his majestic mane, and as long as we’re using our imaginations, picture him in front of a sunset on a beach.)  Only the best make the ride successfully; the rest fall off and are eaten alive by the very lion they were trying to ride (Now picture this majestic lion gulping down a photographer… as the sun sets, the only thing left on the sand is a lonely camera in the fading light.) *** Cue tiny sad violin.***


Reading that article, I nodded my head empathetically at their analogy of throwing a lion into the mix of small business practices.  “It's like a man riding a lion. People think, 'This guy's brave.' And he's thinking, 'How the hell did I get on a lion, and how do I keep from getting eaten?" The tricky part of small business ownership is to avoid being eaten by the very thing that you threw your heart, hard work, tears, stress, money, and time into.


In portrait photography, I felt like I was the (wo)man riding the lion at the end of the classic 8-second ride. I was fighting to stay on (there are only 100 or so other portrait photographers in Steamboat to compete with, both professional, and John Smith who has a fancy camera and stamps watermarks on his iphone images. ((sidenote, there are actually some really impressive iphone photographers out there!)) The real problem was that my heart wasn’t in it. I got tired of holding onto the portrait/wedding/engagement lion, snapping portraits, looking into the eyes of naturally beautiful women who ask for their wrinkles to be photoshopped out for their engagement shoots and fit young men asking if I can just ‘muscle them up’ a touch and lose a few pounds. My heart is in photography, and the beauty of the photos is LOST on those who can’t find beauty in themselves. Photography was making me sad.


It might just be that I’m a Millennial Searcher, and focused on finding happiness. Not just my own, but for other people. If I could make people happy with my photography, I would be happy. I began taking inspiration from my own life. In this stunning, gorgeous valley that I call my home,  my own happiness comes from my outdoor activities; river guiding, hiking, climbing, Search and Rescue, biking, etc. I also quickly noticed that when I photograph those same activities, people don’t critique themselves as much. I rarely hear “I look fat” when someone looks back at my image of them rock climbing. They say “Wow, look how high up I am!” When they see photos of their snowmobile tour, they say “There was so much snow, and that sled was so hard to dig out when I got stuck!” When they see a photo of themselves on horseback with dirt all over their faces, they say “I look like a real cowboy.” THAT is what I want to hear. THAT is what I want to share with my clients. I want you, my client, to look at your life and be impressed with yourself and with what you have done with your life. Ignore the wrinkles, ignore the fat; those are just part of being human. What differentiates you from the rest of humanity is not your look, but your action, your passion, and the adventure you bring into your life.

So, for the past 6 months I’ve been preparing to jump ship from the lion ride. (Cats are sneaky and up to no good, anyway.) No more portraits, weddings, or engagements.  6 months have been spent readying partnerships with numerous outdoor guiding companies, setting up adventure insurances, taxes, licenses, etc. I’m not jumping off of the ‘Small Business Owner’ train, I’m just switching up my ride and getting ready for the long trail. Ditch the lion in the sunset scenario, and insert a wildebeest. (I’m sticking with the African theme…. Feel free to suggest a better ride if you think of one.) It’s going to be a hell of a ride on a  fun, crazy animal that looks like it was assembled from spare parts of other mammals. (Score, it also doesn’t eat meat; hypothetically this implies great success and that I won't get eaten). Coincidentally, wildebeest are also relentless and on the move, always looking for something better. This isn’t about looking pretty. This is about showing the world you’re amazing, a badass, and living life to the fullest. When you’re having fun, putting down your tech gadgets, and letting a professional cover the photography, you’re truly enjoying your adventure. You can’t help but look pretty, and look like a badass. I’ll be there to capture that.

Thank you for the support. Already, I have three adventure shoots booked on Day One. 2014 is going to be amazing. Don't worry, my wildlife and landscapes will still be posted and for sale!

With that, I present to you the new business path of Couloir Images, LLC. “Put down the camera, and enjoy your adventure.”



Request a pricing brochure here.

[email protected] (Couloir Images, Rory B. Clow Photography) adventure clow couloir images photography rory vacation Wed, 18 Dec 2013 21:36:36 GMT
Inspiration in Nature (Fold the Laundry. Take the dog to the Vet. Pay the bills. Take out the recycling. Call your mom. Sweep the floors. Send an invoice. Get that annoying noise in your car checked out. Fill your gas tank or suffer from pushing your vehicle to work. Water the garden. Feed the cat. Go to the grocery store so you can stop eating Mac and Cheese for dinner. Wash the Dishes. Call your insurance guy. COMCAST... come bury this DARN CABLE! Hang out with friends so they don't think you're dead. Fix the sink. Do that one favor you promised to do months ago... Etc etc etc......)


Lists. I enjoy the satisfaction of crossing something off a list. A dull black scribble on a paper becomes a VIBRANT dash as a green highlighter crosses it off. My goal; to make the paper as colorful as my stash of highlighters will possibly allow. Life is just better with color. Lately though, I've become frustrated with my lists. They've gotten so full that there are no more perfect lines of 'to-do'... there are sideways scrawls, triple underlines, double stars, anything to grab my attention and tell me YOU NEED TO DO THIS!


It's suffocating. To the point I want to throw all the lists into a little tiny fire, that preferably would be built on my desk and would accidently engulf my computer as well, so I can have a few days of repose from the incessant nagging that my lists have become. But let's be honest, building a desk fire is not exactly a practical (or cheap) way to handle my life's "to-do's." (Although it is very dreamy in a self-indulgent sort of way.)


I try to remind myself; one step at a time. Check one thing off, and you're one step closer.


*Cue much needed Monday AM inspiration!*

Personally, I get 99.999% of my inspiration from nature. I find myself wandering into the woods to recharge,  find some quality me-time, and just listen to the breeze blow through the leaves and feel the warm sun warm my face. Nature provides relaxation and answers to you if you’re open to them. Just when I was feeling like there was too much to possibly do, Nature provided me with this wonderful example of ‘take things one step at a time.”  


Ironically, I’m seeing this process repeat in my life. I needed the inspiration for my to-do lists, but it also reminded me that I have already put to work those same instincts that the termites live by, by doing tiny little things each day. For the past 23 days, I’ve been methodically throwing out or donating one item per day that I no longer use. Large items that frustrate me for their lack of use: an old exercise bike, the TV, a chair I never sit in. Cleaning up my life, as I call it.  (Realistically, I'm trying to ensure I won't become a hoarder or a creepy cat lady ((I don't even really like cats)) in my old age by changing habits now). At the same time, once a day, I’ve been adding to my life as well. Each day, after I remove one item of clutter from my life, I also make sure to do one thing that will change my life for the better and help me reach personal goals I have set. IT IS WONDERFUL. I feel so good at the end of each day; so much satisfaction. It’s only been 23 days and already my home feels cleaner and my life feels more organized. I wish I’d started this years ago!


I think the termites know something that most of us forget; you don’t have to be large or have a lot of time to get things done. Your list doesn’t have to be completed right away, either. “Being perfect is a form of procrastination.” Just get ‘er done.  Enough of the cheesy talk; go outside and find your inspiration.

[email protected] (Couloir Images, Rory B. Clow Photography) clow in inspiration monday morning nature photography rory springs steamboat termites Mon, 19 Aug 2013 16:06:45 GMT
Soul Skiing Sometimes skiing isn't about the powder. It's not always about the number of laps you take, or the pillow drops you zipper through. For me, my best days of skiing are what I like to title, "Ski days for the Soul." Last weekend my soul was happy, my skis were happy, and my camera was happiest of all. It was the perfect combination for a ski day just for the Soul.

I lack a season pass. People look at me and always say 'awe, that's too bad! You live in Steamboat; it's a bummer you don't get to ski every day." I accept the remarks from these folks and acknowledge that sometimes it sucks, but really, deep inside, my heart starts beating faster with excitement when people discuss my lack of a season pass. I don't tend to tell folks when we're discussing resort skiing, but I have a secret far greater than the value of a pass; I know where the powder stashes are at 3pm, and the places where I will giggle and gasp my way through deep powder or smooth surface frost without seeing another person all day. I don't need a pass to wait in crowded lines and rush down the hills next to strangers who anger me and take my lines. I'm a back country skier, and I privately let my skis sketch doodled curves through white powder canvases all on my own, without the pressures of resort skiing. Secretly, I hang my head to these strangers about not having a pass, when really, I'm just hoarding the goods for myself. Other people think "oh, poor you," but I think, "Ah, I live the best life!"

Last weekend, Drew, Brian and I left Steamboat at the decently late time of 8:00am, with only a minor lag from me having to drag my sans-reverse snowmobile off of my trailer and onto Drew's. (Thank goodness I was skiing with guys.... I'll admit, I can't drag it off by myself.) I just got the '02 Polaris RMK 800, which I have now named the BLUE BEAST due to its size. Although it's old, I was excited to see what kind of doors it would open for me that were closed to me last year. Many of the best peaks to summit and pitches to ski are MILES off of the beaten path; too far for even the most avid hiker to reach in one day. This sled was my new mobility to access these remote gems.

I can't tell you where we skied. It's part of the unspoken code of backcountry skiing; you don't say where you went or how to get there. (Sounds like a "Fight Club" movie reference, doesn't it???)  Our adventure started with a 9 mile ride on a challenging approach that gave my spirit another boost of energy when not a single one of us buried our sleds. Snowmobiling is a sport I lovingly call 'Digging;' sometimes those couple hundred pounds of beastly machine can't stay on top of the powder and when they sink, they go all the way to the bottom and take hours to dig out. The fact that we all made it through the challenging and deep snow was my first indicator that this was going to be an amazing day.

When the mountain we wished to ski appeared in sight, we abandoned our sleds, slapped our skins on our skis, and began our hike approach to the peak I will refer to as 'The Lady" to protect her location. *wink wink, don't tell who she is if you recognize her!

The hike in was almost as exhilarating as the turns out. It was a stunning blue-bird day, and the higher up we got, the more beautiful it became. The views stretched for miles and as the air became colder, Winter's grasp became more apparent. The trees turned into standing ghosts of their former selves, and the air froze coming out of our mouths. My favorite image of the day is of their ghostly appearance as we summited the west ridge of "The Lady's" neighboring peak.

At the top, the most gorgeous vista awaited us. Massive cornices towered off of The Lady's north side, where old slide activity could be seen. We dug a snow pit, which is a way to gather data about the avalanche dangers of the slopes we wanted to ski, and determined that with a CT test of 7, there would be no skiing on her steeper pitches. Instead, we agreed upon summiting from the west ridge and then skiing down her west face, which had an average slope of 27 degrees. Steep enough to slide, but unlikely given some of the bridging and sheer tests results we conducted.

Talk about Skiing for the Soul. I could feel the pitter-patter of my heart as we passed the large cornice on her north side. I could barely keep up with my partners as each direction I turned flooded my senses with incredible beauty and invoked me to pull off my gloves and document my surroundings. I lagged behind them the entire way, breathing in all of the beauty around us, and completely shirking my trail breaking duties to the stronger and faster guys while I took photos (and caught my breath). There are no words to describe the feelings that overcame me, other than saying I felt more alive than any powder day in a resort, and happier than anyone in Routt County at that moment.

At our summit we ripped our skins off and looked at our decent. Crisp air blew around our cold faces, encouraging us to descend quickly. Brian took off first, and Drew and I glanced at each other to see who was next. I patted the massive camera on my side that I had lugged with me, and he agreed that I should go next so I could get some shots of him coming down. We both put our Avalungs into our mouths out of caution and grinned awkward grins with the hoses clamped in our teeth. (An avalung is a hose that is hooked to your backpack that allows you to exhale out of the bottom of your pack so that in the event of an avalanche burial, you increase your survival time by diverting the warm air of your breath away from your face as it can create a suffocating ice sheet.) I took off, linking together 1,000 vertical feet of the most perfect turns I have ever achieved. Each turn was like flying; I could feel the skis take control as I finished a turn and they would guide me into the next, where I'd take command and initiate the smooth carve, sinking into the deep snow and then following the skis out of the turn as their engineered shape dictated they do so. Fat skis for fat, floating turns.

Drew chose his lines down carefully, sailing through the dead trees in graceful arcs. Brian was waiting for us halfway down, and we leap-frogged each other to the bottom. Without the winds we encountered at the top, we found balmy temperatures at the bottom and removed layers for our slog of a hike back up to the West Ridge. From there, we skied a second pitch through mellow open patches of standing dead trees back towards our abandoned snowmobiles. The sun was starting to melt our precious snow, and we wanted one last descent before it became sticky.



 From his smile, I knew Drew was thinking what I was thinking. This Day is INCREDIBLE. Blue bird skies, warm weather, good friends, hard hiking, incredible view, and perfect turns. Rather than leaving behind push piles in-bounds at resorts, we descended to our sleds and left only our quiet tracks in our wake. We did not see another person all day or cross another skier's tracks. This day was a day of quiet mountains, good friends, and skiing strictly for the happiness of the soul.






To see more images, visit the "Action" page here

or visit the "Mountain" page here

[email protected] (Couloir Images, Rory B. Clow Photography) Mountain Skiing Snow backcountry skiing photography rory clow skiing for the soul Tue, 12 Feb 2013 21:59:48 GMT
A Rant on Photoshop For years, I used to pettily separate myself from other photographers by declaring right on my home page "No Photoshop used to alter these images."  I was proud of the work I had done; I wanted people to know my wildlife shots weren't taken at a zoo through the bars of a cage that were then Photoshopped out, and that my landscapes were capturing the beauty of the natural environment and did not have color saturation increased or power lines removed. I had to work for my photos, almost get eaten by wild grizzlies, and hike far enough out to avoid the power lines. I wanted people to know that.


I was a purist. To an extent, I still am.



First, let me explain the problems I had with Photoshop. Photography is an art, and it takes skill. These days, everyone has a nice camera, and everyone can take 'professional' images. What was left to the true professionals to make their living was having a good eye and knowing how to ask the camera to perform as they want it to in those 'hard to shoot' situations that baffle the amateurs with the good cameras. Then Photoshop became cheap enough for the average 'guy with a good camera' and the business declined; they could fix their bad photos. I became frustrated with the fakeness I was seeing in professional images that photographers were using to set themselves apart. I chose photography as a career path because I wanted to DOCUMENT the beauty around me, not to fabricate it. I didn't want to erase the beautiful wrinkles on an old woman's face that told her life journey, and I didn't want to create composites that stack images on top of one another for a very surreal natural landscape because it tricked people into thinking 'Where is this gorgeous place!? I MUST go there!"  All the while being an unachievable place. I simply wanted people to see the beauty around them, and be proud of the 'blemishes' that make them who they are.

I was pretty much a stick in the mud about this for years. I'll have you know, I pride myself on also being an open-minded person, so I also would embark on lengthy conversations with other artists about this subject. I'll let you in on a secret; two people in particular have swayed my judgment.

A painter has a unique upper hand on photography; there are no advanced paintbrushes that allow the unskilled to produce beautiful canvases. However, this aside, the painter creates their work with the hope of evoking an emotion. That is the purpose of art, whether it is their own emotion or their clients'. So the question was posed to me; if a photo evokes an emotion, who are you to judge how it was created?

Photography is art. Composites are art. Composite and Photoshop artists are the 'painters' of the photography world. Composites are genuinely GORGEOUS and should be valued in the art world.


I've backed down from declaring that Photoshop is 'bad' for photography and have become incredibly impressed with all it has to offer. The one thing I have not changed is that I still STRONGLY believe that photographers should talk about the tools of their trade, and let their viewers know what they are looking at. Is this an unaltered photo, a real place that you too can enjoy as I have? Or is this a Photoshopped image that gains beauty from bits of my imagination? The third option would be a composite, which means multiple photos are take of THE SAME REAL PLACE and are then stacked on top of each other to show changes (stars fireworks, etc.) These are the manipulated images I have become most interested in, as they are still depicting a real place but combining aspects of that real place.

Dabbling in this new art form of Photography, I created my second composite for Mt. Werner's 50th anniversary celebration! Real place, stacked fireworks; you get the entire show in one image. Let me know your thoughts. I'm for one, excited to have something new to play with, and I promise I'll always tell you when I decide to start tweaking an image. My walls about Photoshop are coming down, but I think the communication from the artist should always be there. I for one, will always want to know what is real and what is a painting.

[email protected] (Couloir Images, Rory B. Clow Photography) 50th clow composite fireworks mt photography photoshop rory skiing werner Tue, 12 Feb 2013 19:34:00 GMT
Chris and Jeanni Last weekend I experienced one of the most incredible engagement shoots I have ever had the honor of taking part in. Chris and Jeanni are long-time friends and local Steamboatians, and they both brought some really creative and fun ideas to the table. Jeanni brought along a pink umbrella and a pink scarf (one of the colors they have chosen for their wedding), and we were able to create a lot of unique shots using these items. Both Chris and Jeanni were also very adventurous; they were up for every suggestion I threw at them, which is highly uncommon!

I feel incredibly lucky to know these two and even luckier to have been asked to do four different engagement shoots with them. We will be doing one shoot for each of the four seasons, which I feel ties in perfectly with demonstrating how long they have been together and will create a really beautiful 'save the date' invitation! There is something to be said for choosing a date quite a ways off; you certainly get to have more fun planning the wedding! Congrats to these two amazing people; you are a stunning couple!


Here a few of my favorites from our shoot:


[email protected] (Couloir Images, Rory B. Clow Photography) Fri, 25 Jan 2013 21:59:40 GMT
Steamboat Barn Composite A few nights ago, I decided to stretch my artistic horizons and attempt a composite. I formerly have always been against the use of Photoshop when a single beautiful image can capture the moment, but a good friend posed a question to me; "Who are we as artists to demand that art speak to people in a certain way?"  He was right. Art is art, and if it speaks to you, you get it. I shouldn't declare one form better than the other, and I thus decided I needed a little push to try new forms of art.


I still am passionate about artists telling their viewers what is straight out of the camera and what is a composite. Sometimes I just want to know if that is the real deal, and if the artist that captured the image was lucky enough to see it with their own eyes. On the other hand, sometimes I want to be impressed by that artist's mastery of Photoshop, so I think it is very critical to say which is which. This final image is actually 5 images overlayed over top one another. What do you think?

[email protected] (Couloir Images, Rory B. Clow Photography) Steamboat Springs, CO Steamboat barn composite couloir images photoshop rory b clow photography rory clow rory clow photography steamboat photographer Thu, 10 Jan 2013 20:44:17 GMT
Halloween 2012 Last night was a stunningly beautiful All Hallow's Eve. The entire town of Steamboat turned out for our annual Trick-or-Treat crawl, during which the main street of town is blocked off and ghost, goblins, and ghouls scamper back and forth from local venues to gather as much candy as possible. Our local Search and Rescue team and the Fire Department also participated in the festivities. I got some great shots with their help and hope you enjoyed your Halloween!


[email protected] (Couloir Images, Rory B. Clow Photography) Couloir Images Rory B Clow Photography Rory Clow Steamboat Fire Truck Steamboat Springs Steamboat Springs Halloween Stroll Town from above Town of Steamboat Springs Thu, 01 Nov 2012 20:15:07 GMT