Michael Cooper is a landscape photographer and father of one living in Kansas City, Missouri. Born and raised in the geographically flat Missouri, Michael is always looking for an excuse to travel across America in search of the biggest mountains and best landscapes. We had the opportunity to talk to Michael about how he got into photography, his goals and favorite spots so far. Read on to see his journey.
How did you get into photography, and how has it made a positive impact on your life?
Photography isn’t something that I was always interested in. I was into sports and being outside like most other kids but never had a particular love for nature. It wasn’t until my first trip to Colorado in my early 20’s that I really discovered my love for mountains and hiking. Photography naturally paired well with hiking and over the years I developed a love for photography. It wasn’t until last November that I really decided to focus on my photography. Since then I’ve started a photography focused Instagram and have been learning how to edit and take better pictures. It’s a daily process but I love it!
Where do you live, and where are some of your favorite spots for photography and adventure?
I have lived my whole life in Kansas City, Missouri and its surrounding suburbs. My favorite spots for photography are unfortunately far from Missouri, but I’m already planning some hikes for this spring and I’m looking forward to the challenge of trying to take some vacation quality nature pictures in Missouri without relying on my love for mountains.
What are your goals in photography?
My most immediate goal is to get a myself a new camera before my next trip. I’d also like to set up an online shop to sell prints of my best pictures. After that I would love to land a job in photography in some capacity. National Geographic photographer has been my dream job for over a decade but at this point I’d be happy just working with a camera in my hands.
What gear do you use?
I’m currently using a Fuji FinePix S1. This was a great camera for when I was first starting out since it came with a 50x zoom and it’s water resistant. I’m planning on upgrading to a DSLR or a mirrorless camera before my next trip but I haven’t figured out exactly what camera I want yet.
Where are some of your favorite spots from your travels?
The island of Kauai in Hawaii is easily my favorite place that I’ve travelled to. Perfect 70-80 degree temperature almost every day, massive tree covered mountains and everywhere you look there is either a rainbow or waterfall because of how often it rains. Plus 3/4th of the island is inaccessible by car so it really makes you feel like you are exploring a lost civilization.
Sedona, Arizona is a close second for me. As much as I enjoy regular old mountains I love the beautiful red hues and all the variance of color you get in the red rocks of Sedona. Sedona is also a “Dark Sky Designation” which means that at night time it’s an incredible place to see the stars. It’s almost eerie driving around in a city with so many people but so little light.
Where are some of your bucket list spots for photography and adventure?
My dad used to go on family vacations every year as a kid so he’s been all over America. As soon as he was old enough, he was across the ocean exploring Europe on his own. He’s been to a lot of incredible places yet when I asked him where his favorite place in the world was he instantly answered with The Swiss Alps. I plan to one day see it for myself to see if it lives up to the hype.
Norway is also a dream destination of mine, I find fjords incredibly beautiful and I would love to see one with my own eyes someday. Seeing the northern lights has been on my bucket list for a long time and being able to visit somewhere that has both is incredibly appealing to me.
Where is your next big adventure?
I want to spend a few weeks exploring the five national parks in southern Utah. I absolutely adore Sedona, Arizona and the last time I was there I ran into an older, well traveled couple. They had been to Sedona something like 11 times and they said the only place in the world they’ve been to with comparable red rocks was Southern Utah. That really stood out to me and the more I research it the more I want to go. Zion National Park in particular really appeals to me with it’s massive red rock walls.
Follow Michael on Instagram: @mcooper086
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