on landscape The online magazine for landscape photographers

Finding Your Creative Voice

If you want to work on your art, work on your life

Colleen Miniuk

Colleen Miniuk fled the grey cubicle walls at Intel Corporation in 2007 to pursue a fulfilling full-time outdoor photography and writing career. Her credits include National Geographic calendars, Arizona Highways, AAA Via, National Parks Traveler, and a broad variety of other publications. She has served three times as an Artist-in-Residence with Acadia National Park.

Colleen is putting the final touches on her next book, Going with the Flow, a part-memoir, part adventure travel story on how she paddled her way out of adversity and into happiness on Lake Powell and the Colorado River.”


I never intended to become a full-time outdoor photographer-and once I left my uninspiring software engineering job at Intel Corporation behind in 2007 to do just that, I certainly never believed I had the capacity to be a creative one.

I initially took up photography as creative outlet-a much needed distraction from my stressful corporate job in 2001. As I learned what things like aperture, shutter speed, and ISO were, I often visited places familiar to me, like family properties and previous vacations spots, with my camera in hand. In doing so, I could easily describe what I was seeing and attempt to make a photograph of it. Later, I would compare my visualization with the results: did what I see come out of the camera? Lacking experience and technical expertise, more often than not, the answer was "No."

My photography knowledge expanded over time, and eventually, I began selling my work at local art shows and to local publications just for fun, but with surprising success. So much so, I escaped from the grey cubicles walls of Corporate America a mere six years after picking up photography as a hobby.

When I left my job at Intel, I asked a friend-a professional nature photographer for over 20 years-for advice on improving my chances of selling my photographs to national-level magazines. "Go around to all the icons in the Southwest and photograph them differently," she said.

So that's exactly what I did. I analysed photographs in magazines, calendars, and postcards. If the photograph appeared to be from sunrise, I photographed the same location at sunset. If it was made in summer, I photographed it in winter. If the photograph had been made during the day, I photographed it at night. Over time, I consistently made sellable and published images, but I never truly liked the photographs I was making-not a great way to start off a full-time career! 

This is a premium article and requires a paid subscription to access. Please take a look at the subscribe page for more information on prices.

On Landscape is part of Landscape Media Limited , a company registered in England and Wales . Registered Number: 07120795. Registered Office: 1, Clarke Hall Farm, Aberford Road, WF1 4AL. Midge Specs, midge net glasses from the Highlands.