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About Me

Peter koppenaal

Mine is not a story of Art School, Gallery shows, and Magazine Publications.  I'm just a guy who fell in love with photography early on in my life and now try to share with other people some of the visual stories I've captured. There's a story behind every image that I share,  but what I love about photography is that every person brings their own stories when viewing an image, and those intersect with my images in fascinating ways. I love to share my stories with people and hear what theirs are. That's what makes life interesting. My story has shaped my art and everything you see on this site.  Here's the short version....

My roots: I was born in Montreal to academic parents (I am a dual US-Canadian citizen, and I spend time in Canada every year.). I remember as a young child traversing the vast open spaces of Canada in the back of my parents' station wagon, from Montreal to Vancouver and back, often camping along the way in newly opened Canadian Provincial parks carved from the edge of the wilderness.

     

Left: My mother and I in front of our station Wagon. 

Right: My older brother, Ross, and I in our tent. Ross left shortly after this picture was taken to "go find a bear".

From the vast northern forests to the towering mountain ranges of the Rockies and Coastal ranges to the expansive prairies; I have always been awed by the visual impact of the natural world. 

Moving to New York City with my family as a young kid at the age of 8 had a huge impact on my life. Growing up in Greenwich Village with its diversity of people, cultures, food, art, architecture was an amazing experience. Over the next thirty years I developed an appreciation of urban spaces, in addition to the natural spaces I have always loved. I don't live in New York anymore, but periodically go back to visit and record some of my favorite places, often with a new perspective after being gone for awhile.

In my twenties, while living and working in New York, I began going solo backpacking into wilderness areas, often for weeks at a time. Out there, you were on your own, long before the days of satellite phones or GPS. 

       

     Jackass Pass, Wind River Range

Kolob Canyon region, Utah        

Those experiences deepened my love of and respect for the natural world. I was taking a camera with me on every trip, although with little idea of how to capture the stories I wanted to tell with it.  I learned that  it takes practice and experience to do that.  

Fast forward a decade: I met and married my soul mate, and we had two children. 

         

Maureen was not initially at home in the outdoors, but she quickly took to it and grew to love hiking and exploring wild places. We have always shared a love of traveling, and specifically, road trips; meeting new people and exploring small towns and discovering different ways of life.  One of the first places we explored together before we were married was Sanibel Island on the gulf coast of Florida. We have returned many times, and you'll see the influences of Sanibel in my work on this website.






About twenty years ago we were drawn to the Gulf Islands region of Canada by family ties. Nestled between the western coast of the Canadian mainland and the eastern coast of Vancouver Island, it is a magically beautiful place - actually a collection of very unique places. Over the years we acquired a cabin on one of the small islands in the chain, and established a homestead there. We have also explored the wild Pacific Ocean beaches on the west coast of Vancouver island, and visit the little pacific coast town of Tofino often. 


During that time I began a new career teaching high school Physics and Astronomy. With half the summers free (after summer-school duties), we would sometimes drive across the continent, exploring as we went. 


In 2013 I almost lost my wife to cancer. A saying she had repeated to me many times in the past suddenly resonated: "Tomorrow is promised to no one."  That was the end of summer school, and the beginning of our extended explorations every summer.  We've found so many wonderful places to explore out west in Wyoming, Idaho, Montana, Utah, Washington State and British Columbia. I've captured some of my favorite images in those places, and on the roads less traveled in the small towns and waypoints in between.  We love tent camping in one of our favorite parks: Grand Teton National Park, and this past summer we bought a travel trailer to extend our seasonal camping range.  It's a special Western Edition with extra insulation, super-size fresh water tanks, and Solar Power so we can go for extended periods with no electric or water hookups. We have an exciting trip planned this summer, exploring with our new home base on the road!  In the next year or two, after I retire from teaching, we'll expand our travels and I'll devote full time to finding more stories to tell with my camera.

The images I share on these pages reflect all of the influences above; natural places, big cities and small towns. Each space and instant in time with its own story to tell, if you stop to listen. I hope you find some stories here that speak to you. I'd love to hear your thoughts on them, and share mine with you.


My art business has been designated as a "Trusted Art Seller" with The Art Storefronts Organization, which means you can shop with confidence, and know that I stand behind the quality and value of my products.



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