Chris Mabey on National Parks and Why They're Worth Saving

Chris Mabey is a nature photographer based in Utah. He has developed a deep passion for photographing the national parks. Chris' photography project "The Best Idea We Ever Had" just launched on Kickstarter. The project is about telling the story of how budget cuts are affecting the parks and showing the beautiful scenery and wildlife that make the parks worth protecting for future generations.

When did you get started with photography?
I got my first camera when I was 17, and my love of photography has grown since then. Now it is what I'm passionate about, and I want to share my love of nature and the national parks through my photography.

Why is it important?
I don't think the world is really getting to see this story. In the past few weeks I have been reading a lot of articles about how the parks are being affected by sequestration, but I don't see a lot of images telling the story. I saw a photo last week from Wind Cave National Park showing that they are closing the only campground in the park because of budget cuts. This hit me a lot harder than any of the articles I've read.

This story needs to be told with images to bring to light the reality of the state of our national parks.

What sets your project apart?
To my knowledge, there are no projects setting out to tell the story of how budget cuts are affecting the parks with pictures. Bringing together pictures of the beautiful scenery and wildlife of the parks with images of how the parks are being hurt by cuts will highlight the need for supporting the National Parks Service.

I will also be writing an e-book about getting better pictures in the parks. For every park I visit, I will be outlining some great photo spots and will take you step by step through how I created my images there.

Do you have any tips for getting better images in the national parks?
1. Get to your shot locations early. Landscape and nature photographers are used to getting to locations before dawn, but when you are shooting iconic locations in the parks you need to get there before other photographers if you want the prime spots.

2. Own the shot. There are so many images of the parks out there. When you are shooting in the parks, make each shot your own. Bring your own style into it.

3. Make sure you have enough memory cards and batteries. Nothing is worse than running out of space on all your cards or having all your batteries dead. I usually camp when I visit the parks, so I make sure I have enough cards and batteries to last the trip.

What is your favorite national park?
Grand Teton. Last summer I fell in love with those mountains, and my shot of the Snake River Overlook is still my favorite shot I've taken.

Learn More at the Project's Kickstarter!