Instructor Spotlight: Dave Showalter

Dave Showalter is a conservation photographer focused on the American West, iLCP Senior Fellow, a contributor to Platte Basin Timelapse for more than a decade, and has published two books with another nearing completion – Living River by Braided River spring of ’23, Sage Spirit (Braided River ’15), Prairie Thunder (Skyline ’07). Through this work, he wants people to see themselves as part of nature, to care and know that we too are members of the animal kingdom.

In January Dave will be teaching the Summit Online Workshop, Shoot for a Cause, with Amy Gulick. Keep reading to learn a bit more about Dave and his work! 

Q: How long have you been a professional photographer? Is this always what you have done?

I’ve been full-time for 14 years, and a photographer for 30 years. I’m a corporate refugee, with a 23 year corporate career in industrial sales prior to photography. I published my first book, Prairie Thunder while still working the corporate gig.

Q: How did you get your start? What was it like becoming a professional?

It’s hard to pinpoint a start, and my journey is more of a progression which began with a lot of prairie and mountain exploration, eventually making connections throughout the west. It feels like a long conversation with land and water, and with the people of this landscape to understand how it all flows together. I went full-time with a lot of support from my wife Marla, and at a time when I felt compelled to go deeper into western conservation stories. I spent the next six years working on the Sage Spirit book project and had no idea how hard it would be; nor how gratifying. But, I don’t do this work alone, and collaborating with dedicated folks across the west is certainly rewarding and keeps me going.

I’m a generalist, with a defined geography of the American West – it’s complicated, and certainly decades of roaming the mountains, lekking birds and river work with Platte Basin Timelapse has informed a lot of my journey.

Q: What have you been working on lately?

I’ve been developing a story and book about the Colorado River with publisher Braided River for going on seven years. The book, titled “Living River” is almost done and tells a story of vibrant life wherever rivers flow, river keepers doing remarkable conservation work, Indigenous life, perspectives and challenges to clean water access, of hope in the face of climate change dramatically shifting our water security. Our relationship to water and rivers must change if we’re to have healthy rivers, feed the nation, and have water for 40 million people. Go to the river – we need to know and love our western rivers.


Q: Any anticipations or thoughts about the upcoming Summit workshop? What are you most excited about?

I’m always excited to work with Amy and see students develop strong story ideas. We’ve been very fortunate to have such high quality creative people in this class.
Q: When you are not taking photos, where can you be found? What do you like to do outside of photography?
Riding bicycles, jamming out to live music, eating good food, and to “just be” in nature.
Q: What would advice would you give to someone trying to get into photography?
It’s your journey: tell stories, follow your heart, be authentic, ethical, and do good work. Trust yourself and your ideas, take folks along on your journey through story.
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