Published April 20, 2018
An artist in the wild
Gary Sparks explores his passions
for photography, landscapes, life
Many of you know Gary Sparks for the brick-and-mortar landmarks his hand helped raise. But did you know this Sparks Reed co-founder also has left his mark as a photographer? This art shares many bedrock traits with architecture – an appreciation for line, shape, form, texture, pattern, lighting, and color. Empowering that with his passion for life and Western tradition gives you the mix of landscapes and lifestyles visible under the “photography” section of garysparksarchitect.com
In February, Gary achieved a decade-old dream: three days spent photographing the northwest wilderness of Yellowstone National Park. Traveling by snowmobile and bus with a small group of associates, Gary came away with breathtaking images from one of America’s most revered winter wonderlands.
“Our first two days there were cloudy, snowy, so cold,” he recalled with a shiver. “It really gave you a feeling of how harsh that environment is for humans or animals to live in. Then that third day the sun came out and it was really beautiful, the sun on the snow and all that. Just beautiful.”
The group spent each night at a central motel. “We were gone all day, come back, turn our equipment in, go to a restaurant and get something to eat, and then crash to get ready for the next morning,” he said. Covering more than 300 miles with his Canon 5D3 and two lenses, Gary said the trip gave his entourage surprising close-ups of bison, elk, and other forest denizens.
“The most exciting thing, from a nature standpoint, was we got to see a pack of wolves, the same pack, at three different locations,” he said. “The third time we hooked up with them, they were bringing down a bison. We watched that for a long time. Most people don’t get to see anything like that up close. We were probably just a couple hundred yards away.”
That third day completed an experience Gary hopes to repeat.
"If you love beautiful scenery and seeing animals in their real environment as opposed to a zoo or something, if you want to see how animals really survive harsh conditions, then you need to go to Yellowstone in the wintertime,” he said. “It’s something I would recommend to everyone. It’s totally different. It is cold. You dress appropriately. But If I can survive it, anybody can.”