Photographer Spotlight Ed Cooley

 In News, Photographer Spotlight

Meet Ed Cooley

Ed was born in Toledo, Ohio and moved to the midwest at the age of 16. He married his high-school sweetheart, Faith, in 1979 a year after their graduation. They have two married children and four wonderful grand-children that often travel with them. Ed ended up in Northwest Arkansas after completing a long-term consulting assignment at J.B. Hunt Transport, designing onboard computer systems in the late eighties. By trade he is a self-taught, software engineer and owns a software company that automates trucking and freight logistics companies.

A Few Fun Facts About Ed

  • Ed and Faith are both private pilots and at one time owned three airplanes
  • Ed said it may seems strange for a photographer, but he is partially color blind
  • Ed never went to college but taught embedded systems to graduate students at SW Missouri State

Ed, diving right into what I call the million dollar question, why photography? What launched your passion?

After years without a vacation running our software company Faith and I stumbled into a Thomas Mangelsen gallery in Kansas City. We had never seen such beautiful scenery and decided to visit some of the national parks he had photographed. I purchased a digital rebel and was bit by the photography bug.

That was in 2005 and in 2008 I purchased my first medium format system from Capture Integration. In October of 2009 I had a major accident when a cliff I was standing on collapsed dropping me 25 or 30 feet at the base of a waterfall. A tree that had fallen with me pinned me in water to my waist. Fortunately Faith had purchased a locator beacon as a gift and it saved my life. After 8 hours I was rescued and 6 months later I was back on my feet hiking and taking photographs.

The accident changed my perspective and all I really wanted was to pursue my passion for photography. I still own the software company but haven’t written a line of code since my accident. I supposed you could say a near death experience launched my photography career.

You are managing a corporation and a gallery at the same time. How do you find the time to shoot?

This one is simple: photography comes first. It seems a week after I return home from a photography trip, I’m already itching to get back out there. I was fortunate to have good employees who have been with me for decades that ran the software company without a hitch during my recovery. That gave me the freedom to pursue what I really wanted which was to photograph beautiful places all over the world. Since I started shooting full time I have been to every continent and dozens of countries.

As a gallery owner, what are your biggest challenges and what was your biggest surprise that you didn’t expect?

Dealing with sales personnel is without a doubt the most difficult challenge running a gallery. I’m so passionate about my work that I expect everyone else to feel the same which is totally unrealistic. I want to be out shooting, not managing sales people! Fortunately, my collectors almost always acquire multiple pieces which fills in a lot of gaps on the business side.

My biggest surprise was that it’s not about the work. Collectors want to collect an individual. As an artist, I am the brand and it took some time for me to adjust to that. I’m basically an introvert and forcing myself to become “THE” brand was not easy for me. I have to present a compelling story behind my work or people will not be interested. If someone wants an “Ed Cooley”, they will usually be able to find something they like. I believe my passion for the work filters through to the viewer even if they don’t quite understand why. I’m selling an emotion whether it’s a peaceful feeling, awesome wonder or perhaps contemplative moment.

Out of the wide variety of lenses on the market, what’s your favorite one to use?

My favorite lens would be the Phase One/Schneider 40-80mm. It produces incredible clarity across it’s focal length which holds up to large prints like a prime lens. It covers the natural field of view through a moderate wide angle which is how I see the world.

Lighting plays a major role in telling the story of your image. What are your favorite lighting techniques to tell your story?

I’m primarily a scenic photographer working outdoors. I shoot almost entirely in natural light but my favorite lighting has got to be oblique side lighting early or late in the day. I get interesting shadows and beautiful rim lighting that adds depth when captured well.

In which ways do you see your work evolving in the next 5 – 10 years from now?

As my photographic vision evolves I see a much more artistic and controlled methodology forming. I am just scratching the surface of using different techniques to accentuate the light in ways I have not considered in the past. I’m doing more blending of exposures using what I would describe as painting techniques to bring out texture, depth and quality of light in my subjects.

If you could have given yourself any advice when you first launched your career in photography, what would it be?

Don’t be afraid to express your vision regardless of what others might say. The people who really matter want to see what I have to say and getting comfortable with that has opened the door on my creativity.

What was special about Capture Integration that made you choose us as a partner?

As a self-taught photographer, I needed a partner that would support me for the long haul. Dave and Capture Integration has always been honest, fair and supportive from the very beginning. They have kept my best interest at the forefront of our relationship and it has served me so well. I trust Capture Integration which leaves me free to focus on my work without having to worry if my equipment will support my artistic vision.

Connect With Ed


Instagram: @edcooleyfineartphotgraphy

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