Hunter Gorham never dreamed of a career in the arts. While pursuing his undergraduate and masters degrees at institutions of repute, he envisioned a life in New York City. His studies focused on finance, technology and business.
But life had different plans.
In a quest to commit to memory his adventures gallivanting to exotic destinations around the world, he invested in a camera and began learning the art and science of photography.
As the artist prepares to open his Montrose gallery for his exhibition Paradise Found: Cuba Unveiled + Beauty from Around the World on Aug 11 — a show which amasses images from Cuba, Ibiza, Mallorca, Formentera, Malta Guatemala, Figure Eight Island, Aspen and Santa Fe — he opened up about the back story of his works in this audio photo essay.
Click on the audio player below the text and photograph to listen to Gorham talk about his travels, trails and tribulations. His anecdotes enliven the stunning landscapes.
Finding physical and emotional serenity is a rare occasion in this day and age. Our tendency may be to tweak, to change and to adjust in our quest for a few brief moments of stillness. But in the effort to find peace, anxiety can set in.
"Everything was just right," he thought. Hence the title of the photograph.
Everything's Just Right, Ses Salines, Formentera
Unlike Rome, not all roads lead to paradise. Though we may try to sketch out a route to find beauty, sometimes it's best to let intuition guide the way.
To find this secluded beach in Cala S'Amonia, Mallorca, the largest of Ibiza's four Islands, Gorham drove through many back roads and dirt pathways until his senses told him to stop, hike and enjoy.
Better yet, no one was around — he had this pristine scene all to himself.
Stepping into Fantasy, Cala S'Amonia, Mallorca.
"I feel like beauty reserves herself for those who just get out and walk the land and explore it," Gorham says of his adventure finding this hidden gem in Platja des Trenc in Mallorca.
The island may have many beautiful spots, but finding them isn't always easy every time. A pit stop for food and water ended up here, a rare sandy beach where rock formations — not people — reign supreme.
The celeste-colored boat rests in contrast to the active waters and provides unity between the photograph's two partitions. The bottom edge of the vessel point to the waters, teasing the viewer to take a long, refreshing swim.
Simple Happy Perfect, Platja des Trenc, Mallorca.
Every time Gorham travels to Ibiza, Cap Martinet is the first beach he visits. The sounds and colors — the blues, emeralds and turquoise against the auburn and copper — serve as an anchor that changes his paradigm, something he needs to do to aesthetically absorb the delicate landscape.
He's been here many times before. He takes a motorcycle through back roads followed by a steep hike down to the sand.
Consider the size of this peninsula against the vast waters, can you appreciate the scale of this image?
To celebrate this find, Gorham thinks there's nothing better to do than to cliff dive into the waters after a successful shoot. Wouldn't you do the same?
Bold Brilliant Majestic, Cap Martinet, Ibiza
Gorham makes no apologies for being addicted to the Mediterranean waters, especially those around the four islands that make up Ibiza. In the ocean's clarity is where he finds a metaphor for a state of being that's as lucid as the sea bed appears from this beach in Cap Martinet.
The sun sets much later here, he says. As such, the problem in capturing an image is waiting for the perfect light to honor the delicate water table and the foundation that supports it.
The emerald hues radiate. Who wouldn't be addicted to that?
Addicted to Emerald, Cap Martinet, Ibiza.
It's the crystal clear quality of these waters that play a trompe l'oeil with our perception. Are the boats on water? Or are they suspended mid air?
When narrow waterways cut into the rocky cliffs, the space created acts as a sanctuary for many of the local boatmen. In this particular grotto he found fishermen-cum-artists who live off the land and the ocean, who take pride in their colorful boats and who carry paint just so they can keep the colors of their vessels vibrant, impeccable and beautiful.
Floating Blue Grotto, Malta
Would you believe that a tarantula prompted Gorham to find this unusually neon green lake?
After a troublesome shoot in the Guatemalan jungle, he needed to find his center. This small island of Flores wasn't in his itinerary, but after chewing the fat with the locals, he headed for this beach in Lago Peten Itza.
The colors are surreal; the composition places the viewer on the boat. Can you imagine what's beyond the picture frame?
He sure makes us wonder with how the boat is placed in the composition.
Yes, we all wish we were there.
Wish You Were Here, Flores Island, Lago Peten Itza, Guatemala
In Flores, boating is a popular. It's how the locals get around. They don't see their boats as objects, rather, the wood canoe-shaped vessels are an opportunity to display their personalities.
Using a vibrant combinations of pastels and effervescent hues, the boats pop atop the green waters in which they rest.
Gorham had to wait a long time for the perfect moment when all these boats converged.
Our Getaway Vessels, Flores Island, Lago Peten Itza, Guatemala
When Gorham was walking around the perimeter of the island of Flores, the bright colors of this restaurant's entrance caught his eye.
The festive nature of the bright, fire engine red doors against the celeste walls was striking — and just what he felt about the zestful personalities of the locals.
After capturing this simple image, he sampled the eatery's culinary offerings. He reports the produce, particularly the fruit, was exquisite.
Dreaming Las Brisas, Flores Island, Lago Peten Itza, Guatemala.
When we see images such as this one, we assume they are from far away exotic lands. But that's not the case here.
Swelling with Neon was captured in Wrightsville Beach, N.C.
The photograph is underexposed, a technique that darkens the architectural elements of the pier and beams. It brings out the reds, pinks, lavenders and hints of violet.
Swelling with Neon, Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina
The southern-most tip of Figure Eight Island in North Carolina holds special meaning for Gorham; it's where he first learned how to capture skies and sunsets. He returns here often.
It was sunset, the moon was out in its full glory, the tide was high, but the waters were calm, motionless.
After waiting 30 seconds for this image to render, the water appeared as a reflective shield while the sky is painterly, soft and cottony.
Glassed-in Sky, Figure 8 island, North Carolina
It was freezing and as such, the skies were blue beyond imagination, almost painting deep hues atop the snow-capped rough mountain terrain.
One of Gorham's favorite characteristics about New Mexico is this iconic blue sky. He finds himself here often, staying with a friend who owns a cabin in the area.
Halo over Pueblo nods to how the clouds interact with the topography and how the intense azure casts its influence over the landscape.
Halo over Pueblo, Pecos, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Pink is the first color to emerge from the mountains of Santa Fe at sunrise, Gorham says.
To capture We Soar The Sky, Gorham used a film panoramic camera. The moving parts of the camera froze because of extreme temperatures; he only had one opportunity to capture the scene, and he would have to wait two weeks before he would learn whether his efforts were successful or not.
They were; don't you agree?
We Soar The Sky, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Many photographers have captured the sweeping lines of Aspen's Maroon Bells. In the summer, the mountains take on the color their name implies. The rocky peaks are accompanied by a receding tree line.
This photograph was capture just as inclement weather had cleared. Maroon Bells was dusted with fresh snow, just like powder. In Gorham's close-up, he wanted to explore the grandeur of just one formation.
He saw confidence, stature, importance, boldness.
In the midst of his activities, he lost his truck keys. He was alone. Listen to how Gorham found his way home.
Face of Kings, Maroon Bells, Aspen, Colorado
Red and green chilies are among Gorham's favorite foods. They are one of the things he misses most about no longer living in New Mexico.
When he was driving from Santa Fe to Taos, he came across a local merchant selling chilies. He had to stop. The vendor was from Hatch, where the notable chili of the same name is grown.
To get Chilis the Fuego, Gorham laid on the ground to find a sharp contrast between the deep reds and the cobalt blues.
Chilis De Fuego, Hernandez, New Mexico
Meet the artist himself.
Hunter Gorham, a self-taught and curious photographer who's path in life led him first to Emory University, where he studied finance and technology, and Rice University, where he completed an MBA.
Though his intention was to move to New York City, his travels altered his journey when he found his passion in capturing the landscapes that took his breath away. The world became his classroom; pristine vistas became his addiction.