What freelance photographer Ray Gehman remembers most about growing up is always being outside; wandering through the woods, lost in the leaves; lying in the grass, looking up; or sitting in a tree, looking down.
During his early years in school, his eyes were glued to the windows daydreaming about being outside. One day, in fourth grade, the curtains on the windows were drawn, and Gehman saw his first slide show. It was about the Arctic, and it was presented by a visiting National Geographic photographer. Gehman was nine years old, and the seed was sown.
"I was mesmerized," he says. "Not just by the images, but also by the idea that this guy's job was outside and in strange, faraway places. And then as I walked home after school, it clicked that this rugged, bearded photographer worked for the same outfit as that yellow magazine that was always on my parents' coffee table."
Another nine years passed before he would press the shutter button of a camera. On his 18th birthday, he got a Polaroid camera. From the first click and whir, he was hooked. "It was one of the most natural feelings I'd ever had," he says.
Another nine years passed, and then Gehman, fresh out of journalism school, walked into National Geographic for a summer photo-internship.
Gehman can still be found wandering forests and fields, drawn by natural golden light as it eloquently etches the shape of the landscape. His passion is photographing this radiant light as it illuminates and energizes the natural world. He photographs scenes that could be from this year or a thousand years in the past—or a thousand years in the future.