February Photo of the Month: Shades of Emotion at Ruby Beach

Photo © Riley Rhodes

Photo and writing by Riley Rhodes

One of my favorite things is when my dad and I just get in the car with no particular location in mind and spend the whole day taking pictures around Washington and Oregon. I took this photograph on a warm August evening at Ruby Beach, which is located on the coast in Olympic National Park. My dad, my brother and I all woke up at 4 a.m. and got ready for the four-hour drive that we had ahead of us.

When we finally got to Olympic National Park, our first stop was Lake Quinault — if you have never had the opportunity to visit Lake Quinault, or any of Olympic National Park for that matter, then you should definitely plan a trip because it’s absolutely beautiful. After exploring the Hoh Rainforest and several other beautiful parts of the park, we only had one stop left: Ruby Beach. We got to Ruby Beach at about 6 p.m. — by this time, the lighting was absolutely gorgeous. The way the lighting hit Abbey Island gave it a natural gradient filter, which really made this picture stand out from the rest of my pictures I took that day.

My dad inspired me to pursue photography — he has been taking pictures for as long as I can remember. In fact, on my 15th birthday, he bought me my first camera. Even though this camera wasn’t a top-of-the-line camera, it was enough to tell my stories.

I am greatly inspired by emotion — my editing and composition all changes depending on the weather, lighting or just the emotion that the subject makes me feel. I think the best photos are those that can tell a story and give the viewer a feeling of wanting to know more and give him or her a sense of wonder.

When I first started photography, I never knew what to photograph because I only looked for the things that stood out to me instead of looking for the things that are often overlooked and under-appreciated by the average person. I now encourage myself to think outside the box — I am inspired to find something different, something beautiful.

Photography has pushed me out of my comfort zone when it comes to my social anxiety. It forced me to go out and meet new people and make new friends. Having something that I’m good at made me feel confident in myself — when I’m taking pictures, I don’t feel like I have to impress anyone. What matter is that I’m happy with the art that I am creating.

Riley Rhodes is a 19-year-old photographer based in Washington state, focusing on Landscape, and nature photography. Follow him on Instagram.