Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski, Ensign Peak Nature Park, Salt Lake City, Utah.

Portrait : a painting, drawing, photograph, or engraving of a person, especially one depicting only the face or head and shoulders.

“Louis, you shoot portraits?” It was late October and I was looking for an assistant to help with an upcoming editorial portrait shoot. My prospective candidate – a talented portrait and wedding photographer – was serious when he asked me the above question. In fact, it’s not the first time someone has been surprised that I photograph things other than adventure/action sequences.

Dan Chace for Barron’s Magazine.

Barron’s Magazine, November 27, 2017. Photos.

After receiving the request to create an environmental portrait of Daniel Chace I paid a visit to his office. I scoped different spots  then noted what lighting equipment would be necessary. Next I visited the Bonneville Shoreline Trail located only two blocks from the office and scouted the possibilities. The direction given was to focus on an outside look, but if weather forced us inside the office would be our back up.
The day arrived with cloud covered skies, but no precipitation. Just to be safe we set up a lighting rig in a conference room before meeting Dan and heading up to the trail.
Once outside we spoke about children, skiing, running, investing and how life has a way of unfolding. We shot on the trail and near the Museum of Natural History then returned to the office with time to spare. So we shot there too. 

McKenna Peterson for Backcountry Magazine.

Backcountry Magazine, December 2017. Photos and Words.

McKenna Peterson had been in my thoughts  frequently this past summer. She was in the middle of her first season skippering a fishing boat off the Alaska coast when I reached out. I was hoping she could share some insights on fishing, backcountry skiing, being an professional athlete, her family and the lose of her father to an avalanche. Luckily, she said yes and the result is a piece titled, “Eyes Wide Open.”

Luke His for Backcountry Magazine.

Backcountry Magazine, November 2017. Photos.

Local writer Erme Catino reached out last ski season to see if I could help create photos for his piece on Luke Hinz’s attempt to ski all the lines listed in the Wasatch’s steep skiing guide, “The Chuting Gallery”. Luke was trying to tick all of them in one season while raising funds and awareness for local nonprofits. We caught up to Luke one cloudy morning in April as he hiked and skied the runs on Mount Baldy. 

Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski, Ensign Peak Nature Park, Salt Lake City, Utah.

Outside, December 18, 2017. Photos.

In response to the question, “Louis, you shoot portraits?”, I chuckled then shared the details of the shoot.
We met Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski at a nature park that set the city skyline as the background. For forty minutes we chatted with the mayor and snapped away… You can see the article by Jimmy Tobias here.

March 23, 2015

Morning above the San Rafael River, Utah.
Morning above the San Rafael River, Utah.

I slept in this Sunday morning. By the time I heard Chip roll out of the back of his car everything was illuminated. Unzipping the tent I saw the sky was glowing pink. I dressed quickly then grabbed the camera and tripod. The shutter snapped as Chip walked down toward the San Rafael River and the color in the sky faded.

Window Blind Peak and Assembly Hall held court above the grey and meandering creek bottom. Thin clouds had moved in over night holding on to some of Saturday’s heat. It felt relatively warm for March. Soon water was boiled and coffee was brewed…


“Truth is a point of view, but authenticity can’t be faked.” Peter Guber.

I have always wanted to share stories. In school I chose journalism as my focus, but the idea of becoming a copy editor at the local paper was unappealing so I embraced blue-collar work and played as hard as I could.

For ten years I bumped along occasionally having a story or essay published, but mainly just struggled to find my voice. During this time I would consume periodicals and throw them to the recycling bin in disappointment. While there were a few writers and magazines that totally blew me away the majority of what was read felt disingenuous. I craved and still crave things that are genuine. Anything that resonates or connects with me is a winner. We could all use more honesty in our lives.

I totally agree with the quote above. Although my work fluctuates at times in its truth the pursuit of the authentic is what motivates me to continually improve my writing and photography.

Setting sail in the North Sea onboard the Anne Margaretha.
Setting sail in the North Sea onboard the Anne Margaretha.

New Beginnings.

larevalo_kjconnors_1014_0002-2Portraits are one of my favorite things to create and are some of the most challenging.

I received an email at the beginning of the month that some friends had just welcomed the first child into the world. “Could I make some portraits?”larevalo_kjconnors_1014_0004-2

Absolutely! was my immediate response then my palms began to sweat. larevalo_kjconnors_1014_0009-2

Second only to weddings photographing a newborn is something I consider to be very serious.

Driving to meet the family my typical nausea kicked in… Somehow I managed to hold it together long enough to make a few images.larevalo_kjconnors_1014_0019-2larevalo_kjconnors_1014_0007


I’ve been out of the country for three weeks, two of which were spent sailing from Holland to Portugal on the Anne Margaretha. I am not sure what I expected from the voyage, but what it was was something completely new to me.larevalo_sail3_0914_0051

Gone but not forgotten.

Visited family in the Uintah Basin for the holiday. I was surprised by the wave of emotions. Here’s a excerpt from my journal.

July 5th, 2014

Sunrise over Strawberry Canyon, Utah.
Sunrise over Strawberry Canyon, Utah.


The burnt aroma of sage mixed with the musky-sweet of the cottonwoods fills my chest. The summer’s morning light casts fading shadows along cliffs of gray sandstone. Fields of sweet grass and alfalfa wink droplets of dew. Irrigating sprinklers tisk in rotation. Stands of tamarisk shield the meandering path of the stream. I bend and touch the warming earth, letting the breath escape my lungs. “Hello Earth.” A tiger stripped mosquito flaps its wings near my ear. “Hello family.” There is no wind to cut the coming heat. Memories pulse through my battered soul… the sticky affection of family and the longing to feel her love. Above clouds spread thin and useless against a pale sky. I press my hand firmly to the ground searching for a pulse.

Strawberry Canyon, Utah.
Strawberry Canyon, Utah.

“Hello Mother… I’ve missed you.”

Turn Community Services


Two weeks ago I received an email from Kesha. Could I come to her place of work and shoot portraits for an hour? Kesha works at the Provo Turn Community Service Center that offers day programs for adults with mental and physical disabilities. She informed me that the following week they would be teaching photography and thought it would be awesome if I could make photos of the participants before the classes. They would then use the images as examples and the class would have the added benefit of seeing the process of shooting photographs. I was immediately in, but at the same time I was nervous. This was not something I wanted to fumble.


Monday morning Kesha led me into an empty classroom and laid out the plan. She would bring each subject in to be shot solo then, after everyone was done, we would shoot the group as a whole.  “Okay, I’ll get the first person.” I swallowed the lump in my throat and went to work. Talking, joking, laughing and a little chasing ensued.


I could go on about the shoot, but want to keep it simple. My nerves were quickly put at ease by the awesome staff at Turn and how great every person I met was. Portraiture can be difficult especially when the subject puts on a front; the canned smile, the faked stoicism, the whatever. This day was unique in that everyone who came in front of the camera was completely genuine from the get go. I wish it were always this easy. You may see the rest of the photos here.

The group at the Provo Turn Community Center.
The group at the Provo Turn Community Center.

Where can you see the ones you have lost?

Thirteen years ago my dad passed away only days before I married Suzanne.  It was around this time that I asked her father, Mike, to teach me to fish. 

The lessons began slow. Evenings were tying knots and afternoons were hours of casting. Both were done while he explained fly patterns and hatches. He would tell me about different rivers and eventually he took me to them.

Fishing started on the lower Provo River and after what seemed like forever, I began to hold my own. Mike must have thought I was okay because he continued inviting me. On the way to the rivers we’d discuss flies, books, life and politics, but once at the water we were silent. We would stagger in, adjust our balance, then cast and be with our thoughts. It was through this ritual that we became friends and he became a father figure to me.middle provo 2001

One summer day Mike and I fished on the Big Wood River south of Ketchum. The spot where we started had someone fishing every twenty feet or so, but Mike didn’t care. He just snuggled right in and began casting. He preferred to be around people when fishing. Before his first heart attack he might have chosen to be more secluded, but after it he felt safer with a crowd. I, on the other hand, didn’t enjoy being so close.

After an hour I’d seen no trout. I had no nibble, no nose, nothing. Mike had caught one earlier with a dry fly, but now he was nymphing (wet fly fishing). This meant the fishing wasn’t good. I dipped my hat in the water and sat on the bank. Mike swapped nymphs and worked his way up and down. Another hour passed before he joined me.

“It’s too hot… It might improve later when things cool down.” He offered almost as an apology. When we fished new places together he felt a responsibility to make sure I caught something. Sensing his concern I suggested we try a spot down the road which had a short hike through the brush. Mike didn’t like hikes. It was the safety thing.

He shrugged. “Alright, but I think we might be coming back here.”

blacksmithfork2011 019


It was a roaring scream from the bushes behind me. Mike never used that word. He had snagged his rod in a thicket and snapped it right above the joint where the two pieces slide together. I was mortified. I‘d insisted that we hike out here, he had followed reluctantly and now this.

“What do you want to do?” I asked sheepishly. “Do you want to use this rod? I can just hang out… Take some photos.” It was actually his rod. Pretty much all of the gear I used was his, but he wouldn’t have any of it.

“No, no. Let’s see… I can just use what I have. It’ll be alright.”

At the water I gave Mike space and began nymphing using an unbroken rod. Within one or two casts I had a fish on. The fight was short lived as he threw back the hook, but it was a good sign. After spooking all the fish out of the hole I looked upstream. Mike, standing beneath a cluster of cottonwoods, was casting a dry fly. He was using the top half of his broken rod and a bunch of line stuffed in his vest that he worked with his left hand. He was smiling. The casts seemed tight and the trailing fly wobbled, but he managed the landing, presenting the fly softly where he wanted it to go. That afternoon I got skunked while he pulled in fish after fish.

green river 2001 2

The following day we drove south, out of the mountains and into the plains. The subdivisions were replaced by fields of alfalfa and potato. The novelty shops and restaurants were gone leaving cattle and sheep ranches. I was dubious when we pulled off the highway, but as we crossed the bridge I saw the sage brush fall into the marsh, in its place stands of cattails appeared along with a slow moving creek filled with watercress. The scene was idyllic.


silvercreek 002While suiting up we talked to a few guys who were wrapping up their day. When asked what seemed to be working for them they were vague. I took it the fishing was tough. Mike agreed with a knowing glance. As we carried on, one of the guys produced a cutting board filled with cheese, salami and crackers.

“Please, have some.” He offered. Mike declined, saying something about not needing to add anything to his robust gut.

“Ah, you’re not even close to being fat.” He held the board closer.

With a grin Mike responded, “You know people get sent to prison for lying that bad.

blacksmithfork2011 022 

There is something about how the water presses against you when you wade in. It holds you firm, but gently. When you finally climb out you have the tendency to fall forward from leaning against the current for so long. The slow movement of the creek was comforting. I was in up to my stomach for most of it, trying to look small to the fish upstream, but they could see me and my line and weren’t fooled. I saw fish swaying in my wake so close that if they wouldn’t have darted off when I reached down I could have touched them. I dipped my hat several times, not only because I was hot, but in order to absorb the place. We quietly stood in the water while the air cooled and the shadows grew tall. We both caught nothing. That was the best day fishing I’ve ever had.

After the divorce I expected to lose Mike as a friend, but life doesn’t work that way. At first our encounters were awkward, then cordial and eventually friendly again. We continued to exchange books, talk politics and I still sought his advice.

Last June the man who taught me how to fly fish died. Suzanne found his body lying in the backyard. John Michael Harsha did not survive his fourth heart attack. I don’t want to think of that. silvercreek 009


It’s better not to dwell on our disagreements, disappointments and heartache. Instead it’s better for me to think about the peaceful moments, the laughter and shared love. To remember competing with the Ospreys for trout on the Madison or going way out on the Lamar with bison our only company, that’s what I want. Feeling the spring sun on the waters of the Green and the cold days of winter along the Provo will help me recall his energy. Summer nights can find him wading in the magic of Silver Creek and on fall days, when the trees are brilliant, I will see Mike casting quietly, peacefully, on the Blacksmith Fork.




copyright 2010-2011 Louis C Arevalo

You’re up.  Tell me where you see them.