Meet Photographer Carl Young
Carl Young (@ridingwithcarl) is a photographer, astronomer, music lover, book lover, convertible driver, dirt road explorer, high latitude wanderer, Big Sky addict, friend of Everett Ruess.
Interviewer Mark Gelband (@markgelband) is Ello’s Chief Marketing Officer, an expert in container home construction, a long-time writer, and a local everywhere he goes.
Mark: Like many people on Ello, you seem to mix your passion for photography and the ways that passion can impact the ideals, values, people and projects you know can make a better world. Can you elaborate on that notion?
Carl: When you take the skills that you possess and channel them into something that matters to you, it's very easy to make a positive contribution to the world. You can do this through artistic expression, you can do it through volunteer work, charity work or activism. You can act alone or you can get involved with a group of people who share your passion. The great thing is, you may be surprised at how something you've done can inspire others to get involved or to create something of their own. And you may be surprised at how the work of others can affect you and steer you in directions you had never considered. I've experienced this myself, on Ello and elsewhere.
Create something. Do something. Take what you know and love and run with it. Whether it's something profound or something simple, it all adds up, it all helps make life more enjoyable.
For a perfect example of using your passion to bring people together, look at what Jeff Lee and Ann Marie Martin are doing with their love of books and conservation at a historic ranch in the thin air of central Colorado.
Mark: Tell me more specifically how you became aware of the Rocky Mountain Land Library project and your connection.
Carl: Ello led me there. I began following two Colorado-based photographers, Jay Halsey (@jayhalsey) and his friend Sarah McLaughlin (@katatonic), shortly after I joined Ello. We share a love for photographing the beautiful wide-open spaces in the middle of the continent. In April of 2015, Sarah posted a link to a New York Times article about the Rocky Mountain Land Library. Once I read that story, I was hooked. I drove to Colorado that September to meet Jay and Sarah, and I took the opportunity to meet with Jeff Lee in Denver. With his blessing, I made my first visit to the Buffalo Peaks Ranch in South Park. Spending the day wandering the ranch with my camera was a glorious experience. It is a beautiful and remarkable place which will one day be home to many thousands of books, there to be enjoyed by visiting students, artists and people who simply love nature and love to read.
I am not an official representative of the Land Library...merely a big fan and supporter of the project. The RMLL, as a nonprofit entity, relies on volunteer work and donations to bring the vision of this library to completion. They are currently running a Kickstarter campaign (through April 7) to raise funds for the next phase of building rehabilitation. I find it encouraging that people of all ages and backgrounds, and from all corners of the globe, have formed a connection to this project and are expressing their enthusiasm and support for the library.
Mark: Why is this project meaningful to you personally?
Carl: There is much about the Rocky Mountain Land Library that appeals to me deeply. I have a great love of books, especially old books about exploration and life in the American West back in the 19th century. As for the ranch itself, so many of the things that I look for and cherish when I'm traveling the back roads of North America can be found in this location. There is true darkness, allowing one to enjoy the spectacle of the night sky. There is the vast, beautiful, natural space around the ranch, with a view unspoiled by the sprawl of modern development. There is silence, which includes the sound of the wind and the singing of coyotes. There is room to roam and there are places to sit and just soak it all in.
I'm also drawn to the conservation aspects of this enterprise...the preservation of this enormous collection of books, the rehabilitation of the historic Buffalo Peaks Ranch, and the conservation of the surrounding grasslands where the headwaters of the South Platte River flow. In a recent interview recorded by Mountain & Prairie, Jeff Lee talks about these facets of conservation and also sheds light on the history of this ranch, the genesis of the Land Library and the resources that the RMLL will ultimately offer its visitors.
This past October, Jay, Sarah and I spent three days at the ranch taking pictures, both for our own enjoyment and for the RMLL to use for promotional purposes. We had so much fun exploring this fascinating property; it's a photographer's paradise, and we've been delighted with the feedback our photos have generated in the Elloverse. I hope those who are reading this will take time to listen to the interview, watch the fundraising video, read the articles and enjoy the photos of the ranch. I'm sure many of you will discover something about the Land Library that appeals to you. When that happens, please find a way to become involved.
Mark: I love Ello because of the values, art and people. Your photos of RMLL brought my attention to this meaningful project. Will you talk a little about the Ello community and the importance of the intersection of values, art and people?
Carl: Ello felt very different to me right from the start, in a positive way. Other social media platforms had grown tiresome; they were filled with uninspiring content and visiting those sites had become a depressing chore rather than something to enjoy. I've left those places behind and I don't miss them at all. Ello, as a network of creators, continues to impress me...not only with the volume of original content being presented, but also with the quality of that content. Two and a half years into this, I still look forward to my time on Ello each day.
There truly is more of a social aspect within Ello compared to what I've experienced elsewhere. Engagement here is easy. I'm learning a lot about the people I follow, about their outlook on the world and about the things that matter to them. And I'm discovering places, activities and techniques that are new and exciting to me. I've also rediscovered an old love: 35mm film. Seeing the work of so many skilled and creative analog photographers on Ello has inspired me pick up my film cameras again. A decade or more of shooting nothing but digital images has left me with some bad habits. Now that I am favoring film over digital, my passion for photography is stronger. And the quality of the images I see here drives me to achieve better results with my own photos. Though I've been shooting for 41 years, there are always things to learn and ways to improve.
One of the most rewarding benefits of spending time on Ello has been the development of friendships. I have online relationships with Ellovians from many countries, as well as face-to-face friendships with people closer to home. The next time I travel across the sea, I look forward to meeting even more friends in person. Collaboration is another component of Ello that I am embracing. Most of my creative output over the years has been a solo effort, so collaboration is relatively new to me, but I am enjoying the process and I look forward to working with more creators down the road. I am currently collaborating on a film project with Walter von Aachen (@walter_ac); I hope we'll be sharing those images with you in April.
Ello has certainly allowed me to become more involved with the world, both online and beyond these four walls.