The year was 1999 and it was the dawn of the new millennium and a the beginnings of a huge change for the photography world. It was, also the year that I received my first digital camera for Christmas. The camera was less than one megapixel, but it had more than enough to pique my in interest in photography.
Soon I began scouring my own backyard discovering wonders that even as a native Southern Illinoisan had remained hidden, because of my “nature blindness” and other interests.
The first time I climbed up the 200-foot chunk of limestone called Inspiration Point in the LaRue Pine Hills my heart dropped and I knew I had become a nature addict.
Names like Devils Standtable, Camel Rock, and Sand Cave slowly filtered into my vocabulary as my love of hiking and photography increased.
That love would soon become the basis for my first website, called Shawnee Hills Outdoors in 2010, that focused on Southern Illinois. In the beginning I wrote to an audience of one (myself), but as the years clicked away an audience soon emerged.
In 2012, I was amazed that someone from Chicago’s WGN called wanting to do a story on the Little Grand Canyon and they wanted me to show them around. I was humbled and grateful that someone took and interest in my passion.
In 2017, I merged all my websites into Shawnee Hills Outdoors, with the primary purpose of highlighting other beautiful areas, such as the Missouri Ozarks and the Smoky Mountains. I once, again began writing to a smaller audience trying to find voice in the grand space of the internet.
It is my mission to bring back from travels and exploration beautiful and engaging photos that make others want to explore them for themselves. I, also, want to share the process of how to create a vision that lets you share the way you see the world with others.
– Gary Marks