Tim McGuire: Finding inspiration through nature and the outdoors

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Tim McGuire’s journey as a pro photographer has spanned more than 25 years.  Initially starting as a stock shooter, his passion for story telling led him to figuring out what truly makes him happy, namely nature and the great outdoors.  One can’t help but get a rush from seeing his images which always have a sense of adventure and grandeur to them. Let’s find out a bit more from Tim on how he got started and what inspires him to venture outside and capture life as it speeds by!

How I Got Here

I have always been an artist whether I knew it or not. Photography has always been a form of self-expression for me, even when working on a specific project for a client or for stock or just for personal enjoyment. My personal preferences, past experiences, and emotions all have an effect on how I make a picture or in when I release the shutter on my cameras.


It started in junior high school with a instant Polaroid camera called “The Button”. I still have it. There was something magical about it. I loved capturing moments and places.


An old picture of my Dad canoeing on the Colorado river that I took with “The Button.”

In high school I fell in love with the darkroom process and found I had some talent. I loved photographing landscape and nature. I went on to college at Northern Arizona University where I studied photography and graphic arts and then on to freelance assisting other photographers in Phoenix and Seattle for 5 years or so. I worked with over 100 photographers in that time period and learned a lot. I was then hired as a Producer for a stock photography company at the height of the stock business in the mid 1990’s and then went out on my own as strictly a stock shooter in the early 2000’s.

After 9 years of successful stock shooting I unfortunately found my business at a place where I had to make some big changes. The stock photography world had changed drastically. I now take my passions, the great outdoors and an active lifestyle to create commercial and fine art for clients, for stock, and for myself. I will never stop being an artist.

Two quotes I find as especially true.

“Let the beauty of what you love be what you do” – Rumi
“My portraits are more about me than they are about the people I photograph.” – Richard Avedon

How Do You Promote Your Work?
I use social media, targeted email, occasional direct mail, phone calls, portfolio showings, my website, and face-to-face networking. I’m also trying out being a Premium Photographer with ImageBrief.com! As I get older and wiser I have come to find these truths:

  • It’s better to be lucky than good.
  • It not what you know, it’s who you know.
  • Timing is everything.
  • You get what you pay for.

I don’t have any advice beyond that and working hard. Being strictly a stock photographer for so long I am still learning what works and what doesn’t for getting clients.

What’s One Of Your Most Memorable Shoots?
I was doing a series on Human Nature Connections as a personal project when I met this woman, Christie Glissmeyer who responded to one of my calls for people who wanted to share with me how they connect with nature. She wrote this beautiful little description of what she feels and experiences as she runs rivers and rapids in her kayak.

“I’m a kayaker, and I connect with the natural environment through water. I ride the river currents, cascading through deep mossy gorges and dense forests of the Pacific Northwest. I’m immersed in thundering waves, navigating through the chaos of rapids and plunging over falls. My perfect moment is pushing away from shore and floating towards the horizon line of a waterfall. The world falls away it’s just me and the river, tumbling through the mist into a crystal clear pool below.”

We got together along with her boyfriend, Drew (now husband) and I literally ran ahead of them along the banks of a ¾ mile long stretch of a river they wanted to run. We did it twice. I would run ahead as they waited in eddys for me to set up and give them a signal to go. I just love being outside and watching these incredibly skilled people maneuver their kayaks over these drops and make it look so easy. They were very in tune with this part of nature and they used it to connect and interact with the world in a way that got them jazzed and obviously made them happy. As a photographer it’s just cool to see people in their element, being joyful in what they are doing. Having the opportunity to capture it and share in their experience is always a privilege and something memorable. Here are some shots.

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What Inspires You?
I am constantly inspired by nature and the landscapes I see. I’m also inspired and moved by people in their element. When I was a kid I wanted to be Ansel Adams, I loved Richard Avedon’s work, Annie Leibovitz, Gregory Heisler, Elliott Erwitt, James Balog, and painters, Ed Mell, Georgia O’Keefe, and Andrew Wyeth. Those are a few of the famous people. There are other people I see everyday. I see things in nature that we come to take for granted that are amazing when you really look at them. Look at the reflections among the reeds growing along a lakes edge… I think it’s beautiful, amazing, and inspiring.

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What Type Of Gear Do You Use?
I shoot with a couple of Canon EOS Mark II, various Canon lenses (zooms and primes), various stobe lighting when needed, Gitzo Tripods. I like available light and have never owned an on camera flash (ugly light IMHO). I don’t geek out on gear. To me it’s about the pictures not the gear you use to create it. People have been making amazing images for many years with far lesser equipment than I have.

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This is a stock shot from Mount Rainier National Park on the Miur Snowfield. I love it because it is people having fun in a beautiful place. What more do you need? !

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This is one in a series of shots I did for an article on trail running in Seattle, Washington. The runner is the writer.

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This is a shot I did for a musician named Geoffrey Castle. I was inspired by his amazing music and asked him if he’d like to do some portraits. I had this place in mind but wasn’t sure he’d want to hike in there with me but he carried his violin a couple miles in and out and along the muddy trails to this fern garden I wanted to use, leather pants and all. The hikers got a little serenade as they walked through the forest that day.

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This is just a nice illustrative picture of “getting out there”. Not too extreme that most people can’t relate but you can feel the steepness of the rock, the sun on your face, and the approaching and slightly ominous cloud. It makes you want to be there out on a little adventure. This is my wife hiking in Canyonlands National Park, Utah.

You recently got back from a trip to India, any memorable moments to share?
These two photos I made while stuck in traffic in Delhi, India. There was a suspected criminal / terrorist on the loose in Dehli and the police had set up a road block to check all vehicles. It lasted about two hours so to kill the time I started taking pictures out the windows of the car as our driver drove. I especially liked these two photos of kids riding in their school bus.

It was a great trip to India which was first planned as a trip to see a friend get married in Pune, India (I’ve attached a couple photos from the wedding)which then morphed into a longer trip which included a 4 day stop in London (see attached) and then on to the wedding for 5 days in Pune and then a whirlwind trip through Varanasi, Dehli, Agra, Jaipur, Jaisalmer, and Johdpur.




A highlight of the trip was a two night camel trek in the Thar desert near the Pakistani border. That is my wife, Amy and her camel named “Michael Jackson”… or so they told us 🙂


Screen shot 2015-02-23 at 3.55.11 PM Tim is an ImageBrief Premium Photographer. For more of Tim’s work, check out his ImageBrief  profile, website, Behance, Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin.  


Ken Pao is the Director of the Premium Accounts at ImageBrief. As a pro photographer himself, he is thrilled to be working with some amazing ImageBrief Premium Photographers and connecting them with some of the top ad agencies, publishing houses, brands and magazines of the world!


About Ken Pao

Ken Pao is the Director of the Premium Accounts at ImageBrief. As a pro photographer himself, he is thrilled to be working with some amazing ImageBrief Premium Photographers and connecting them with some of the top ad agencies, publishing houses, brands and magazines of the world!