You may be asking who the heck is this Josh Cripps dude anyway?? Well, I’m a normal guy who thought he’d spend his adult life as an engineer. But then I fell in love with travel and photography, and I’ve been making it my career ever since. Sometimes I talk like a cowboy, and I can grow a pretty fierce beard when I need to.
I’ll tell you a lot more about me in a little bit (or you can skip ahead here, you scamp). But first, I want to talk about YOU. You’re here for a reason. You love nature, you want to become a better photographer yourself, or maybe you even want to improve your photography business. That’s amazing! I want to help you however I can. The first and best thing you should do is jump on my newsletter. That’s where I send out all my best stuff about making your photography dreams come true. I’m not going to spam you with a bunch of crap, and I’ll never sell your name to anyone else. Join the almost 10,000 other people getting photos, inspiration, tips, and more delivered right to their inboxes.
Cool. Now let’s talk about photography!
When I started JoshuaCripps.com way back in 2008 it was simply to share the best photos I’d taken as a nature photographer. And that’s still one of the main reasons I run this site. I ADORE our beautiful planet and I want to share my love for it with you. I want to show you incredible places you never dreamed existed. I want to inspire you to get out and explore. And I want to help you build your own relationship with nature so that we can protect it. So here you can find:
Another photographer friend of mine, Jim Patterson, was having the same experience. Chatting about it at the beach one night we decided to offer a seascape photography class and see if people would sign up. Not only did they sign up, but the class sold out with a waiting list in less than 48 hours. So we started teaching more classes, and adding new classes in different locations. Now, nine years later we’re both still going strong, still teaching workshops. Sometimes we teach together, sometimes with other photographers, and sometimes by ourselves. But no matter what my goal is to continue to lead fun and exciting trips to some of the world’s most beautiful places. I love helping people improve their photography and build connections with passionate photographers from all over the planet. Presently I have trips in the following locations:
I’m thinking about organizing more trips in places like China, Pakistan, and South America. Interested? Let me know.
My YouTube Career and the Pro Photo Tips Channel
In 2014 I realized that one of the other problems with leading tours is that I couldn’t reach photographers who were living on the other side of the world, or photographers who couldn’t afford to travel. I began recording short videos full of my best photographic lessons and uploading them to YouTube. I had no expectations and only humble aspirations, but now 5 years later the channel, Joshua Cripps Photography (formerly known as Pro Photo Tips), has over 300,000 subscribers and my instructional videos have been viewed over 12 million times! I still can’t wrap my head around those numbers.
If you are just starting out in nature photography and want to build a solid foundation of technique, composition, philosophy, and post processing, you should check out some of my most popular stuff:
Over the past few years I’ve been receiving more and more enquiries from photographers who are interested in turning their passion into their career. I’m not going to lie to you: it’s a long road full of REALLY hard work and lots of failure to make this happen, but the rewards are incredible. The freedom to travel when and where you want, to see the world’s most beautiful places, and to have unbelievable personal experiences with nature: these are just a few of the things that come with being a full time nature photographer.
Of course making a career of it is not as simple as building a website, posting some photos, and letting the cash roll in. There is so much that goes into building a sustainable business that I wanted to provide some of the best lessons and ideas I’ve learned over the past 10 years of doing this.
The funny thing is I never planned to be a photographer. In fact, I didn’t buy my first decent camera until I was 25 years old. Before that I was convinced I was going to be an astronaut. From the time I was 12 or 13 I knew I wanted to study aerospace engineering, and that I was going to parlay that into a job at NASA, ultimately leading to my selection in the astronaut program. And I headed down that path with single-minded determination.
In high school I took all the advanced math and science courses I could, then went on to study aerospace engineering at USC on an academic scholarship. Everything was going great until I decided to study abroad in Australia the first semester of my junior year. That’s when things began to unravel. Not because I was bitten by a crocodile or hugged to death by a koala. But because none of the courses I took in Oz ended up counting toward my degree back in the US. Guess I should’ve looked into that beforehand. D’oh!
What it meant was that the first semester of my senior year I had to take a double load of upper-division engineering courses: all the senior-level ones, plus all the ones from my junior year I missed while in Australia. After that semester I was done; my brain was well and truly fried. I didn’t want to see another math equation or hear about laminar flow through a nozzle for the rest of my life. Instead I resolved to travel.
So I finished out my senior year and graduated Magna Cum Laude with a BS in aerospace engineering, hoooo nerd points! I spent the next 7 months being the least interesting person alive as I worked and worked, saved and saved, and did absolutely nothing that would cost me money, except buy a one way plane ticket to New Zealand. Then on January 1st, 2004 I hopped on a plane to NZ and spent the next 19 months traveling solo through 20+ countries, learning how to say hello and thank you in 10+ languages, and eating as much street food as I possibly could.
Along the way I had some of the most intense and formative experiences of my life. My values changed and the way I wanted to live my life began to shift. I gained perspective on my American lifestyle and developed a community of international friends. The very person I thought I was began to transform. But when I tried to express this to my friends and family back home I found I was incapable. My storytelling skills were garbage and my photos never did justice to the scene I was trying to portray. Frustrated by this inability to truly share these important moments I started to wonder how I could better portray my experiences so that my audience would feel some of what I was feeling. At the time I had a strong aversion to writing (little did I realize how much I’d come to enjoy it), and so I began to think more critically about my photographs. Not too critically though; after all, there was street food to eat. But that’s how the seed was planted.
Fast forward to mid-2005 and I was completely out of money and headed back home to California. I decided that my previous self was dumb and that maybe science and math weren’t so bad after all. So I went and got myself a job designing communication satellites for Boeing. It was a great job, a great company, and one of the best things about it was the amount of time they’d let me take off work. (In fact, I might still be on an extended vacation; I should probably check on that.) Every year I’d take off between four and five weeks and go somewhere big.
The very first year I went to Alaska, and right before the trip I bought myself a little present: a Nikon D50 digital SLR. The seed of photography had begun to sprout and I was keen to see it grow. So off to Alaska I went with a big camera and even bigger dreams of the amazing photos I’d take with it. Problem was I had absolutely no idea how to use it. I’d twiddle the knobs one way and press the button. Twiddle them the other way and press it again. Composition? What the heck does that even mean? I don’t know, but there’s a moose so let me point my camera at it. Nat Geo, here I come.
But once I got home the truth of the matter came to light. I looked at the photos on my computer monitor and discovered with a sick, sinking feeling that they all SUCKED, with a capital UCKED. But this was an important moment, because it signified a shift in my thinking when photography transitioned from simply something fun to do while traveling, to a Problem To Be Solved. This is what engineers are trained to do: solve problems. And my photos not living up to my expectations? Well, now that was a big problem.
So I dove into the world of nature photography with both feet (is it still a dive if you go in feet first?). I devoured articles on not only what aperture is but why you would bother to choose one f-stop over another. I read about the emotional as well as technical implications of different shutter speeds. I learned how to spot meter, shoot in raw, and even the most important thing of all: how to remove the lens cap. I also found photographers I admired and studied their works, analyzing composition and lighting. How they placed the elements of their photos, what times of day and in what conditions were they shooting, what worked about their photos, and what didn’t.
And you know what happened? My photos started getting better, a lot better. Which made seeking out and taking pictures a heckuva lot more fun and satisfying. It soon became my all-encompassing hobby. And many many days after work (and weekends) were spent out crashing around Southern California looking for the best spots to take the best photos I could.
After about two years of this a few chance encounters led to me earning my first few dollars as a photographer. This was early 2008. First, I made some prints of my best shots to date and took them down to a local painter whose work I admired. I simply wanted some feedback from a professional visual artist, to see if he could offer advice about composition or treatment. To my surprise he thought the shots were good enough that he suggested I enter the Hermosa Beach Art Walk (or maybe as chair of the Art Walk he just wanted my $75 entry fee, hmmm….). He even gave me suggestions of how to create a booth and framed pieces for the fair. So I entered and sold about $700 worth of prints in that one day show. I was absolutely floored!
Around the same time I had entered a photo competition in my home town and after the judging was complete I received two phone calls from the jurors. First they told me to come pick up two of the four pieces I entered which weren’t accepted. Then they hung up. Oh. The next day the jury called back and let me know I’d won first place in the contest. Ha! Fast forward a couple of months and during the awards ceremony I made a connection that led to me assisting on my very first photo workshop. Of course, by “assist” all I really did was make sure no one wandered off and got lost, but hey, I was still earning money (a tiny amount) by leading (shepherding) photographers on a photo workshop. This was the big leagues, man!
Meanwhile I continued to while away the days as an engineer. That is until the housing crisis struck the US economy and Boeing went about laying off thousands of workers. So with visions of all this new photography coin rattling around in my brain I started deliberately writing bad code into our software. And when satellites began blowing up left and right the company traced it back to me and laid me off…..Kidding! In reality I simply went to my bosses, told them I wanted a chance to try making it as a full time photographer, and off I went.
That was the second fateful -yet totally naive- decision of my photo career. I had no idea what it took to run a business, how to attract clients, create and maintain income streams, and constantly fight off the surges of self doubt and utter bewilderment that made me want to scurry back to the safe confines of my Boeing cubicle. And yet, running headlong into building a photo business gave me a crash course in Eking Out a Living 101. At the same time it was another Problem To Be Solved, though orders of magnitude bigger, tougher, and more complicated than simply learning how to use my camera.
I spent the next four years attending art festivals, assisting on workshops, working side jobs (even went back to engineering as a consultant for about half a year), racking up tons of credit card debt, collecting unemployment (thanks, Obama), and even co-founding a workshop company with Jim Patterson, a friend and fellow landscape photographer. And all the while I continued to build diverse income streams from teaching to print sales to licensing to photo contests to recording and selling video tutorials. And eventually, in 2012, I was able to earn 100% of my income from photo-related activities. Damn, did that feel good!
Things continued to grow in 2013, but 2014 was the year that my career changed wildly for the better. Out of the blue I received an email from Nikon asking me to help create sample photos for the international marketing efforts of the D750 camera. Floored, honored, and pumped, I spent nine days roaming around Yosemite and the Eastern Sierra with a prototype D750, taking photos that demonstrated the remarkable features of the camera. Those photos were published on Nikon’s website and in promotional materials around the world. That led to me speaking about the experience at Photo Plus Expo, the largest photo trade show in the US. Things have been on the up and up ever since.
And now here it is another five years later and my business has continued to thrive, allowing me to travel all over the world while photographing the most beautiful places on the planet. I feel immense gratitude for this path I’m on, and I want to turn around and help as many other people as I can. Whether that’s encouraging you to explore and enjoy the beauty of Planet Earth, sharing my photography with you, helping you improve your own photography, or even helping you turn photography into a business, that’s why I’m here.
August: Manzanita, Poetry and Prose of the Mother Lode and Sierra; Regional Publication
June: North Pacific Research Board Yearly Calendar; Regional Publication
January: InFocus Photography Competition, 1st place
December: Assignment for Canoe and Kayak Magazine; National Publication
January: InFocus Photography Competition, 1st place
I firmly believe that your gear is nowhere near as important to your photography as your vision and skill are. Many of my best-selling and favorite photos were taken with “amateur” gear. That being said, good gear certainly makes it easier to create good photos. Here’s what I’m currently shooting with:
You can also read my Interview FAQ which compiles almost every question I’ve ever been asked in a written interview.
Work With Me
Commercial and Assignment Photography
I am available for commercial landscape and nature photography projects around the world. I am a highly technical, creative, driven, and organized photographer with a track record of delivering exceptional images on a strict timeline. I have worked with tourism agencies, small companies, and global brands like Nikon to produce nature photos for local and international markets.
Simply put I love to teach and am available for conferences and workshops worldwide. Contact me to discuss your needs.
I am an experienced public speaker and give exciting, engaging presentations and workshops at trade shows and conferences around the US. As a presenter I have shared the stage with legendary photographers like Joe McNally and Art Wolfe. I am happy to deliver a presentation to excite, inspire, and educate your audience.
Photography is my passion. If you have an idea of how we can work together to share the beauty of Planet Earth, improve conservation efforts, encourage people to explore, or something else, please get in touch below.
Before sending in your proposal please note that:
I do not write sponsored posts about gear
I do not make video reviews in exchange for product
I do not do photography in exchange for exposure
The best way to stay in touch with me is through my newsletter. That’s where I send out all my best stuff about making your photography dreams come true. I’m not going to spam you with a bunch of crap, and I’ll never sell your name to anyone else. Join the other 12,000+ people getting photos, inspiration, tips, and more delivered right to their inboxes.
If you have a question about me or my career, first let me encourage you to read my FAQ.
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