About the Photographer

Erik Stensland


Erik Stensland was born in 1968 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He soon moved to Montana where he developed a deep love for the mountains. From a very early age he was hiking and exploring the streams and forests around his mountain home.

In 1978 Erik’s family returned to Minnesota where he completed his early education. In 1991 after finishing college, he moved to Europe where he met his wife Joanna. They married and moved to the Balkans living in Bulgaria, Albania and Kosovo, where they spent 12 years assisting local churches and development agencies. In January 2004, they returned to the States for personal restoration and so that Erik could complete his MA in Organizational Development. They settled near Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado which enabled Erik to pursue his love of nature through photography.

With the beauty of Rocky Mountain National Park literally on his doorstep, Erik rises frequently long before dawn to hike back to remote lakes or up high peaks to capture the unparalleled beauty of the Park in warm morning light. He is also developing photographic collections from the Desert Southwest, the Pacific Northwest, as well as from the United Kingdom. His work has been featured in dozens of art shows, in the rotunda of the Colorado state capital and in numerous galleries. Erik also has his own gallery in Estes Park, Colorado as well as mini-galleries in Grand Lake, Colorado, at the Trail Ridge Store in Rocky Mountain National Park and will soon be opening one in New Mexico.

My Vision

My vision is to reveal the beauty of creation, capturing those moments and views that simply take one's breath away. We have all felt our heart leap when we see a majestic view or watch a mountain sunrise. The beauty of nature awakens within us a deep, almost inexpressible longing. There is something about it that speaks to our souls and gives us a hint as to the very meaning of life. My aim is to awaken that longing within the viewer, in hope that they will pursue that journey into the very heart of life itself. 

Artist Statement

Photography is a way for me to communicate my deepest feelings about our natural world. To me, nature is more than a random collection of mineral elements and organic growth; it is a story which tells us who we are. Today people flock to the mountains, deserts and oceans to connect with a deep longing and desire that they feel in the presence of untamed nature, a yearning that is hard to put into words, an almost spiritual connection with these wild places. One of the connecting threads behind these feelings is the concept of beauty, yet for many artists beauty is passé. Pablo Picasso was once asked what he thought of beauty. He responded, “To me it is a word without sense because I do not know where its meaning comes from nor where it leads to.” Unlike Picasso, I believe that beauty holds a message and my photography is an attempt to explore the deep voice of beauty. As Dostoyevsky once wrote, "Beauty is a riddle." 

My work is characterized by vibrant natural colors which are typically found at sunrise or sunset. Having spent over a decade in post-communist Europe where much was very gray, I returned to the United States with a deep hunger for color and so I’ve made that a key element of my photography. I believe that it gives my images a vibrant and hopeful feel which can speak into our mundane and often pain filled lives.

My primary area of focus is Rocky Mountain National Park. I’ve spent over 7 years exploring its 415 sq. miles, building the most extensive collection of fine art images of the park. Beyond Rocky, I’m actively building collections in the Desert Southwest,  the Pacific Northwest and the United Kingdom.

These days I am shooting with the Nikon D800e and two primary lenses; a 14-24mm F2.8 and a 24-70mm 2.8.  I also have a Canon Rebel with a couple of longer lenses. Earlier in my photographic career I used a 4”x5” wooden view camera. 

I typically display my work in a plaque mounted format in which the print is protected by a thin UV protective laminate sheet and then mounted to a hard surface. This not only protects the image, but allows it to have an almost three-dimensional feel which brings the images to life. 

At the moment I sell my work primarily through my own gallery in Estes Park as well as via my websites. I also have mini-galleries in Grand Lake, Colorado and near Abiquiu, New Mexico. Over the years my work has been sold in numerous galleries and has been displayed in the rotunda of the State Capitol. Denver's five star hotel, "The Four Seasons" has purchased my work for all of its rooms. I have a very large piece on on Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines ship, Quantum of the Seas. The Ritz Carlton in Aspen, Colorado has over 100 of my prints, etc. My work has been purchased for numerous hospitals, hotels, offices, restaurants and homes across the globe. My work is regularly featured in popular magazines and I have published a number of books including two nationally awarded hardcover books. 

April 2018