Erik Stensland

Erik Stensland

Erik Stensland was born in 1968 in Edina, Minnesota, but as a result of a family move to Helena, Montana he developed a deep love for the mountains. From age 5 he was hiking and exploring the rugged terrain around his home.

In 1992, after completing his bachelor's degree, Erik met and married Joanna, and they moved to Albania and later Kosovo, where for 9 years they were involved in facilitating development agencies and local churches in this poor region of the Balkans. In January 2003, they returned to the U.S. so Erik could complete his Masters in Organizational Development. They settled near Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado fulfilling a life-time desire to return to the mountains.

Soon after moving to Colorado, Erik decided to devote himself to photography. With the beauty of Rocky Mountain National Park literally on his doorstep, Erik frequently rises long before dawn to hike back to remote lakes or up high peaks to capture the unparalleled beauty of the park in the unique morning light. He has since expanded his portfolio to include the United Kingdom and the Desert Southwest.

You can learn more about Erik and his photography at:


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 that 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.

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 U. S. with a deep hunger for color, which I’ve made that a key element of my photography.

My primary area of focus is Rocky Mountain National Park. I’ve spent nearly six years exploring its 415 sq. miles, building an extensive collection of fine art images of the park. The National Park Service has also begun sending me into their research areas to document them. Beyond Rocky, I’m building collections in the Southwest Desert and the United Kingdom.

These days I am shooting with the Canon 5D Mark ii and three lenses; a 17-40 F4, 24-105 F4 and a 70-200 F4. Previously I used a 4”x5” wooden view camera. I typically display my prints mounted on a wood background with a UV protective laminate over the print. This avoids the glare of glass and gives the images an almost three-dimensional feel.

At the moment I sell my work primarily through my own gallery in Estes Park as well as via my website. My work has been on display in many venues and this year the new Four Seasons Hotel in Denver will open with several of my images in each of their 230 rooms. I also have a book published by Skyline Press called “Images of Rocky Mountain National Park” that can be found at bookstores throughout Colorado.

Erik Stensland