About Rob Decker and the National Park Poster Project
My name is Rob Decker. I’m a photographer and graphic artist — with a single great passion for our National Parks. And, I've been exploring and photographing them for more than 50 years!
Many people have influenced me over the years -- my parents were avid travelers and photographers. And my grandfather started photographing the national parks about 100 years ago.
I visited my first park, Yosemite, in 1965, when I was only 6 years old.
And, I started photographing them when I was just 8 in 1967, on a 10,000 mile cross-country trip. I visited 5 national parks, and photographed them with this Kodak Duaflex camera with 120 black and white roll film -- and I was hooked! My grandfather gave me a 1945 Graphlex 4x5 camera and we built a wet darkroom in the back of my dad’s workshop in the early 70s.
I spent the next 10 years immersed in black & white photography, including four years on the high school yearbook staff...three as head photographer. During that time, I did a lot of independent production work. And my friend Kurt and I operated a successful portrait photography business for several years. After graduating in 1977, I made another epic, 10,000 mile cross country trip, visiting the Grand Canyon, Carlsbad Caverns, Shenandoah, Great Smoky, Acadia, Glacier and several other National Parks.
But in 1979, I had the greatest experience -- photographic or otherwise -- of my life, when I studied under Ansel Adams in Yosemite National Park. I wish I had a selfie with Ansel Adams instead of my classmate... But I did have him autograph two of his books – The Negative and The Print. We photographed the Yosemite valley, as well as the Sierra Nevada high country. And he taught me about the Zone System, lighting, composition and setting, as well as techniques to use in the darkroom.
I've worked as an independent developer and producer for the past 30 years. And, I've had the opportunity to use my photography and graphic art skills for a wide variety of clients, including American Express, DELL, Dick's Sporting Goods, the National Association of Realtors, Overstock.com, Stanford University, The Washington Post and many others. In fact, some of my national park photos are featured in Rand McNally's travel and atlas products.
Several years ago, I designed and developed a process to create this WPA-style effect. It starts by taking a series of high dynamic range (HDR) photographs. Then, through digital transformation, I turn the composite HDR photograph into a work of graphic art, reminiscent of the WPA style popular in the late 1930s and early 1940s.
As a photographer, artist and craftsman, I am passionate about preserving the nostalgic style of the WPA-era. I'm picking up where the masters from that time left off, building on what they began to create a whole new body of National Park poster art for our generation. Every Limited Edition poster, Artist Proof and postcard I produce is printed in the USA on "Conservation" a 100% recycled, domestically produced stock with soy-based inks. And they are printed by one of the greenest printers in America, right here in Colorado.
My hope is that by creating these iconic images, I can help to generate awareness — not only of the grandeur of these amazing places — but also for the need of continued protection and operation of the parks. I think that everyone — now and in the future — should have the chance to enjoy the often-fascinating and always awe-inspiring majesty of our National Parks.
When you buy one of my creations, you also help the trusts, conservancies and associations that support our National Parks. I donate 10% of annual profits to these organizations who use them to raise funds for their ongoing work.
So, join me as I embark on this epic journey to photograph all 61 of the American Icons we call the National Parks. Along the way, I'm creating stunning images of the parks in the nostalgic style of the WPA! To date, I have visited 50 of our 61 National Parks. And my goal to visit the remaining parks is not so much a Bucket List, as it is a desire to capture the beauty, vibrant culture and rich history of these National Treasures.