Here’s a quick post I’ve been meaning to write for a while (before the big move) but never seemed to have a chance to write it until now. All across the social media spectrum I’ve been explaining myself until my typing fingers can’t take it anymore. Here it is in one place, and I’ll try to make it brief and to the point:

My family and my business have permanently left Florida for Seattle, Washington!

Why?

1. As many of you already know, I have had WAY too many heat injuries over the years shooting for my website, Florida Nature Photography. When someone does get a heat injury (heat stress, heat exhaustion, heat stroke) he/she is much more susceptible to reoccurrence.  In the past two years, my reoccurrence rate has become very serious. In the past two summers, I’ve been having issues with frequent passing out in the heat, hyperventilation, major confusion, loss of sense of direction and time, and resulting fatigue as a result. In the cool months of the year I was completely fine. For a nature photographer who spends extended periods of time in extremely remote locations of the Florida wilderness (especially deep in the Everglades on foot), this is about as bad and dangerous as it can get. My options were only work the cooler half of the the year, find a new profession, or keep doing what I love to do somewhere else where it never gets too hot. You guessed it – I chose the third choice.

2. Over the past few years, I had an interesting thing happen while I was out in nearly every corner of Florida. So many of my shooting opportunities were places and subjects that I’ve photographed hundreds of times over in every type of light available. So few new things to see. I’ve even come back from some photo outings empty-handed. This is why most of my recent work has been outside of Florida, with some longer trips into the Appalachian Mountains and nearby places. If I was going to move somewhere cooler, I wanted a BIG change, not just more of the same.

3. Why did we choose Seattle? I don’t have a very good answer for this, so I’ll try to explain it as best as possible. Nearly a year ago, my wife and I started looking into new places to move. We looked at the Northeast and some places looked good, but not overly appealing. We looked at places in Central USA, but nothing looked overly interesting that I can’t just fly or drive there to photograph. West Coast? Nice but way too far away. We were stumped and were not going to make any hasty decisions.

I don’t know where or when it happened, but I know it was about 8 or 9 months ago, Seattle started creeping into both of our heads. About as far away as one could get from Florida – yes. Never too hot or too cold. Extreme variation of natural environments – mountains, forests, desert in the east, northernmost rainforest in the USA to the west, Pacific coast, Puget Sound, close proximity to Canada and Alaska – all good things. On a personal level – great fishing, opportunities for my kids, lots to see and do with my family, excellent coffee and salmon (my faves!). It all started to sound better than good. Soon after, we stopped considering other places to move.

In May, I booked a flight to visit Seattle and check it out, and to see if a permanent move was doable. After a week, I saw that it was, and everything in me told me it was the right thing to do. I don’t often have strong gut feelings like this, but when I do – I always trust them. Almost three weeks ago, I loaded up a moving truck, and drove the 3000+ mile 10-day trip across the continent (yes – shooting nature photography the whole way) while my wife and two boys flew out to meet me when I arrived.

So here we are, in the beautiful Pacific Northwest.

What does this mean for Florida Nature Photography.com?

I will still be running the website from Seattle. I have about ten+ years’ worth of  unedited photos from all over Florida, and will be combining them with my new expanded project, North American Nature Photography which will be online within the week on our 99.9% finished major upgrade on my main website – www. LeightonPhotography.com. With this move, I am expecting things to keep growing like they have been after some major recent successes that will enable me to travel much more all over North America (including many winter trips to my favorite shooting spots in Florida)

American Buffalo – Grand Teton National Park (late-June 2011)