We Relocated to the Seattle, Washington Area! Why?

We Relocated to the Seattle, Washington Area! Why?

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!


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)

About The Author

Pro photographer, writer, master naturalist, Florida native in the PNW, lucky husband, father of two boys, big hockey and soccer fan, and native orchid hunter.

Comments (42)

  • Ginapaulina

    Oh Rich, you know I like to think that you moved to Seattle, because I was new to Florida, (Sarasota) and found your great pix at Myspace somehow, then facebook, etc and I told you how great my hometown Seattle was, haha jk.  I couldn’t be more pleased that you and Galina fell for Seattle, it is a fantastic area.  So many off the beaten path places to go, I want to tell you all about, but knowing you, you will discover them soon enough, by bike, on foot, or jeep…. and i’ll soon see lots of pics of my beloved Pacific North West.  This Buffalo shot is beautiful, love the crisp green grass, blending trees to the white snowy mts and clouds with light blue sky behind.  Kudos you are one FANTASTIC photographer and I am glad I stumbled upon your site, all those years ago…. Good luck in the PNW !!

  • Chance Garrick Williams

    Nice to have you here on the West Coast, Rich.  I know that you will make the best of it and continue to give us your excellent art.  I’m currently based in No Cal, and I travel to the Pacific Northwest at every opportunity. Looking forward to meeting you in person one day.


  • Misti @ oceanicwilderness.com

    I was wondering why you moved! I’m jealous of your photographic opportunities! Enjoy!

  • John Arleth

    I think you found the perfect spot.  I keep dreaming of a water front lot out there.  Stuck in Minnesota, for now.

  • Rain Csolak

    What a wonderful decision, Rich!
    When I joined the Army from Florida & asked for the SE USA,  I was assigned to Ft. Lewis, WA.  ~  and fell in love.  And as a photographer, the opportunities for breathtaking views abound.    Congratulations.    Wishing you healthy energy to enjoy all that is available there for you & your family to discover & revisit.  ~ Rain

  • Charlieaday

    Sorry the heat got to you, Hope it works out. We’ll still be looking for your presents on the web, you do terrific work!!

  • Florida Native Plant

    I can’t “Like” it, I just can’t!  Florida’s loss is Seattle’s gain, but it sure is a loss to Florida.  Good luck to you and your family, Rich! ~~Loret

  • Sharon Johnson

    Welcome to the great northwest.  I know you and your family will love it here once you make it through the first rainy season which can bother folks used to a lot of sunshine.  I grew up here, lived in LA for 11 years and was overjoyed when my husband was hired by Boeing and we could move back here.  I wouldn’t live anywhere else and I hope you will feel that way soon. 

  • RichLeighton

    Thanks! I lived in Nova Scotia for ten years. I can handle rain and fog 🙂

  • Cindy

    I am so happy for you Rich! Can totally understand getting away from the heat & Seattle will be a whole, new wonderful nature experience. Best of luck!

  • Tammy

    Hi Rich I’m excited for you and your family! I have been to Washington State twice now and just love it. I wish you have your family only the best in life. Thanks for letting me know! Tammy

  • PJ Martel

    Thank you for this post. The very best to you and your family in your new location and adventure. May this move bring wonderful surprises that you never even dreamed of.


    Hi Rich- I’m sure the NW will be as bountiful for you as was FL. All the best, keep your health and keep on shooting. – Bill

  • Ken441

    Best of luck to you.  Seattle area is quite pretty although I have not been there in some 30 years.  I worked there on a consulting assignment in late fall and saw a lot of fog and rain on too many days.  Food, mountains, and coast were however more than an offset.

  • Lynn

    Your move was a surprise, but I think you made a wonderful choice.  We lived in Washington state many years ago…and always thought it would be a wonderful place to retire to.  That probably won’t happen, but we both remember it as a special place to live.  The mountains, the ocean, the rainforest…and a casual, less frantic pace of living…AND cooler weather.  Perfect!

  • Angie Maddux

    Love this shot! This is great that you and your family are going to be able to experience such exciting new adventures. I can’t wait to see all the new photos you will be taking. Thx for taking all of us along for the ride!

  • Elizabeth Neily

    Wonderful move but we’re going to miss you here!

  • Elizabeth Neily

    Wonderful move but we’re going to miss you here!

  • kskadlec


  • Bill Metek

    Awesome, Rich !!!

  • Jacquee2002

    Real cool Rich…I’m glad you are getting a chance to see my side of the world ha-ha.  I live in No Calif about 10 hours from you ;0)……lots of things to see and do in Seattle area, and your right the coffee is great!
    Good luck in your continuing saga my friend

  • fl2native

    Wow Rich!  Looks as though it will be a great move for you and your family.  I have a high school friend (professional photographer) who fairly recently relocated from Central Florida to Oregon.  His photos from the west coast are simply amazing.

  • Vincent Mistretta

    Rich, I have followed your blog and images for years, great stuff.  Very envious of your new adventure and look forward to reading and seeing all about it.  BTW, there is a doll of a nature photographer, Laurie Excell, that lives in Seattle.  You should look her up, she is a great person and I am sure a willing resource for you and your family.

  • Beverly Everson

    We are all looking forward to seeing your images from your new home! Wishing all of you the very best!

  • Beverly Everson

    We are all looking forward to seeing your images from your new home! Wishing all of you the very best!

  • Laurie

    WOW! Rich, you always amaze and astound us with your wonderful work, your friendliness, your generosity and your sense of adventure! But, I never saw this one coming. My hat is off to you and your family for this bold move. I do hope you will blog or tweet or keep us all posted in your way as you notice everything you see and hear and smell and taste and touch in your new home.  Best of everything to you all. Sincerely, Laurie aka totallynudegirl

  • Npeverett

    Thanks for the update on you. This answered my questions. I’m thankful that I met you at the #Tallahassee #Tweet-up earlier this year and I have truly enjoyed viewing your work. Best wishes and God’s blessing to you and your family, wherever you are. Although you are far away, technology will keep us Floridans connected to you. Take care and I look forward to seeing Seattle through your eyes!

  • Debby Merritt

    I didn’t know you had moved…wow! Bigfoot country! Now THERE’s the money shot!

  • John Dargan

    Wow — big change! Congratulations. Your explanation makes sense to me. I’m glad that you have such a strong sense of what you were meant to do in this life!

  • Geristn

    Richard, we missed you when you left HW and now you are even farther north and west.  I must admit, my husband, Stan and I visited Seattle before a cruise to Alaska. We went on a sightseeing trip and both felt this would be a great place to live.
    Congrats on your decision, continued luck in your business and God speed to your family
    Geri Huntsinger
    Highland Woods, Bonita Springs, FL

  • Patricia Booth

    Rich, Congrats on your decision & best wishes to you and your family. I have heard Washington is quite a beautiful state. The farthest north on the west coast I managed to travel was to the Lava Beds National Monument in northern CA, about 20 or 30 miles south of the Oregon border. It’s just a state away from you, now and a fantastic natural wonder to see. Thought I would throw that suggestion your way. Good luck to you all! Patricia

  • Paula Kiger

    Thanks for the explanation! I wish you all the best in Seattle and it sounds like a great decision for you and your family. Like Nicole E., I only met you once at a TweetUp – wish we had had more opportunities to interace face to face but social media can bring us a little closer than the physical miles will allow. Thank you again for allowing me to use one of your images in a blog post earlier this year. Wish I could have had your eye and skills on my recent trip to Guatemala – photography opps aplenty there!

  • Barbara

    We will miss you here in Florida Rich!  But I am certainly looking forward to seeing your photographs from the other Coast. 

  • Cindy

    Hi Rich & Galina:  On a whim, I typed in Florida Nature Photography and came upon your site.  I am the organizer of a meetup group, entitled coincidentally Florida Nature Photography.  We are a group of 172 Local, Central Florida photographers.  Since you are moving to Seattle, I was wondering if you are still keeping the site??  What are your thoughts, Cindy

  • Barbara Kramer

    Rich I wish you and family the best of life and luck. I have always admired and was inspired by your work and dedication. I will continue as long as you are findable to follow your blogs and photo’s.
     You certainly picked a wonderful place to move.

  • RichLeighton

    Hi Cindy – so sorry for the late reply. This website domain and the revenue generated from it through image and book sales is a large part of my family’s income. Even though I am no longer living in Florida, I will be returning often to photograph all my favorite corners of my home state. If you were willing to make an offer for the domain that would be worth selling it, then I might be persuaded to consider it…..

  • Arianna

    I love your photography!!!  I’m glad you got out of Florida, and off to a new start on the west coast. You will definitely love it there!! keep taking those pics, cuz i learn off your photos!

  • Elizabeth Anne Middleton

    Rich, I think you will love the Pacific Northwest.  I lived there for more than a decade, playing piano at Nordstrom in Bellevue Square, Southcenter, and Downtown Portland, Lloyd Center and Washington Square in Portland.  The entire Pacific NW area is filled with nature’s beauty and it seems many folks there are onto the protect-the-environment wagon.  I was looking for you on Facebook today, went to your website and voila, here you are.  So why did you leave Facebook; was it privacy issues?  I’ve been questioning a lot of things about Facebook lately.
    All best wishes to you and your family,

  • RichLeighton

    Thanks Elizabeth! I go through Bellevue Square all the time now 🙂 Will you be visiting up here anytime soon? I’d love to meet up with you sometime…..

  • Geri Huntsinger

    Rich, what a surprise. We have visited Seattle and both said ‘we could live here’. So I’m glad for you and your family. Good luck and don’t let the moose bite.
    Stan & Geri Huntsinger
    Highland Woods G&CC. Bonita Springs, FL

  • RichLeighton

    Thanks Geri! 🙂 We love it here – and should have moved here 20 years ago. I’ll keep an eye out for that moose – I haven’t gotten a photograph of one yet! 🙂 Take care and keep in touch!

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