Fall in the Pacific Northwest is such an amazing time of year—the crisp nights, colorful foliage, snow capped mountains, old growth forests and misty mornings when the fog gently hugs the top of towering evergreens—it is truly something special.
We recently had the pleasure of connecting with Tommy Blades, a gifted photographer and explorer in the Pacific Northwest and curator of the extremely popular and stunning Instagram account @pnwonderland. His visual travels have taken him all over the world capturing varying landscapes, mountainous vistas, crystal clear lakes and much more. Tommy has managed to build a community of adventure advocates, showcasing the stunning outdoors in the unique corner of the world that is the Pacific Northwest. We discussed his love for the Pacific Northwest, when he started to develop an interest in photography, bucket list locations, and his inspirations. Read on for Tommy Blades adventures in wonderland.
"When I am near the water, I am the most myself. The most calm, clear headed, relaxed, and happy."
SHOEme.ca: Atlantic harbours, breathtaking landscapes, hometown explorations, and wine country. What are your top bucket list destinations?
Tommy: The number one place on mine and my wife’s bucket list is Newfoundland. A little obscure and not your typical go-to type of place—but that is what we are all about. The harbours, villages, and towns along the water are full of unique and beautiful character. When I am near the water, I am the most myself. The most calm, clear headed, relaxed, and happy. It refreshes me and excites me.
Coming in close to Newfoundland is Iceland. My wife and I didn’t have the opportunity to really take a honeymoon after we got married last May because we moved and my wife was starting her medical residency. We want to go to Iceland for our five-year anniversary and make it our honeymoon as well.
We are also planning a trip to Napa this upcoming Spring. Myself and two of my best friends all got married over the last year. We have the best time when we are all together, and we want to take our first trip as a group to Napa. My wife and I particularly love being in wine country.
Besides that, I am also really excited to explore more of my new backyard here in Washington. We moved here last May and have much to discover here.
SM: Everyone has that favorite travel spot that they reminisce about and go back to again and again. What are your most memorable travel destinations?
T: When I finally decided to quit my desk job in Utah and pursue my passions and dreams full time, I took a solo trip to Moab and Arches National Park in Utah. It was one of the most memorable trips of my life. It was in the low season for tourists and I had the entire national park to myself at sunrise one morning. I ran to the top of Delicate Arch and watched the sunrise and explored the area for the weekend. I spent time in local coffee shops and restaurants planning out my next moves and ideas and left feeling so at peace with my decisions.
I am fortunate to have done some more worldly travel throughout Italy, Belgium, The Netherlands, Ireland and Haiti. Prior to taking on my clothing brand and photography, I actually played soccer professionally and it helped me see some amazing parts of the world and have many “once in a lifetime” opportunities to travel.
SM: Calm bodies of water or expansive vistas—mountain vs. ocean. Which do you prefer?
T: This is a no-brainer for me. I am very deeply drawn to the sea. Being by the sea truly changes me. It is where I am the most myself. It has been my place to escape to and relax for years. When I was younger and living about an hour from Pacific City, Oregon—I would go there every weekend with my dog and spend the entire day hiking, exploring, and watching the waves. I lived in Utah for two years and honestly had the hardest time being away from the ocean. It is a huge part of me and always holds a big part of my heart.
SM: Like so many of us who hold adventure close to our heart, you must have a favorite season:
T: Fall is by far my favorite season. I wait all year long for fall! I love the foggy, moody, overcast days. I love the changing of colors and the incredibly unique beauty that takes over even the simplest things. I enjoy wearing hoodies, beanies, boots and drinking coffee. I love it so much that my brand made a hat last year called the Forever Fall hat—which helps you remember the magic of the season all year long.
"I love the changing colors and the incredibly unique beauty that takes over even the simplest things."
SM: The perfect picture is captured behind the lens. What is your favorite time of day to shoot and what camera and lenses do you use to capture your images?
T: For the last three years, I shot with a refurbished Nikon D3000 and a stock 18-5mm lens. The set-up would probably cost like $150 and I used it to it's fullest capacity. For years I wanted to upgrade but was never really able to justify it—until a couple months ago. I now shoot with a Sony A7 ii full frame and a Sony 28-70 mm lens. It is a completely different world shooting with this camera and I am inspired all over again.
I’m not one to have a ton of different lenses. I love the versatility of my 28-70mm – you can do just about anything with it. I am constantly learning and as my skill set continues to increase, my desire for more specific lenses/capabilities will probably increase as well. For now, this works perfectly for me!