My name is Jesse Thornton, born and raised in Point Pleasant, West Virginia. Current resident of Huntington, West Virginia. Avid explorer, student of the sciences, and dreamer.
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It’s probably safe to say that we all have taken photographs of some of the amazing scenes we encounter in our environment only to look back on them with some disappointment. The photo doesn’t quite live up to the feeling you had when you were there in the moment. There’s a certain richness, depth and vastness to the environment that’s missing. Part of my goal as a photographer is to bring back whatever that “thing” is by utilizing all the tools at my disposal, from my camera to my computer. It will never be possible to fully give the viewer the feeling of being there, but my hope is to spark an emotion and an urge to get out there and live the experience for yourself.
With this goal comes an awareness for the local environment, something that is often forgotten because we tend to look past our own back yards. That is why I put a strong emphasis on my home state of West Virginia. I firmly believe that one does not need to travel far or spend outrageous amounts of money to see some fantastic sites, whether it be during the day or night.
I’ve particularly developed a fondness for the night sky, which is something that I feature often and prominently in many of my shots. I’m saddened by the fact that we are quickly losing our night skies to light pollution. Many people live their entire lives without ever seeing the Milky Way. How can you miss something that you never had to begin with? I’m fortunate enough to live in a state where near complete darkness can still be found; where the Milky Way is still visible from horizon to horizon, one of the very few bastions on the East coast where this is still possible. However, looking at current trends in the expansion of light pollution, we are likely to lose our dark skies in West Virginia within a decade unless ordinances take simple actions to implement better lighting systems across our cities that focus light on the ground, rather than allowing it to wastefully scatter across the horizon. It can be done, there are a few major cities such as Flagstaff, Arizona that are doing this successfully right now. The starry sky has inspired humankind throughout history – to advance us culturally and scientifically. It’s given us perspective on our place in the universe and allowed us to dream bigger. It’s an endangered ecosystem that every living creature depends on, including ourselves. I feel a certain obligation to document what we’re losing because so few people know about the issue.
While my goals may seem multifaceted on the surface, they all share the common theme of a great appreciation for life and adventure.