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About Trey Ratcliff
“I’m a warm-hearted, old-school gentleman explorer with really cool toys.”
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“Trey’s pictures are a daily source of inspiration for me. I can’t count the times that I’ve gotten stuck in my writing and, as I sit there staring at my computer screen desperately trying to think of the next idea, the screensaver kicks in with one of Trey’s images, and the shapes and colors triggered something in me that got me to the next note…”
Hans Zimmer, Composer,The Lion King, Gladiator, Batman, Inception, Sherlock Holmes
About the About Me page
Hello! I’m quite a humble person, really, but I know that people that come to this page want to know more about me. This page started out small, but people ask more and more questions, so the page grows and grows!
Briefly… a photography-centric bio
I’m best known for, well, I suppose, this site, StuckInCustoms.com, which has become the #1 Travel Photography Blog on the Internet. I started early with the sharing, and as you can see on the right, Google has tracked billions of views, which is mind-boggling to me! At least a few of those views are from my mom, who visits the site many times per day! My work first became popular after I had the honor of having the first HDR photo ever to hang in the Smithsonian. After that, I was fortunate enough to be represented by Getty (who I have since dumped because they take 80%), been featured on the BBC, ABC, FOX, CBS, and NBC, and have had numerous showings around the world. I am known generally for the unique way in which I capture and process the world around me. I have my own “take” on HDR Photography, and you can see my free HDR Tutorial right here.
I grew up blind in one eye and this might have changed the way I view the world. I don’t know. It’s hard to be objective about the way one’s brain was wired. My background is in computer science and math, so I bring an algorithm-like process to capturing the scene in such a way that it evokes memories in a palpable manner. Whatever that means. My promise to you: One New Photo Every Day. Probably.
Speaking at Google Zeitgeist
If you are extra curious about me and HDR photography, this video is a pretty good summation of the whole shootin’ match. The talk “The World We Design – Technology and Beauty in Photography” is from Google Zeitgeist Americas
What I look Like
Don’t most people click on an “About Me” page to see what the bloke looks like? I don’t like photos of me, and I can’t ever decide which one is representative of me. Anyway, I’ll post a few different ones here, but don’t think I’m one of those Instagram non-stop selfie people haha… (and if you simply MUST see more, here are a bunch of photos that other people have taken.)
Okay this is me
My mom thinks I look cute in this photo. Who am I to disagree with my mom? I don’t know what else to say here other than maybe you would like to subscribe to my YouTube Channel where we have all sorts of videos. I don’t know if you are a photographer who likes tutorials or simply a fan. Either way, I have lots of videos there.
Me In Action, Sort Of
Here I am in my new home of New Zealand in the middle of a photo shoot. This is a pretty video with nice music, and I thought you’d enjoy it! There’s also a full tutorial-version of this video that is 45 minutes long where I show you the photos I took, talk more about the experience, and this sort of thing. You can get that for free by signing up for our free and beautiful Newsletter!
My friend Curtis Simmons took this photo of me while giving a workshop in Namibia. We occasionally do these photo adventures around the world and this one was absolutely incredible! That’s a quiver tree to my right, used to make arrows by the locals… that little plant to my right has poison inside of it that they use on the tips of the quivers.
Tutorials and Reviews
I freely share my photos and many tutorials with everyone. I use the Creative Commons license, so people are free to use this stuff on their own, as long as it is not for commercial purposes. A lot of people come here the first time for the various tutorials or reviews. The first tutorial is about my style of photography which has a special little twist – the details are in my HDR Tutorial. If you want know even more, we also offer a downloadable Complete HDR Tutorial. The Camera Reviews section has also been growing a lot lately with some good stuff. Perhaps you can get the inside scoop on cool things in there.
Coming Out of the Sandstorm
I was walking across the desert at Burning Man just after a massive sandstorm, and out of the dust emerged another photographer. His name was Luke Stephen Severn and he asked if he could take a photo, so while pulling up my brass goggles, he got this.
People always ask where I got those brass goggles. If you just jump on etsy.com and do a search for “Steampunk Googles” (or Steampunk anything), then you’ll see some cool results!
Categorical Breakdown of Me:
- Name: Trey Ratcliff
- Gender: Dude
- Primary Language: English
- Place of Residence: New Zealand
- Sign, although I’m not into this form of mysticism: Cancer
- High School: Jesuit College Prep Dallas
- University: Southern Methodist University (Computer Science and Math)
PhotoWalking Around the World
I’ve gotten into the habits of meeting you guys all over the world! Whenever I have an extra day or night in a city, I always try to make time for a free PhotoWalk. These are tremendously fun events! Here’s a photo of one we did in Melbourne, and they even get bigger than this! We’ve done them in Paris, London, Tokyo, Beijing, San Francisco, New York, Dallas, LA, Auckland, Christchurch, and many more places. Be sure to watch our Newsletter to find out when I might be coming to your city too!
In a Nutshell
Most people find me odd, and others have trouble finding me at all. I’m often busy doing something terribly important, but it seems hardly important to the other person once they have found me and asked me what the hell I am doing.
At the afterparty
This photo was taken by a photographer friend in Tokyo named Takahiro-san. I’ve met So Many Wonderful people around the world thanks to this blo, and I don’t take any of it for granted. I first met Takahiro during a photowalk in Tokyo and then we really hit it off. We ended up trekking all over the city together. I saw him the next time I went back to give a speech at the Google HQ. In the little after-party, he grabbed this photo with one of his fancy cameras. Here are some photos I took of him
- Computer & video games
- Writing fiction
- Raising kids (little RPG chars)
- Jogging with iPod on too loud
- Making up a lot of games if there is another guy and a ball involved
- * above hobby sounded sketchy
Books (one from each genre…)
- Patrick Rothfuss or George RR Martin
- The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
- Almost anything from Philip K. Dick
- Eckhart Tolle books
- His Dark Materials
- Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
- Ender’s Game
- Tale of Two Cities
- Atlas Shrugged
- The Journeyer
- Winesburg, Ohio
- Free to Choose
- I don’t want to list a ton of books… but anything about genetics, patterns, anthropology, history, come visit my library and I’ll have a big pile of books for you to borrow!
Having a drink near a glacier
This is a very typical photo of me getting off a chopper near my home in Queenstown, New Zealand. Thanks to Choppy for the ride and the martini! I got that jilaba while in Morocco… it’s so warm and cozy. I bought it in Fes and then in Marrakech had extra pockets sewn inside (like Kvothe) to hold all my lenses.
(I hate listing movies because it makes me sound like a My-Spacey 13-year-old-girl, but people seem to like reading this sort of thing because they feel like it gives them a cutting Freudian insight into my psyche, a notion I heartily dismiss.)
- Fantastical movies like The Fall, Big Fish, and Pan’s Labyrinth
- Crouching Tiger
- Office Space
- Napoleon Dynamite
- Best in Show and that whole line of movies from Christopher Guest
- The Big Labowski
- Ron Fricke movies like Baraka
- Obvious predictable adoration of LOTR, SW, Batman series
- Anything with Christian Bale
- Anything with Woody Allen
- Nothing that stars both Christian Bale AND Woody Allen
- Ambient and world new age electronica
- Gotan Project
- Bel Canto & Anneli Drecker
- Cesaria Evora
- Patrick O’Hearn
- David Darling
- Acoustic Guitar… Spanish Guitar
- Listen to almost all genres though…weird stuff!
- Ricky Gervais shows…
- 進撃の巨人, Shingeki no Kyojin (Attack on Titan)
- Firefly (canceled, sadly)
- Game of Thrones
- Burn Notice
- The Office (both)
- All the Connections shows with the great James Burke
- Good Eats
- Curb Your Enthusiasm
- Arrested Development
- It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia
- The Simpsons
A slide shade of evolution
This was shot near the Batu Caves of Malaysiay. Now, it might look like me and this Macaque are smiling at one another. Well, I am smiling. That monkey is showing aggression (they do so by baring their teeth). My jugular is a warm, salty half-second away. But, right after this moment, I threw him a piece of fruit and made a hasty egress.
- Anything with carbs
- Chocolate (did I say that already?)
- Englsih (barely)
- French (enough not to get sneered at by the French themselves)
- Spanish (enough to order Texmex)
Quotes I like:
- Homer: (screaming) “Why must I fail at every attempt at masonry?”
- Winston Churchill: “Success is the ability to move from one failure to the next with no loss of enthusiasm.”
Sleeping in the Sahara
I went camel trekking across Morocco in the Sahara desert and approached the border of Algeria. I was with a group of Berbers, and I ended up staying in their camp for the night. The desert was so cold… I was taking a photo of the fire and decided to sit down in front if while I took a selfie of sorts. After the photo, I sat there for a long time, conjuring strange thoughts from the fire.
Oh, also, I also like the to draw and I find it helps me quite a bit with the photography. I started teaching myself in an experiment to see if I could learn in April of 2008. Here is a compilation of some work I did between April and October of that year. I still don’t think I’m very good, but I look forward to improving.
If you would like to see more drawings and sketches, I’ve put them all in the Drawing category.
Besides drawing, I also like digitally paint. I have done a few of these… none are for sale – just experiments. You can read more about it and see more on the Fire in Yellowstone page.