I’m a warm-hearted, old-school gentleman explorer with really cool toys.
About the About Me page
Hello! I’m quite a humble person, really, but I have had so many nice people and new internet friends ask about me that I decided to make a whole page about it. People ask more and more questions… so the page grows and grows!
I live a strange, unplanned, and unexpected life of photography and adventure. I do my best to balance this with my family, who is starting to accompany me on more and more adventures as the kids get older. But more about me, the site, and everything else below.
I can’t email everyone back I’m afraid — my apologies. I’ve amassed over 85,000 unread emails, and I hereby declare email bankruptcy! However, contacting me with a +mention on Google+ stands the best chance of reaching me. Either way, be assured your emails are read by someone on my team.
Keeping up to date
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You may also be interested in signing up for my newsletter. It’s a virtual cornucopia of interesting links, insider information and beautiful photos. I personally promise to never spam you!
“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
Licensing, Business, and other Deals
We receive regular emails here from large and small businesses looking to license unique photos for every purpose under the sun. I am quite busy with real life, so we ask that you use the mechanisms below:
- To license rights to use the photos for commercial purposes: licensing at stuckincustoms.com
- To ask about advertising & sponsorships: advertising at stuckincustoms.com
- To suggest business ventures, partnerships, and the like, contact: business at stuckincustoms.com
- To hit us with something unexpected and fun, contact: wildcard at stuckincustoms.com
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. On average, the photos get over a million views a week, including a few from my mom. 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 photo every day. This is very hard… to produce 365 photos that I think are worthy every year. I will probably break this promise about 10 times during the year, so it’s really not much of a promise.
Speaking at Google Zeitgesit
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 2012
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. For example, I look much different when I wake up at 4 AM to take photos of the sunrise. At those times, I look like death.
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.
Tech Talk at Google HQ
I’ve given two tech talks at Google, and this is the second one of them… I talk about “Artists and the Internet: Digitally Extending your Natural Self” — and maybe you will find it interesting, even if you are not an artist!
After the hike
This was taken by a Russian friend in southern Argentina after we had backpacked about 40km through the Andes on a photography adventure. This is what I look like after she made me borscht for a solid week. My Russian roomate was a 300-pound beluga of a man who I shared a tent with one night. He smelled of gas and cognac. The next night I slept alone in my sleeping bag outside in the snow.
Media Reel for PR
Here is a collection of various media interviews and stuff if you are into that sorta thing. You can see links to the full interviews and stories on the various media outlets below. Thanks to the PR team for help putting this together!
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 HDR Video 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.
Other peculiar things that may be of interest:
- 25 Random Things about Trey – Some silly Facebook meme…
- Edward S Curtis – A tribute page to my favorite photographer
- Trey’s Reading List – created from friends and given freely to friends
- Things That Inspire Me – My digital antiques & bizarre menagerie of unusual collections
- Testimonials from fans – Thanks Guys!
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)
Here’s a photo of me on another one of my masochistic (but awesome!) photo adventures around the world. See all those spires back behind me? I’m actually up on top of one of them. This is a hard-to-reach area of southern China that was the inspiration to some of those scenes from Avatar. I climbed those spires twice in the same day. I got to one of the top of them just as the sun set, and had to descend in the middle of the absolute dark. I had a tiny flashlight on my camera that kept me out of trouble. I’ll never forget the time I was two inches from stepping on this very mysterious and bad-ass snake that would have liked nothing better than to rock my face off. And yes, when I travel, I miss my family. They often meet me for bits and pieces, or I just look at this nice Christmas photo of my kids to remind me!
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.
- 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 (Medieval Fantasy)
- His Dark Materials (Alternate Fantasy)
- Cryptonomicon (Techno-Thriller)
- Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (Comedy)
- Ender’s Game (Sci-fi)
- Tale of Two Cities (Classic Fiction)
- Atlas Shrugged (Fiction Novel)
- Genome (Science)
- Journeyer (Historical Fiction)
- Winesburg, Ohio (Short Stories)
- Free to Choose (Non-fiction)
- 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!
(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
Where the plates split apart
Here I am out in Iceland right at the spot where the Eurasian plate pulls apart from the North American plate. The geography is really wild in this area and the ground is perhaps the slipperiest place on earth. I’m there with my ever-present tripod, which does a pretty effective job of keeping me balanced.
- Ambient and world new age electronica
- Gotan Project
- Bel Canto & Anneli Drecker
- Cesaria Evora
- Dave Matthews Band
- Patrick O’Hearn
- David Darling
- Acoustic Guitar… Spanish Guitar
- Listen to almost all genres though, except for Eskimo music, which I despise.
- Ricky Gervais shows…
- Firefly (canceled, sadly)
- 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
- Favorite Cartoon Voice – Foxxy Love
- 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.”
Charity and Miscellaneous
I get countless requests for charitable donations and the like. I am sorry I cannot fulfill most of them. I have chosen to focus most of this activity in the space of investments in small businesses in various parts of the world. Many charities contact us as well to donate photos for publication materials and the like. We can do this if there is a 501c designation for tax purposes. You may contact firstname.lastname@example.org in this case. Thank you. Come join Team Stuck In Customs! We do all activity through Kiva and we invite you to do the same! Kiva is a great way to intelligently move money and resources around the world. See below for more!
Charity – Creating Wealth through Entrepreneurship and Kiva
I have lent money to a small potato farm in Peru started by a 25-year-old mom named Elizabeth, a bicycle repair shop in Vietnam managed by a gal named Nguyen Thi Huong, a car mechanic’s shop in Lebanon run by a gentleman named Ali, a small livestock operation in Tajikistan run by a 47 year old gentleman named Tochidin, a small meat market in Ghana run by a 70 year old woman named Ama, a mom named Essi in Togo who sells dried fish, a 24-year-old gal in Ecuador named Cristina who sells rice, sugar, and tuna, and last, a 41-year-old woman in Nicaragua named Gladis who sells cosmetics and jewelry so her children can have a better quality of life. I do these things because I believe in capitalism and free trade more than government. As a strong libertarian, I believe the government typically creates more problems than it solves. Their intent is often to help people, but it rarely does a good job of it. What really helps people is other people, freedom, free trade, cooperation and competition. I believe that a good small business creates wealth. For example, the Elizabeth in Peru buys seeds and small plots of land to produce potatoes. By the time the potatoes have grown, they are worth more than the seeds and the time-cost of the land. Everyone becomes wealthier, happier, and more healthy because of this. So, in this case, money really can buy happiness! In “Trey’s Book List” you can see I recommend a book called “Free to Choose” by Milton Friedman. If you’d like to find out more about this sort of thing from this Nobel-Prize winning economist in a very easy-to-read book, I highly recommend it. If you would like to do the same thing, you can put in as little as $25 to Kiva.org. They are a great organization! You can donate easily via PayPal and you get regular updates as you are repaid. So far, I’m getting repaid at a steady click, so I have NO DOUBT about the system they have in place.
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 there on the right.
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.