Galen Avery Rowell (August 23, 1940 – August 11, 2002) was a wilderness photographer and climber. Born in Oakland, California, he became a full-time photographer in 1972.
Rowell was introduced to the wilderness at a very young age and began climbing mountains at the age of ten. For the next 52 years, he climbed mountains and explored the wilderness. He began taking pictures on excursions into the wild so he could share his experiences with friends and family. After graduating from Berkeley High School in 1958, he stayed in Berkeley to study physics at the University of California but dropped out after four years to pursue his love of climbing. He was never formally trained as a photographer.
In 1972 Rowell sold his small automotive business and became a full-time photographer. Within a year, he had completed his first major assignment, a cover story for National Geographic. The story, originally initiated by an invitation from fellow photographer Dewitt Jones to help him on an assignment, came about when Jones was called away and Rowell suggested an ascent of Yosemite National Park's Half Dome that he documented on his own. When National Geographic got the pictures, they decided to do a story separate from Jones's and thus Rowell got his start. He pioneered a new kind of photography in which he was not merely an observer, but considered himself a participant in the scenes that he photographed — he considered the landscape part of the adventure, and the adventure part of the landscape...
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