Meet Rob Decker, Creator of National Park Posters

Rob Decker, National Park Posters

Anyone who has visited a National Park knows what a gift it is to escape our chaotic lives, if only for a little while, and to be surrounded by the most majestic expressions of nature.

There is so much I love about our parks… the red rocks of the Utah parks, the grandeur of the Grand Tetons, the enormity of the Grand Canyon, the solitude of Dry Tortugas, the diversity of Olympic.

And then there’s Yosemite, which holds a special place in my heart not only because it was the first National Park I visited, but also because of all the special memories it holds: camping trips, hikes with friends, family weddings and honeymoons, and my utterly unforgettable summer studying photography with Ansel Adams there in 1979.

As a veteran photographer and graphic artist, I’ve dedicated the better part of my life to capturing and sharing the awe-inspiring splendor of our National Parks.

I’ve also made it my mission to generate awareness of the need for protection and conservation of these treasured natural, cultural, and historical spaces.

By creating iconic posters inspired by the WPA artwork of the 1930s and ’40s, I hope to encourage as many people as possible to experience the wonder and awe-inspiring majesty of our National Parks, to cherish their memories and to help ensure these parks are protected and preserved for future generations.

From Understudy to Preservationist

My fondness for our National Parks dates back to the first time I visited Yosemite when I was 6 years old.

I quickly picked up my family’s love of travel and photography and, by age 8, I had photographed 5 National Parks as part of a 10,000-mile cross-country road trip. My grandfather gave me a 1945 Graflex Speed Graphic 4x5 camera and taught me how to develop film in the wet darkroom we built in the back of my dad’s workshop.

I spent my high school years honing my skills through independent production work and the operation of a successful portrait photography business. When I graduated, I made another epic 10,000-mile cross-country trip visiting the Grand Canyon, Carlsbad Caverns, Shenandoah, Great Smoky, Acadia, Glacier and several other National Parks.

Then, at age 19, I had the opportunity of a lifetime: to study under Ansel Adams in Yosemite.

Adams taught me about lighting, setting and composition, and techniques to use in the darkroom. Together we photographed the Yosemite valley and the Sierra Nevada high country.

It was a pivotal moment in my career — and in my life.

Since then, I’ve visited and photographed 51 National Parks. Some of my photos are even featured in Rand McNally's travel and atlas products. And over the years, I've worked as a photographer and graphic artist with clients like American Express, DELL, Dick's Sporting Goods, the National Association of Realtors, Overstock.com, Stanford University, The Washington Post and many others.

But it wasn’t until my daughter got married that I started making these posters.

Launching National Park Posters

My daughter had asked me to design various items for her wedding: save-the-date cards, table cards, and a keepsake poster that guests could sign. So I went out and captured a series of meaningful images from her life in Boulder, Colorado — the university, Boulder Falls, her favourite natural surroundings. With them I created a suite of artwork we used in the wedding.

The response was so overwhelmingly positive that I was encouraged to do more of this kind of work. I had decades worth of photography tucked away, and the idea just clicked: to marry my love of the National Parks with my photography and design work and my desire to raise awareness of the need for conservation of these treasured places.

I designed and developed a process to create this WPA-style poster, picking up where the masters of that time left off to create a whole new body of National Park poster art for our generation.

I start by taking a series of high dynamic range (HDR) photographs. Then, through digital transformation, I turn the composite HDR photograph into a work of graphic art.

Black Canyon HDR Sequence

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park

Every Limited Edition poster, Artist Proof and postcard I produce is printed in the USA on "Conservation", a 100% recycled, domestically produced paper stock with soy-based inks. And they are printed by one of the greenest printers in America, right here in Colorado.

I also donate 10% of my annual proceeds to the trusts, conservancies and associations working to preserve our National Parks. So when you buy these posters, you’re also giving back.

I’m on a journey to capture all 63 of the National Parks, and I’d love for you to join me as you build and preserve your own special memories.

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