We had the good fortune of connecting with Deirdre Denali Rosenberg and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Deirdre, why did you decide to pursue a creative path?
From the time I was really young it was quite apparent that I was a little bit unconventional. No job or career path that was presented to me during my school-age years appealed to me, and frankly, they all sounded terrible. I had an extremely hard time wrapping my head around the fact that I might spend the majority of my life working at something that stole life from me, instead of making me feel more alive. I really struggled deeply with that. I went to college for a bunch of various degrees that I half finished. My heart wasn’t in any of it, so I failed. I didn’t even really try. I was just trying to figure out what on earth to do with my life. I had always been deeply in love with photography. I was always the person at the party or show with my camera and I spent a great deal of time photographing the natural world. I just didn’t realize that it could be a real career. I was also told my whole life that I should be a writer, but again, I didn’t understand that I could turn that into something more than a hobby or form of expression. Life happened for a few years and I hit rock bottom in a handful of ways. This gave me an opportunity (a bit of positive thinking!) to totally re-imagine my future and the possibilities of it. While my world fell apart, I was slowly building myself into a person who more closely resembled the person I dreamed of being. I still couldn’t answer what I wanted to do for a career, but I knew for sure that I would do anything to be a professional photographer. There really wasn’t another option for me. I couldn’t stomach anything less. My pursuit of a real artistic career began when I was about 27- a little late in many people’s eyes. But by that point life had taught me that I needed to do this. That I couldn’t half ass my way to happiness and fulfillment. Photography was the only option. It was (and is) the only thing in this world that makes me come to life in the way that it does. And for me, that feeling is what we are here to experience.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
My art is photography. More specifically, wildlife and landscape photography. I focus on high alpine environments and have an ongoing project working to collect data and images of the American Pika. But my most well-known work is with the Red Fox. When I began down this path, it was very important to me that I know my subjects well- individual animals and places. So me and my husband seriously downsized and live in the mountains in a tiny home, where we say we do “homesteading-lite”. This rural and simple life allowed us to afford a bit of land to call our own. And we share this land with lots of critters! So I always say that what sets me apart from others, is that I know my wildlife well. I see them often and I generally know exactly which individual I’m dealing with right away. I know generations of these families. It’s rather special. It allows me to tell the stories of the lives of these animals in a way that few photographers are able to. I use these stories to get people stoked on wildlife! They want to know what happened to this fox or that deer. They become curious about the animals near them too, which is key. The whole point of what I am doing in my career is to get people to care about wildlife. Even if it’s simply because of a cuteness factor- it matters. I tend to focus on cute wildlife, which is part of why I work so extensively with the American Pika and Red Fox. Both animals could use our help and both are super cute and really interesting. It makes me so happy when people tell me they’ve now become obsessed with helping gather pika research (Front Range Pika Project). Or hearing that someone drove slower, in the early hours, when red foxes are most active and likely to be hit by cars. In a big way, this is why I do what I do. It’s for the animals. In 2021, I plan to release my first children’s book. This is a huge, huge dream I have had for years. It’s about the life of a red fox family and uses my photography as the imagery. My fantasy is that this will get kids amped up about wildlife conservation via love for wildlife. I am also writing my first non-fiction work this year, aimed at adults going through hard times. It’s image-heavy and is about my own struggles, finding healing in the wild places of the Southwest. I am so excited about these projects. They are a culmination of everything I have learned on this very winding path. With all of my work, I try to spark hope, fantasy, imagination and magic. I believe deeply that if we could all maintain a sense of childhood wonder, we’d all be a lot better off. In my photography, you may sense a fairytale vibe, something enchanting. And it’s all quite intentional. Our world is amazing and I think I convey it through dreamy wilderness scenes and the secret lives of animals. My hope is that through this unique storytelling, people are inspired to chase dreams and care about our planet and the beings on it.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
If my best friend were visiting for a week, we would absolutely spend that week deep in the wilderness. Colorado is an amazing state with endless possibilities, but I have tunnel vision for the mountains and have never been much for cities. So me and this friend would backpack into the rugged mountains near my home to find solitude, peace and wonder. To see the night sky in all its glory. And to just be. That stillness of wild places- that’s what I would take my friend to.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
The main human who I must shout out is my husband, Jon Rosenberg. We had a whirlwind relationship that became a marriage after just a few months after meeting. This man, from the start, encouraged me to dream big and to really go for it. In the beginning, he worked two fulltime jobs, a part time job and a freelance job to support us while I worked on my photography without pay. While he worked endlessly to keep us afloat, he also invented products and started a company- Cold Case Gear. These products use NASA technology to insulate my camera batteries in extreme cold. And it’s just wild to think that this company began when he was working soooo many hours for me. And this product was also for me. I am often overwhelmed by what he has done for me.