We had the good fortune of connecting with Holly Marks and Scott Franz and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Holly and Scott, can you walk us through the thought-process of starting your business?
We were spending lots of time sheltering in place in our basement rental unit last winter because of the pandemic. The atmosphere was grim and gloomy. We started looking through our photos on our hard drives and they brought us a little more peace and hope. We thought that our photos could bring that same joy to others if they were displayed in people’s homes.

We’ve taken thousands of photos of the incredible places we have visited. Some required grueling, monthlong treks into the wilderness. For others, we needed to do research to capture fleeting moments (the sunflowers only appear at the Great Sand Dunes a few weeks a year.) We wanted to share snapshots of the amazing places we visit. Not everyone has the opportunity to visit these places, so we thought it would be special and meaningful to bring nature into people’s homes.

Thus, Gone Hiking Photos was born.

Please tell us more about your art. We’d love to hear what sets you apart from others, what you are most proud of or excited about. How did you get to where you are today professionally. Was it easy? If not, how did you overcome the challenges? What are the lessons you’ve learned along the way. What do you want the world to know about you or your brand and story?
Our art is not highly edited or manipulated. We aim to show the true beauty of the world and don’t think it needs to be enhanced or filtered. Our photos tell unique stories. One gives you a glimpse of a volcano in Oregon glowing pink after an evening thunderstorm. Another captures the surreal sight of sunflowers growing in the middle of some of the tallest sand dunes in North America. It took long treks and a few blisters to reach some of these remote places to get the shot. Our photos transport you to beautiful moments in time, over and over again.

Getting the shot isn’t always easy. Scott wanted to capture a photo of Fish Creek Falls near Steamboat Springs at night. As he waited for a time-lapse photo, he was convinced every small noise in the nearby trees was a moose or a mountain lion.

To get the best angle, sometimes we stand on the roof of a car. Or lay down on our belly in the mud. There are times we would rather curl up in our cozy tent than wait for the sun to set. But it’s always worth the effort to capture the moment.

Holly’s second job is as a high school theatre teacher. Her students teach her to look outside the box and she is so amazed by their dedication and creative spirit. She asks her students to get out of their comfort zones, to try something new, to grow. So Holly is trying to practice what she preaches by starting Gone Hiking Photos.

Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Favorite Hikes in Colorado: -Hiking the dune field in the Great Sand Dunes National Park
-Skypond in Rocky Mountain National Park
-Mount Zirkel Wilderness
-Conundrum Hot Springs
-Longs Peak (Keyhole Route)
-South Boulder Creek

Other amazing things Colorado has to offer:
-Fishing in Waterton Canyon
-Taking a bike ride to Tacos, Tequila, Whiskey
-Buy fresh flowers from VaVaBloom in Denver
-Grab a drink from Oasis Brewing Co.
-Get a hand pie from the Shaggy Sheep

The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Scott: My dad inspired me to find a career as a photographer. On long road trips, he would make several stops to capture landscapes. A 10-hour drive could easily turn into a 12-hour drive.

My mom also taught me to chase my dreams after she started a gallery called Cate Zane in central Texas. She organized my first art show and taught me the joys of sharing my work with others.

I am also very thankful for the many organizations that maintain trails and protect wild places. I volunteered with a Pacific Crest Trail Association trail crew and learned how challenging it can be to build and maintain new trails. It gave me a deeper appreciation for groups that protect the trails that lead me to wild places.

Holly: My family took me hiking and camping as a kid. Through those adventures, I learned to love being in nature. Much to my parent’s concern, I would climb everything and anything and I would scrape my knee in the process. It was the best. I realized how healing nature can be. I wanted to find a way to bring that peacefulness to others.

My dad inspired me when he started his own business, Front Range Counseling Center. He and my mom always believe in me and encourage me to follow my passions.

Thanks to Make A Wish for letting me be a hike leader for the Trailblaze Challenge and sharing my love of hiking that way. Thanks to my friends who adventure with me. I’m glad that Scott is a supportive partner in sharing my love of adventure and photography. We even made it through the John Muir Trail together still liking one another so I am excited to see what the future holds and to take more photos together.

Website: gonehikingphotos.com

Instagram: @gonehikingphotos

Facebook: @gonehikingphotos

Image Credits
Gone Hiking Photos (Scott Franz and Holly Marks)

Nominate Someone: ShoutoutColorado is built on recommendations and shoutouts from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.