Hi! I’m Robel Fessehatzion, and I’m an adventure photographer. I was born in Virginia, the son of Ethiopian immigrants. I was raised in Chico, California, where early exposure to natural landscapes was probably a critical part of my photography journey. Growing up, I often found serenity in the foothills of the northern Sierra. In 2002 I purchased a 3 megapixel point-and-shoot camera to document what I saw, so I could share those experiences with my family and friends. After graduating high school in 2003, I was ready to explore natural landscapes away from my hometown.
In the spring of 2004, I signed up for a guided backpacking trip in Death Valley. During the drive there on Highway 395, I got my first view of the spectacular eastern escarpment of the Sierra Nevada. I was mesmerized by the height and grandeur of its jagged peaks, which made me feel insignificant. Two months later I visited Yosemite for my second backpacking trip, and was deeply impressed by its sights. That experience would be the genesis of a new obsession for me, to explore the Sierra Nevada via numerous backpacking trips in all four seasons. I also quickly developed a passion to capture what I saw; to document or record that serenity and grandeur with photographs.
I took one meaningful photograph that first Yosemite trip, when I happened to be in the right place at the right time. But I realized that I didn’t want to have to depend on luck. With hard work, I developed a creative style that required not only imagination and technical ability, but also, in many cases, endurance and perseverance. Most subjects are located in remote areas, reachable only with multi-day backpacking trips weighed down with camera equipment. Capturing such images in the perfect light requires patience and planning.
I felt compelled to do all of those things to the best of my ability. By 2011, I was intentionally creating meaningful photographs of my adventures in Yosemite and the Sierra Nevada that were successful in evoking an emotional response in the viewer. The scope of my photography grew to include natural landscapes outside of Yosemite and the Sierra Nevada, and eventually included wildlife and cityscapes. I hope my artistic photographs give you a glimpse into how beautiful our world can be through my lens, and inspire you to explore your surroundings.
Robel in Upper Antelope Canyon, Az (2019)