ST. GEORGE– A captain with the St. George Fire Department has proven his skills reach far beyond the flames as he places among top emerging photographers in the nation with his nomination as a finalist in the Eighth Annual Emerging Pro Contest.
Rob J. Hooper, who photographs under the name R.J. Hooper Photography, made it through the first phase of the judging process in the competition. His submission in the fine art category, titled “Snow Canyon Glory,” was selected by judges, earning him a spot as one of nine “Emerging Pro” finalists.
Hooper has been a photographer for nearly 20 years and his work was published in National Geographic five years ago. He managed to get the stunning shot of Snow Canyon during the September thunderstorm that caused flooding throughout Washington County, he said.
“I have visited Snow Canyon State Park hundreds of times during all types of conditions including sunrise, sunset, rain and even snow,” Hooper said. “This particular September morning, I almost had no desire to get up early to try one more time. However, the thunder in the morning had been fairly intense, so I knew the possibility for something was high.”
Hooper arrived about 30 minutes prior to sunrise, he said, and could tell all of the elements were coming together. Shortly after capturing the image, he was in a big hurry to get back to his vehicle.
“I literally ran for my life to get back to my car,” Hooper said. “Lightning was striking all around and the winds were very intense.”
As a finalist in the competition, Hooper was given a Scarlet-X Red Dragon camera to produce an original project and capture five still images over the course of a 30-day period.
The nine finalists submitted their images in November for final judging to determine the grand prize winner who will be announced sometime this month.
Hooper said he is humbled and excited for the opportunity to compete among the top emerging professional photographers in the country. As part of his five-image submission, he said he decided to showcase the beauty of Zion National Park in November.
“I’m focusing on the hidden beauty our backyard has to offer,” he said.
Hooper, who is entirely self-taught with no formal training in photography, said he spends the majority of his time in and around Zion National Park and has developed his style through trial and error.
“I enjoy just roaming the desert looking for opportunities that present themselves,” he said, “sometimes not even capturing any photographs.”
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