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Chad Coppess is the senior photographer at the S.D. Department of Tourism.
Chad Coppess is the senior photographer at the S.D. Department of Tourism.
Badlands National Park glows in late evening light after a summer storm, giving the effect of a volcano erupting. Photo by Chad Coppess / S.D. Tourism.
Badlands National Park glows in late evening light after a summer storm, giving the effect of a volcano erupting. Photo by Chad Coppess / S.D. Tourism.
In a self-portrait of sorts, photographer Chad Coppess
creates a trail of light in Black Hills Caverns. Photo by Chad Coppess / S.D. Tourism.
In a self-portrait of sorts, photographer Chad Coppess creates a trail of light in Black Hills Caverns. Photo by Chad Coppess / S.D. Tourism.
Sunset silhouettes buffalo against a building thunderhead on
Ted Turner's Bad River Ranch.  Photo by Chad Coppess / S.D. Tourism.
Sunset silhouettes buffalo against a building thunderhead on Ted Turner's Bad River Ranch. Photo by Chad Coppess / S.D. Tourism.
Sparkling with midday light, a dragonfly rests in the
DeSmet Forest near the Laura Ingalls Wilder Pageant grounds. Photo by Chad Coppess / S.D. Tourism.
Sparkling with midday light, a dragonfly rests in the DeSmet Forest near the Laura Ingalls Wilder Pageant grounds. Photo by Chad Coppess / S.D. Tourism.
Squeals of delight punctuate the sounds of the carnival at
the South Dakota State Fair in Huron.  Photo by Chad Coppess / S.D. Tourism.
Squeals of delight punctuate the sounds of the carnival at the South Dakota State Fair in Huron. Photo by Chad Coppess / S.D. Tourism.

Our State Photographer

Aug 30, 2011

Welcome to the new photography column at SouthDakotaMagazine.com. Feels like I should introduce myself, so here goes.

I stepped into photography seriously around 1979 after my dad borrowed a camera from his office and shot some drag racing cars. I originally thought I wanted to work for Hot Rod Magazine, but soon began shooting for the Custer High School newspaper and yearbook.

A four-year degree in photography from Black Hills State University and an internship with the South Dakota Department of Tourism led me to jobs at newspapers in Spearfish, Sturgis and Princeton, Indiana. In 1993 I landed the fulltime position shooting for South Dakota Tourism and I’ve been here ever since.

If you’ve seen any promotional materials produced by the State of South Dakota or the other tourism organizations in the state you’ve probably seen my photography. I travel year-round attending fairs, festivals, rodeos, etc. and photographing attractions, historic sites, landscapes and wildlife. I also shoot for the Governor’s Office of Economic Development.

In 2007 I began publishing a photography blog at www.dakotagraph.com. It contains tips on when and where to shoot photos in South Dakota, best times of the year for certain locations, and examples of my work.

A few years ago co-worker Scott Howard and I noticed that digital photography had created a resurgence in picture taking, which lead us to co-found the Black Hills Photo Shootout in 2010. With a weekend of workshops taught by knowledgeable local photographers and some nationally-known shooters, the event drew 120 participants from 18 states. This year’s Shootout is Sept. 30-Oct. 2 and will feature a keynote presentation by cowboy photographer David Stoecklein. Check out the details at www.blackhillsphotoshootout.com.

I am constantly brainstorming ways to use my photography to promote South Dakota and the great opportunities here for travelers and photographers. You’ll find my photos in video games, connected to the hobby of geocaching, and in blogs about movies and music concerts.

So what we hope to accomplish with this column is to help you find what all there is to shoot in South Dakota, some tips on how to improve on your photo skills, and most importantly, get you out there shooting. It should complement what you’ll find at www.dakotagraph.com. If you’ve got questions along the way or topic ideas you’d like to see covered, send them this way. I’ll do my best to help everyone get photos they are proud of.

Comments

11:54 am - Tue, August 30 2011
John Andrews said:
It's going to be fun reading your photo tips, Chad. And don't forget to mention your film blog! http://cinemasouthdakota.blogspot.com/
02:16 pm - Tue, August 30 2011
Katie said:
Gorgeous photos, Chad!
07:01 am - Wed, August 31 2011
Gary Marx said:
Chad Coppess is one of the most talented photographers in the nation. With his camera and keen eye, he captures the essence of South Dakota's natural strength and beauty.
09:04 am - Wed, August 31 2011
Bernie Hunhoff said:
i hope Hot Rod magazine doesn't see this and lure you away, Chad. Your talent is one of South Dakota's big assets and we're glad you're here shooting our landscapes.
09:48 am - Wed, August 31 2011
Chad is so amazing! We are lucky to have him and look forward to reading this column!
10:00 am - Wed, August 31 2011
Heidi said:
I am a loyal follower of Dakotagraph.com and ChadsConcertPix.blogspot.com/. Looking forward to reading more here too!
11:28 am - Wed, August 31 2011
Andrea said:
Chad did you have to run through the caverns in the Black Hills to get the light trail. I am not sure how it was accomplished. I've seen other shots in pitch black where they then paint stuff in with light but that fact that there is other light so you can see the caverns has me stumped. Great job on it.

12:34 pm - Wed, August 31 2011
Chad Coppess said:
Wow, thanks for all the compliments everyone. Not sure I deserve all of this, but thanks anyway.

Andrea - No running involved there, just a really long shutter speed. I'll use my next column to explain the set up. Thanks for the idea so I don't have to think too hard about what I'm going to write next.
02:54 pm - Fri, September 2 2011
Emily R said:
I am really looking forward to following this column as I get my start as a student in photography!

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