Photographer Randy Bailey: Marin County Profile

Living Desert Baby Giraffe

A Baby Giraffe at Living Desert in Palm Springs

Marin County Photographer Randy Bailey

If you haven’t seen Marin County photographer Randy Bailey’s photos, you’re in for a treat. Randy has been perfecting his craft for many decades now, and his work is absolutely stunning. Many of his most impressive photos are landscapes in and around California, though as a former military pilot he has photographed the world. Randy has the patience to sit for hours, waiting for the perfect light, the perfect moment. I am honored to share some of his perfect moments with you.

“How did you become interested in photography?”

I have loved photography most of my life, beginning with my first camera, a Brownie Box, which was a Christmas gift when I was about 7. I was my high school and Air Force pilot school yearbook photographer, and while I liked trying to capture the personalities of the people I photographed, I was from the beginning most intrigued by memorializing a perfect moment of light and emotion in the landscape environment.

Carneros Magic Light

“Carneros Magic Light” – Randy Saw This Light As He Sped Down the Highway and Stopped to Take This Photo

“How do you capture these amazing images?”

There has always been a thrill in seeking that “aha” moment in nature which I still love to this day. It is important to note that this rarely happens spontaneously, unless of course you are traveling at 70 miles per hour on the highway when you spot a perfect scene. (This happened on one occasion, photo above.) Usually it means setting up on a likely location and waiting for the perfect light, and when it’s magic, there is great satisfaction in being there for the “aha.”

“What was the transition from film to digital like for you?”

I transitioned from my favorite landscape film, Fuji Velvia, to digital capture about a dozen years ago and loved the amazing flexibility offered by digital. In my first serious photo workshop in the early 2000s everyone was shooting film, which meant overnight processing for the critique the following day. This of course was rarely available in the places we wanted to photograph. Now it is some download time before bed and you are ready to go the following morning.

Randy Bailey Cottonwood Sunrise

A Moment of Perfect Light Captured by Randy Bailey – A Cottonwood Tree

“Of all your photos, do you have a favorite?”

I don’t think I have a single favorite image, but fondly remember situations which were especially demanding but provided glorious images. One such, at a preserve in New Mexico named Bosque del Apache, found my fellow workshop photographers and me situated before dawn in an overcast gloom in front of a waterway where we expected Sandhill Cranes to fly in for morning feeding. As the light increased, the overcast began to break and I noticed a beam of light illuminating the landscape and heading for a beautiful yellow cottonwood tree at the water’s edge. I picked up my tripod and gear and raced about 50 yards toward the tree and was able to set up and capture the moment the light beam illuminated the entire tree but no background. That image remains one of my favorites.

Randy Bailey Snow Goose Gaggle

A Gaggle of Snow Geese

“How have you perfected your craft?”

Workshops and master classes are an excellent way to learn the elements of composition and emotion in your own style of photography, not to mention sharing exquisite locations. It’s astounding to be with a small group and see the images people capture that somehow eluded you, and that becomes a lesson in seeing. I have enjoyed workshops in the Olympic Rain Forest, in the Palouse of eastern Washington, Bandon Beach, Monument Valley and Yosemite, to name a few. It is wonderful to be out there in front of all the beauty with a like-minded group of fellow photographers.

Point Reyes South Beach

“What attracted you to living in Marin County?”

In the early 70s I was flying a C-141 Air Force transport home from Vietnam. The airplane was configured as a med. evac. returning wounded soldiers back to the US,  hospital at Travis AFB in central California. As we neared the west coast, air traffic control descended us low over the landscape to clear inbound air traffic to San Francisco and Oakland. It was late afternoon on a spectacularly clear and sunny day, and as we approached the beach the scene that unfolded was pure magic. To the left were the golden fields of Napa Valley and to the right the city of San Francisco gleamed in the afternoon sunlight. Ahead in the distance the Sierra Nevada lay on the horizon. The Pt. Reyes beach below was majestically perfect.Time froze. It was the most beautiful moment, and I thought someday I would have to move from Seattle to this glorious place.  

Several years later I was invited to a 4th of July party in San Francisco, where I first met my future husband. The memory of that flight over the Marin coastline and meeting the love of my life was all I needed to make the move to paradise. That was 44 years ago.

Randy lives in San Rafael, Sausalito and Palm Springs with his husband, Gary, and their dog Harley.

Photo Gallery

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All Images Copyright ©2018 by Randy Bailey