Vail Valley photographer says art form chose him |

Vail Valley photographer says art form chose him

Caramie Schnell
Vail, CO Colorado
Special to the Vail Daily

VAIL, Colorado –When Vail Valley photographer Cody Downard heard he needed a naked photo of himself, and stat, he was a little nervous.

“I am one of the photographers that worked on the 2010 Vail Undressed Calendar and recently they contacted me because they needed an ‘undressed’ photo of me to put in the calendar,” he said.

Needless to say, a naked photo isn’t something he had on hand, he said. He asked his wife to help him and taught her how to use his camera.

“We went out to a very visible spot, in broad daylight, to get the photo,” Downard said. “I was on my mountain bike, so it was a challenging shoot.”

Downard was able to deliver the goods, and on time, even.

Some of Downard’s photos – not the naked one – are on display at Yeti’s Grind in Eagle. An artist reception is set for Thursday from 6 to 9 p.m. Downard took the time to answer a few questions for the Vail Daily.

Vail Daily: When did you know that you wanted to be a photographer?

CD: I began taking photos at an early age, and really loved it, but never knew my hobby would end up being my career.

VD: What inspires you to create? What kind of mood do you have to be in?

CD: Nature, mountains, old barns and bikes inspire me to create. If there are some really beautiful clouds and great light to go with them, that’s even better. I need to be in a calm, content mood – with a coffee in hand – to do my best.

Vail Daily: What does art mean to you?

Cody Downard: Art is something people can experience that touches their emotions and senses. It soothes the soul and makes people happy. All of my photos have a story to go along with them, so my art takes people to same place I was when I captured the image.

VD: Why did you choose the medium that you work with, or did it choose you?

CD: It choose me. Over 25 years ago I snapped my first photo. I used to go with my dad to his triathlons each weekend. Since I was his only option, my dad would hand me his Canon AE-1 camera, and hope for the best. I’m not sure I captured many good images of him back then, but better than your average 9-year-old with a manual SLR camera. I enjoyed other forms of art at an early age, but when I picked up a camera again in high school, I knew that photography was something I really enjoyed.

VD: Describe your style.

CD: My style is defined by the mountain landscape and lifestyle of the west. That’s the best description I can come up with – you’ll just have to come to my show and see my work.

VD: If you were to meet any artist, alive or dead, who would it be and why?

CD: William Henry Jackson. He was the photographer that was part of the Hayden Geological Survey of 1871, which led to the creation of Yellowstone National Park. He brought photos of the west back to the people in the East and convinced them there were beautiful places that needed to be saved for future generations to enjoy.

VD: Where do you sell your art?

CD: I have just recently started selling my fine art photographs. I sell them at the Eagle Art Walk, on my Web site ( and at The Movement Studio (my wife’s Gyrotonic Studio in Edwards, above Wells Fargo)

VD: What would your ultimate photo shoot be?

CD: I have a few: Brown bears during the salmon run at Katmai National Park, heli-skiing in Haines, Alaska and climbing Mt. Everest.

High Life Editor Caramie Schnell can be reached at 970-748-2984 or

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