My name is Brekke, and I am (a 27-year-old) originally from Hibbing, a small, mining town in the heart of northern Minnesota's Iron Range. While I currently attend Columbia University in New York, New York, I will return to Minnesota in May with graduate degrees in dentistry and public health (DDS, MPH). Growing up in this supportive, tightly-knit community and roaming freely underneath the pines of the northwoods are what drove my successes, as these inspired and encouraged me to pursue my dreams. I originally began taking photos of home to share with colleagues who had never visited the Midwest and also a means to alleviate my homesickness, or what I like to call “nature deficit disorder,” while living in NYC. This hobby has now transformed into one of my greatest passions.
Although all of my photography to date has been conveniently captured with my iPhone (thank you, Apple), but I dream of shooting with an SLR. The irony of taking photos of the outdoors is that the hard work has already been done for me thanks to Mother Nature. Yet inspiring others to explore the outdoors using the art of photography brings me perhaps even more joy than adventuring through nature myself- which is already quite a bit!
What I love most about the outdoors is that no matter how much time is spent outside, each day, flower, thunder boom, snowflake, wolf howl, and sunset is no less mesmerizing than the last. Each new moment consistently takes my breath away- whether rain, shine, or mystical overcast of grey.
My favorite places to explore by default all lie in northern Minnesota-- from my favorite fishing lakes in Itasca County to the blaze orange mine pits on the Range to the pristine wilderness of the BWCA to the rocky, captivating North Shore. Growing up, my dad would take my sister and I on weekly adventures, and we would attempt to “get lost” merely to find somewhere new to explore. Not only did I fall in love with the thrill of exploring, but I also fell in love with hiking, running, canoeing, kayaking, snowshoeing, cross country skiing, camping, gardening, fishing, hunting— anything and everything that embraces the outdoors and the seasons in MN.
My parents, both elementary school teachers and my greatest role models, taught my sister and me to love and respect the outdoors, to leave only footprints, and to continually ask questions about the world around us. It is no surprise that we both went on to study biology and ended up in medical professions. Yet they also taught us to maintain a healthy work- life balance, and we do so by getting outside (and up north) as often as possible.
There are so many places I have yet to visit, but it has always been the biggest dream of mine to go fly fishing in Banff (and marvel in what is any photographer’s dreamland, of course). The depth of the mountains is incredible alluring, and the pristine blue waters is straight out of a fairy tale. “The mountains are calling, and I must go!”
All of my greatest life memories have occurred outdoors, and I am so grateful to have grown up in arguably the most beautiful place on the planet. Whether catching the biggest fish of my life during a fly-in trip with my dad in remote, Northwestern Ontario, roasting s’mores with my cousins in front of the most vivid, August sunset, or merely enjoying my family's annual Christmas hiking adventure at the cabin, my life is truly measured by the moments I’ve spent with my family outdoors.
Outdoor photography has become one of my greatest passions. Not only does it get me outside at 5AM (coffee in hand), it allows me to share the beauty that is exists in this world with so many others. My dad taught me at a young age that persistence in any endeavor is key— he says, “You can’t buy training like that!” I hear that voice ringing perfectly each time I face trial and error. I am motivated to learn as much as I can about photography as I continue to perfect this skill. This new hobby has awakened me to a new, focused perspective on the world around me, and I am able to appreciate even more just how beautiful this world is. I reflect upon my favorite quote, “No man ever steps in the same river twice— for it’s not the same river, and he’s not the same man.” (Heraclitus) Or woman. And I am just as grateful for this as I am for the ever-changing kaleidoscope that is a Minnesotan, sunset sky.