While waiting to meet Jeff Mitchum for the first time, I found myself wandering through his gallery at Bellagio completely engrossed in the images before me. Being an avid traveler and knowing the impact a place can have on a soul, it was clear that whoever took the time and effort to capture these moments had a true passion for life. It was hard to choose a favorite, but the photo that stole my heart was called “Odysea.” The image shows the sun dipping into vast water, backed by clouds carrying brilliant shades of red; the pilings of a once great pier stretch into the sea and seem to welcome travelers returning from faraway lands and long-lasting journeys. Recently settling in Las Vegas after years of traveling and becoming a mother for the first time, the image connected to an inner feeling I had of finally “coming home.” For me, to say the least, the image and title was perfectly apropos.

The time had come to meet the artist and he was, based on first impression, exactly what someone would imagine him to be; calm, confident and dressed as if ready to go on an adventure at a moment’s notice. Then he began talking about his artwork and his passion rang through loud and clear. To capture “The Man” Jeff rode a bike packed with gear 89 miles into Denali National Park and waited for a moose to wake up from a five hour siesta. He returned to the Eastern Sierras again and again and again before the landscape offered the vision he had imagined in “Third Day.” He endured beating rain and freezing temperatures to capture the lighthouse and brilliant shades of blue in “Skynight.” In fact, the passion for his craft didn’t just ring through, it bellowed from the highest mountain.

In addition to a lovely gift, one of Jeff’s books that he graciously signed for me, I came away from the meeting with a sense of appreciation. The truth is, no matter what you do in life, whether a fine art photographer or a Las Vegas publicist, to have passion for everything you do at each moment is the secret to a fulfilling life. Passion makes everything brighter and when someone shines brightly, they bring everyone around them out of darkness.