Another strong conservationist, Rowell got his start working on pieces for National Geographic. He looked at landscape photography as an adventure and would even take to rock climbing to get the shot he was after. He is known for setting new standards with film when it comes to depth, lighting
and filters.Taking photographs began as a way to share his high and wild world with friends and family. In 1972 he became a full-time photographer after selling his small automotive business. Less than a year later he did his first major magazine assignment–a cover story for National Geographic.
Galen pioneered a special brand of participatory wilderness photography in which the photographer transcends being an observer with a camera to become an active participant in the image being photographed. His emotional connection to his subject matter came across clearly in his early mountain climbing photographs that first drew public recognition, but his landscape imagery, often made on the same adventures, has proven even more evocative because of the visual power he created from what he described as “a continuing pursuit in which the art becomes the adventure, and vice-versa.” In 1984 he received the Ansel Adams Award for his contributions to the art of wilderness photography. In 1992 Galen received a National Science Foundation Artists and Writers Grant to photograph Antarctica.