And with the 189th pick in the 2008 NFL Draft, the Seattle Seahawks pick long snapper Tyler Schmitt from San Diego State University.

It’s hard to explain the overwhelming emotion in that moment once realizing my dreams had quickly become a reality. The countless hours in the weight room, the blood and sweat left on the field, and the number of years spent perfecting my craft had finally come together. Reaching the top of your profession is truly one of life’s most precious honors, and I was thankful for the opportunity and excited for the new challenges it presented. But unfortunately, soon after training camp I had to undergo a major procedure to correct my back that lead to me being released from the team shortly after. I was disappointed to know that my NFL career was coming to an end and thought to myself, “how can I continue to fulfill a life of passion and drive?” now that my football career has ended.

Nearly five years later, my life traveled down a completely different path. Once I moved back to Arizona, I discovered the beauty and serenity of the Arizona desert and was inspired to become a landscape photographer. The different colors, climates, and textures are all parts of Arizona that I continue to capture in my photography. From the cactus-lined deserts to the snow-capped San Francisco Peaks, there are so many elements of Arizona that are so picturesque.

One of my favorite places to capture images from in Arizona is the stunning landscape of Sedona. In particular, Cathedral Rock, it is a place of inspiration and majestic energy. It is a steep climb at a 600 foot elevation, located off the 89A, this 1.5-mile hike provides some of the best views Arizona has to offer. Similar to my journey in life, there are many platforms and lookouts as you make your way up Cathedral Rock, but the view at the top is truly astounding.

Cathedral Rock is one of four formations in Sedona and is believed to contain a power vortex, which is located in the “saddle” at the top of the mountain. The trails are moderate to difficult, depending on the path you take. I decided to begin my adventure up the mountain in the early morning, so that I was able to hike in cooler weather, which I definitely recommend. The most photographed formation at Cathedral Rock is said to have feminine or magnetic energy, which encourages relaxation. Often times there are people practicing yoga on the mountain, which is breathtaking against the blue sky and contrasting red rock sandstone. I love watching all the visitors exploring – it is such an empowering place to experience.

In the photo above, I was able to capture Cathedral’s beauty at sunset. As you climb up the rock and get closer to the peak, you too can experience the wonders of this beautiful location.  The light shining across the red rocks, the sun peaking through the clouds, and the peace of the natural setting are just a few of the reasons why I find Cathedral Rock so special.

I realized throughout my journey that photography is my passion, as is discovering the unknown and being able to share my adventures with the world. I was once at the top of my profession through the game of football, but being at the top of Cathedral Rock in Arizona with my camera is an achievement that is far more meaningful.

Ty Schmitt was born and raised in Arizona then moved to San Diego to pursue his dreams playing football at San Diego State University. After being drafted into the NFL he moved back to Phoenix, where he discovered his passion for photography. He now spends a limitless number of hours capturing images of the beautiful state and all that it has to offer. Some of his favorite locations include Sedona, Flagstaff, Lockett Meadow, and the Superstition Mountains. To see more of Ty’s work please check out his website at www.tyschmitt.com