Getting Vertical with Phil Koch: Endless Views of Wisconsin through the Horizons Series

Photographer and DashBurst member Phil Koch of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, has a rebellious streak. 

The breathtaking images in his “Horizons” series break two major rules of composition:

  • Every image is vertical; and
  • Every image has the horizon line almost dead center

Regardless of his “rule-breaking,” the DashBurst community (and millions of others worldwide) truly enjoy his captivating images.


A conversation with Phil Koch


 Every day is a new horizon and the sun always rises…

I had the pleasure of talking to Phil recently. As he thawed out from a morning of working outdoors in the Wisconsin cold, we chatted about his photography and the “Horizons” series. As a person, Phil Koch (pronounced “cook”) is down-to-earth and tells great stories about his photography.

Phil told me that he became interested in photography at a young age. On family camping trips, his father would take hundreds of pictures, which he would then turn into slides. Back home, the family “had to watch slide shows for hours!” – but Phil enjoyed them.

After earning a film degree from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Phil’s first jobs behind the camera involved shooting weddings and portraiture. Later, he began working a “day job,” which required him to drive through rural Wisconsin during the earliest hours of the day. It was these drives that led to the birth of “Horizons.”

One day, it was 5:30 in the morning, and I wanted to figure out how to do a vertical landscape. And so I tried it.

He was pleasantly surprised by how much he liked the picture. A few days later he took another vertical landscape. Soon enough, others followed.

Phil also noticed the horizons cut across the middle of these first vertical captures, but he liked that, too. He does this intentionally for every picture now.

At one point, he was capturing thousands of images a day, then hundreds. Now, Phil’s goal is to get one good shot, every day, without significantly altering his style.

Taking risks goes with the territory

When I asked Phil whether he had a favorite image, he quickly named this one:

Riding the Storm Out

Why? He had to run for his life after taking it!

[You] grab the best shot right before the rain starts…

Getting those “best” shots, Phil has ended up at the bottom of a culvert. He’s also nearly landed in Lake Michigan a few times after crawling out onto ice-covered rocks.

He doesn’t mind though:

I never get bored… Every day you’re moving toward that horizon… The next step is crossing that horizon to see the next horizon…then crossing that one…

Every day is a new horizon and the sun always rises…

Phil on social media

Phil recognizes the importance of social networks for developing a loyal following and fans – but he urges patience. “It takes a while, but it’s so worth it,” he says. And his advice, especially for new photographers:

Post pics: One or two a day, don’t overdo it.

Show [people] who you really are, keep it light, show the beauty of life…there is already too much garbage out there.

Make them laugh – show who you are, be yourself.

With his first DashBurst post, “A Spiritual Calling” (see below), Phil began his journey on our platform by telling us:

Horizons [became] a five year photographic journey turning landscapes into portraits of nature focusing on life, light and an abundance of color presented in a vertical format.

As you will see, the “Horizons” series, which Phil considers “timeless and simple,” captures the essence of Wisconsin’s beauty.


We invite you to enjoy our favorite images that Phil Koch generously shared with us through DashBurst

A Spiritual Calling

A Little More Country

I Would Trade A Thousand Ever Afters

I Wake as a Child to See the World Begin

Into the Shadows of Light


Moments of Discovery

The First Gift

 Passing the Time Away

 Snow Angel

Beyond the Horizons

Fifty Shades of Sunshine

Come Dance with the West Wind

Sunrise Service


If you are interested in viewing or purchasing any of Phil’s images, you can do so at


Originally published on DashBurst Magazine

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