How Photographer Tenley Fohl Caught NatGeo’s Attention

National Geographic discovered photographer Tenley’s photos while conducting Internet research for the book in June of 2014. 

Abroad At Home_National Geographic_Cover_PRE_eg_v3-1 (4) (1)_FINAL COVER_Tenley Fohl Photography
Photo: Tenley Fohl Photography

When we heard that Santa Ynez Valley, California was featured in National Geographic’s latest book release, ABROAD AT HOME: The 600 Best International Travel Experiences in North America,we were thrilled, but not surprised. Santa Ynez is one of those quaint, underrated cities in America that makes us swoon. We know the area well – their extraordinary museums, rustic wineries, and boutique inns draw us to the west coast every year.

Solvang, located in Santa Ynez, is where Danish immigrants settled in mid-1800s. Today’s Solvang and the surrounding Santa Ynez Valley remind us of rustic California, a cowboy town with cultivating gastronomy and culture. The wines are fantastically better than those in any other regions in California, the vineyards are smaller yet bejeweled. Its bakeries are wonderfully Danish, especially in a state that largely fosters the Latino and Asian cultures.

TenleyFohl Photography Portrait
Photo: Tenley Fohl Photography

So how did photographer Tenley Fohl come to be featured? National Geographic discovered photographer Tenley’s photos while conducting Internet research for the book in June of 2014. The publication was originally looking for iconic Solvang windmill shots, but instead chose to feature one of Fohl’s food photography images on the book’s cover, a perfectly plated scallop dish from Buellton restaurant, Terravant Winery Restaurant. They also used one of Fohl’s more representative-of-Solvang photos, of the windmill that sits at the corner of Alisal Road and Molle Way. The windmill is a 1/3-sized replica of a famous Copenhagen windmill!

A little about the book, it “provides guidance on how to take in the best of North America’s international flavor. Spanning the breadth of the U.S. and Canada’s great global diversity, from various cities’ Chinatowns and Little Italys, to Polish, Ethiopian, Russian, and Japanese enclaves, the book transports readers to landscapes and experiences that conjure up New Zealand, Provence and Tuscany, among other destinations” – including the Santa Ynez Valley’s own Danish center of Solvang, which, the book states, is “Jammed with Danish touches from the fairy-tale buildings to the bakeries…”

Yeah, we’re in.

To celebrate the release of the book, we chatted with Tenley about the project, her upcoming book release party, and what’s next for her in the photography world.

We love the idea of finding rich cultural and international experiences in your home country, but which is your favorite city abroad?

Tenley: I am yet to travel outside the US & Canada, but the area I most want to visit is Tuscany.

Terravant Winery Restaurant_Tenley Fohl Photography_National Geographic Abroad At Home Cover Photo_flipped_TFP
Photo: Tenley Fohl Photography

How did you become focused on photographing wine country? What do you love about it?

Tenley: Wine country is where I live & I love it!  The beauty and bounty of it and its lifestyle drew me to it.  I love & respect the agricultural aspect of wine country, as well as all it offers for the area — great events, food, people, scenery, and of course great wine! 

What is the essence of Santa Ynez Valley that you try to capture in your photographs?

Tenley: I try to capture what it is like to actually BE here, and the lifestyle that IS the Santa Ynez Valley. 

Are there areas of photography you have yet to explore in your career that you would like to do next?

Tenley: I have an interest in the agricultural end of vineyards & winemaking, and will in fact be collaborating on an upcoming book put out by Veggie Rescue, a local organization that gleans produce from the local farms & farmers markets to provide organic / healthy meals to local schools, along with charitable and service organizations.   

Where can our readers find more of your photography?

Tenley: They can check out my website, I do both commercial or private photography assignments and projects!

To celebrate the inclusion of Solvang in ABROAD AT HOME, Tenley Fohl Photography will be hosting a Book Release and Photography Exhibit Reception at the Wildling Museum (1511 Mission Drive, Solvang) on Wednesday, March 18, 2015 to celebrate the launch of ABROAD AT HOME: The 600 Best International Travel Experiences in North America.

Event Breakdown: 

The March 18 reception, sponsored in part by Visit Santa Ynez Valley, will run 5:00 PM to 7:00 PM and coincides with the March edition of Solvang Third Wednesday. The reception will be hosted in conjunction with Solvang shop The Book Loft, which will facilitate sales of the book during the event. Tenley Fohl Photography photos will also be on view at the Museum and available for purchase. Buellton’s Terravant Winery Restaurant will proudly provide small bites at the reception in honor of Fohl’s photo depicting one of their own dishes, which graces the cover of ABROAD AT HOME, while local wineries Buttonwood Farm Winery and Lucas & Lewellen Estate Wines will be pouring some of their wines, including a sparkling rendition.

For further information about the March 18 reception, please contact Anna Ferguson-Sparks, Stiletto Marketing, at 1.877.327.2656 or

Follow Tenley on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Lena Kazer

Lena is a Chicago native, her travel style consists of red cowboy boots that make her feel like she can take over the world. She adores Peru and can't travel without her journal to draw or write in.

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