These days everyone is a photographer. If you have a cellphone, chances are you are carrying around a gallery of selfies, animal portraits, and food still lifes in your pocket. My nine-year old can snap a picture, slap on an insta-filter, and upload it to an online portfolio in less time than it takes me to put a roll of film into my camera.
But, in my view, there is a lot that separates our photographic iPhone chronicles from the work of a fine art photographer. While some established photographers are dabbling in "iPhoneography" with impressive results—San Jose-based photojournalist Richard Hernandez comes to mind—the work of most fine art photographers remains rooted in more familiar and traditional formats. Bend is home to many such talented shutterbugs whose works are on display citywide this month.
The Central Oregon landscape begs to be photographed and photographed well. Local photographer Mike Putnam moved here with his wife Betty in order to capture the "glacier covered mountains, alpine lakes, old growth forests, pristine rivers, and lush wildflower meadows [that] have made for amazing subject matter." Using a large film format 4 x 5 view camera, Putnam creates vibrant photographs that capture the vivid and dazzling hues hidden within the high desert landscape. His intricately detailed prints are on display right now at Patagonia in Bend—see for yourself what the trained eye of a landscape photographer gleans from the scenery of Central Oregon from behind his "big rig" camera.
Also known for his scenic landscapes, globe-hopping cameraman Christian Heeb owns and operates the Cascade Center for Photography—that is, when he isn't travelling the world to capture African wildlife, grimy cityscapes, and indigenous peoples on camera. While his impressive portfolio spans 25 years of his travels to over 70 different countries, his current project captures subject matter closer to home. "999 People of Central Oregon" is Heeb's long-term photography project "showcasing the uniquely diverse, quirky, funny, serious, professional, retired, imaginative culture of Central Oregon." The images depict Central Oregonians against a stark white studio backdrop in poses ranging from serene to sultry to silly—with a myriad of props of the model's choosing. Heeb is the artist-in-residence at Natural Edge Furniture for the month of May; the shop will host an artist reception for the photographer on Friday, May 1 from 5-8 pm.
When young photographers turn their lens on the world, the resulting images are filtered through the perceptions and experiences of their youth. This is evident in the surrealist world of 14-year-old Lexy Potts' exhibit "Odd and Peculiar," on display this month at Townshends Tea House. Her imaginative work juxtaposes the strangeness and beauty the talented youngster finds around her.
"These stories and visions are the things that comfort my imagination... Welcome to my life, odd and peculiar," said Potts.