Bruce B. Johnson M.A., Photographer, Outdoor Writer and Consultant
It was the dawn of interplanetary exploration; Mariner 4 was on its way to Mars. That's when the Muse of Photography grabbed me hard.... It was Summer 1964, and I had set for myself the goal of purchasing a quality 35mm camera by the end of harvest season. Long days of picking pears in the hot Southern Oregon sun financed my first SLR, an all-metal, gleaming Konica with a good lens (Click here). That purchase changed my Life.
For many years, I roamed the mountains and deserts of Oregon and adjacent States shooting Kodachrome slides. It was an archival choice of film that still helps stock my portfolio as the new millenium begins; indeed, several of the images utilized within my website were shot back in the Sixties and Seventies and have made the transition beautifully into the Digital Age. Below is an image captured during that first year that I had a good camera. I still easily remember this November climb of Mt. McLoughlin in Southern Oregon-- it's November 30, 1966, we're at nearly 9,000 feet, the winds are brutal, but my Lionel Terray down parka is cozy, and the adventure quotient is sky high. I began my www.OregonPhotos.com website in 1997.
OregonPhotos continues successes: in early 2016, I sold my image of the Gribble Barn near Canby, Oregon. It will be transferred to a wall mural inside the new Canby McDonalds store!
THE HISTORY OF GEAR PROJECT EVOLVES: PHOTOGRAPHY BOOKS, 2006-2015. Chautauqua Award. www.historyofgear website created. Tyra Banks.
By 1998, I had added sections to my OregonPhotos website which reflected my interests in the historical roots of our modern hiking/camping/climbing gear. In 2006 I began work on a book about the history of Frostline Kits of Boulder, Colorado. The book demanded much historical research, interviews with the founder and past employees, and photography. During 2007, the first edition of the Frostline book was published ( first book).. I dubbed the overall project "The History of Gear."
In 2008, I published "GERRY Of Colorado," my second book in the series. In 2009, I was consumed with work on "Holubar Mountaineering," my third book, which was released in November 2009. In May of 2010, the Holubar book was honored as one of the year's best "Local History" productions at Chautauqua in Boulder, Colorado. Since that time, I have published two additional History of Gear books.
Back in June 2011, I traveled to Boulder and Denver, Colorado to speak about the books and the general topic of the History of Gear. For a Swedish persepective on what I've accomplished, read the recent interview with me that the people at "Our Culture" did with me and placed on their Swedish website (it's in English). And what a surprise. The next year, my History of Gear material about Sierra Designs was selected to enhance a section of the new website of famous fashion icon Tyra Banks (TypeF.com). And the next year, I supplied the modern Sierra Designs company with an extensive collection of material about their own early roots under the original founders of the company in 1965.
Late 2012 saw me forging an alliance with a longtime textile industry figure (Doug Hoschek) who was strongly involved in a Made in America gear movement, and had recently opened a store in the city of Bend, Oregon. I helped Doug connect with both Rivendell Packs and with the new Holubar in Italy; both agreed to help stock Doug's shop.
My most recent book release, my fifth, was about the history of one of the Industry's most controversial pioneers, Jack Stephenson, of Stephenson's Warmlite.... Also in 2012-2015, I am enjoying connections within the fashion outdoor world, such as with Andrea Westerlind at "Westlind.com". This led to my attending the May 2014 "Struktur" conference in Portland, Oregon, where I met many key figures in small, fast, crowd-funded gear/garment companies.
Throughout 2009-2011, I was also hard at work on a major History of Gear project with a company in Europe, and in 2011 added a second company in Europe... 2011 also saw one of my soccer images blown up big-time and running around on the sides of the city bus fleet in Olympia, WA. The year 2010 also saw me on the soccer pitch as a State Cup Official Sideline Photographer, and 2012-2015 sees me as the Varsity soccer team photographer at Olympia High School.
In 2005, 2003, 2002, and 2001, I was honored by several first, second, third, and honorable mention ribbons at the Aurora Colony Art Show. Also in 2005, I was selected to provide some 20 images for Oregon.com, one of the State's biggest portal sites..... In 1999, Oregon State University Press honored me by choosing several of my photos, and some of my writing, to grace their two new Oregon reference books: "The Oregon Weather Book," and "The Climate of Oregon"....In early 2005, the national magazine "Weatherwise" used one of my images (click)... In 2002 and 2003 it was fun doing small product photography for a health products company, and agricultural photography for an environmentally-conscious company that makes machines that dispose of dairy cow wastes at giant 5,000 cow dairies.
The year 2007 saw two different engineering conferences in Oregon purchase numerous images from me.
During 2003-2004, I contributed some mountain images to both the Mazamas Mountaineering Club and the Portland area Sierra Club.
In April of 2004, one of my long-time favorite images became a music CD cover when Steve Massey, a Southern Oregon musician, selected my popular "Sisters-Cloudland" image as the cover to his latest CD, "Northwest."
In fall of 2004, an assignment by "American Profile Magazine" reached completion when their story about America's old fire lookouts was published nationwide with my Mt. Pisgah image being the lead photograph. Also that fall, "Astronomy" magazine published two of my photographs about the Oregon Star Party, again nationwide.
Bruce Jackson photography/fine art photography. Over the years, I have been sometimes mistaken for well-known Bend outdoor photographer Bruce Jackson. We are like cousins in a way, with our similar names, similar ages, and similar interests in Oregon's outdoor beauty; we even (for a time) used the same professional lab in Portland (U-Develop, back in the days of film and using darkrooms to print our Cibachrome work). In 2012 Bruce and I discussed our work at the gallery in the Bend Mill District where he displays. His website is replete with his superb images; you should visit it. www.brucejackson.com
MY MORE DISTANT PAST: In 1996 my last child was born. That slowed me down to a crawl in terms of getting out and taking new pictures, but being stuck at home opened a new door--- the story of that door goes back to 1992, when my oldest Son longed to have a computer, a costly series of investments that led to my reluctant computer expertise, and thence to the purchase of a "Domain" of my own, and the Birth of my website presence as OregonPhotos.com, on my Birthday in 1997.
Throughout the 80s and early 90's, I achieved assorted successes while working full time "real" jobs and being a parent--- two calendar covers, a major magazine article in "Cascades East" magazine, some newspaper articles, writing for a food journal, and several postcard sales. Also, a stream of orders from relatives and friends.
My love of Photography had had a dormant handmaiden for many years, and that was writing. At the University of Oregon, I'd been an English Major, and in the early 1990s, those seeds sprouted by the dozen, pushing up freelance writing efforts that led to another series of successes. Some of the writing required the use of historical photography, which sprung open an enchanting door into that vast area of the field of photography.
Semi-Professional recognition for me began in 1980, when I won many photography divisions in County fairs, a Kodak Kinza award, and a major juried Statewide contest that resulted in big dollars and placement of my winter snow photo on all the Ma Bell phone directory covers in the State of Oregon in the early 80s. At this point I include a picture of the camera that I used to take my award-winning "Ma Bell" image. As you can see, it was a tiny, but very high quality 35mm rangefinder camera, going once again to show that "being in the right place at the right time," and with the skills to use what equipment you have on hand, are the most important factors.
During the late Sixties and early '70s, I had the honor to be among the orginating members of the University of Oregon Outdoor Program in Eugene, OR, headed by Gary Grimm (the UOOP)... My website at OregonPhotos.com is an attempt to continue one of the primary missions we had at that time--- to provide a low-cost resource for outdoor lovers, without the boundaries of dues, fees, and qualifications imposed by traditional Clubs. As a leader of many Outdoor Program trips, I took many stunning images of the Pacific Northwest, several of which may be found within this website. I returned to the Outdoor Program in 2005 to give a retrospective celebration of the founding days of the UOOP; of course, via the new technology of PowerPoint!
A word about some of the unique digitally-composited images that you will find within this website---- these flow out of my life long attraction to high places and nightime mysteries, which was enriched considerably when I launched into amateur Astronomy about 1990, building telescopes and taking astrophotos, but, more importantly as a photographer, finding myself up at all kinds of odd magical hours. These times offered creative photographic opportunities that I had not dreamed of previously. I have my father to thank for originally dragging me out into the enormously transparent dark skies of Eastern Oregon, where I first saw the utter magnificence of the full Milky Way as a 15 yr old boy.
Finally it is clear that photography and writing are What I really want to be doing with my Life!
My website and photography exist to share something more profound than just photographic beauty, so let me quote from Walt Whitman, one of the most prominent Transcendentalist writer/poets of the 19th Century:
"...Whoever you are, come travel with me... you (will) find what never tires. the Earth never tires; the Earth is rude, silent, incomprehensible at first--Nature is rude and incomprehensible at first; Be not discouraged--keep on-- there are divine things... I swear to you there are divine things more beautiful than words can tell.."
Another Writer who has greatly inspired me is naturalist Loren Eiseley, in particular his book of essays "The Unexpected Universe," first published in 1964. "The Klamath Knot," by David Rains Wallace has been a more recent inspiration to me.
Jan Vermeer, A Dutch painter from the 17th Century, has had a profound influence on my photographic style, both in the compositon of my initial photo shoots, and later in the work I do within the digital darkroom. Vermeer's extraordinary use of light to evoke exquisitely simple and understated visions of reality is my inspiration. To me, all his paintings are like Visions into another, underlying reality that is infused with a deep beauty and grace. Among his landscapes, I especially like "View of Delft."