This Is What Our Art Means To Us
I want to show you the world as you’ve never seen it before. For the last four decades I’ve been capturing unusual photographs of the Old West, southwestern landscapes and wildlife.
Each picture I take shows a unique viewpoint on a potentially familiar scene. Have you ever frozen the moment a bronc tries to throw off his rider? Have you ever seen the individual feathers of a hummingbird’s wings glowing with amazing jewel tones? Have you ever gotten a close up look inside a wave as it crashes to the shore?
I am motivated to capture these moments in time because chunks of our American fabric are disappearing, especially in the Western states. Fewer people are ranchers today than when I was growing up. I’ve seen petroglyphs gradually fade over time and bird species reach the brink of extinction in the blink of an eye. I want to show you these things in a unique way while preserving them through photographs so future generations can enjoy them.
My goal is to create Western and wildlife photographs that are both artistically and technically excellent. I want you to feel as if you were there experiencing the location or event with me. Mastering both the art and science of photography allows me to create images that capture your imagination as well as emotions.
For me, cameras capture a picture, but a true piece of art comes from the photographer. There are two steps to creating memorable photographs on my part: creatively capturing the picture in the field and then transforming the image in Photoshop to match my artistic vision.
Every picture should tell a story. Whether it’s a stagecoach racing to get passengers to their destination before the sunsets or an osprey bringing a fish back to the nest for breakfast, each image should convey a story to you, the viewer. If that story is missing, I haven’t done my job.
For that reason I go to great lengths to create the conditions that help tell the story. I plan for amazing light on my subjects. I scout photo locations in advance. I use color, black and white as well as sepia tone to set the mood in my images.
And when things aren’t optimal for my photo, I use my bag of movie special effects tricks to make it optimal. It might mean creating a layer of fog with a fog machine to produce separation between my subject and the background. It might mean creating a dust storm using giant fans and fuller’s earth. And it might mean dangling over half-frozen waterfalls to create the right perspective. I do everything I can to capture a jaw-dropping photo in the field.
After assessing each photograph on the computer, I then begin working in Photoshop. Maybe I need to add more dust around the stagecoaches wheels or tweak the color of the clouds behind the osprey to highlight the morning sunrise. I keep files of “parts” on my computer ranging from unusual rocks to fantastic clouds or old fence parts and spectacular sunrises. I use these parts to blend with and improve the original capture.
These parts come together to tell the story in the photograph. If it doesn’t feel right, if you can’t immediately understand the photo, I continue to tweak the image until everything gels. At this point I hope I have created an image that is believable and more importantly, unforgettable.
This method has worked well for me over the last 20 years since the introduction of Photoshop. I wouldn’t have imagined such things were possible during my years at Rochester Institute of Technology. I learned the how to shoot and process film, not click and fine-tune in the computer.
In the years following my 1972 R.I.T. graduation I would start a commercial advertising photography business with my brother Gordon, also an R.I.T. graduate, in Dallas, Texas. Our work for corporate clients kept us at the cutting edge of the photo business.
About the mid-90’s we quickly realized that digital images and Photoshop were the future for our industry. We became one of the first studios in Dallas to offer a full digital package to our clients.
It didn’t take me long to discover that Photoshop really set me free creatively in many ways. Shots that weren’t possible during the days of film were suddenly feasible.
Today my work ranges from cowboys to southwestern landscapes. Most recently I have expanded my focus to include more wildlife like ospreys, hummingbirds and crested caracaras. My photos succeed if the image leaps off the paper and transports you to “the moment”.
You will find my work around the United States as well as on my website www.beebower.com. I also post regularly to Facebook, Google+, Pinterest and Linkedin. I look forward to talking with you about our great country and my passion, photography.