Stephen Penland [stp]
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I grew up in Montana, graduated from Whitman College (BA), the University of Puget Sound (MS), and the University of Washington (PhD) with majors in biology and wildlife science. I served for two years as a Peace Corps Volunteer in the Philippines, and I worked for the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife for 24 years, retiring in 2008.
I prefer landscapes. There are two reasons for my choice of subject matter. I grew up in a family in which alcohol and the unpredictability and chaos it produced were constant themes. In contrast, I find natural landscapes to be solid, stable, and following laws of nature in a predictable way. Landscapes may always be changing; indeed, one of the good aspects of photography is that I can go to a place repeatedly and it is a different photographic experience each time. But this change is within limits and can be predicted, including potentially violent aspects of storms. Tornadoes do not appear out of a blue sky.
Another reason that I prefer to photograph landscapes is that I had cancer in the 1970s, and that experience did away with any sense of complacency about life that I may have had. The silver lining to five years of radiation and chemotherapy is that it is impossible for me to take the beauty of the natural world for granted. Trying to capture the essence of a natural place through photography simply enhances the experience of being there.
In February, 2013, I sold my home and lived full-time in a camper on the back of a pickup truck. That lasted for four months; then I decided I needed a shower. I found a house (with shower) in Enumclaw, WA.