My journey into the amazing world of professional photography came to me well into life – and it was one of the greatest gifts I have received. Ever. The process of honing the technical mastery of my artistry – that which now turns what I first carefully envision, then see through my lens, and finally massage into a powerful image that emotionally moves me and others to the core – literally gave me my life back. Let me explain.
I love people, and I’ve always been a natural at teaching. I began teaching at Walla Walla College in 1972 where I coached men’s basketball and men’s and women’s golf. As my tenure grew, I received my PhD and then served as the department chair of the college’s Health and Physical Education Department for 24 years. Academia suited me and the beautiful Walla Walla Valley in southeast Washington was a wonderful place to raise my children with my wonderful wife, Lynda. Life was not only good, it was great!
In March 2005 a tragedy struck when my wife was killed in an automobile accident. It was the unthinkable that dramatically changed my life in an instant. In the weeks and months that followed, I no longer felt the joy and energy I had experienced through my love of teaching at the college. Suddenly losing your best friend and life partner can do that.
In my search to find a path to heal my broken heart, I attended a photography workshop that was being taught by the gifted avian photographer, Scott Bourne, on the other side of the state in Gig Harbor, Washington. Scott inspired me to get out and explore the landscape and beautiful area around me. I came home truly inspired. I would get in my SUV with my golden retriever and faithful companion, Ali, and together we’d explore the countryside all around the Walla Walla area. I was seeing it as if for the first time through the lens of my camera.
As I journeyed farther north, I discovered the stunning beauty of the Palouse region of eastern Washington. These jaunts were extremely meaningful for me as I dealt with my grief. It seemed as if the beauty of the rolling hills and fields brought a special kind of healing to my soul. I simply fell in love with the experience of traveling the back roads and photographing the wonderful landscapes and barns that I would encounter. I started meeting some amazing people rich with stories that further brought the Palouse to life for me. I had found a new calling – and I was hooked on photography.
I resigned from my teaching position, met and married a wonderfully spirited woman who wholly supported my new found passion, and started what has become a very successful photography business. My passion for the Palouse and eastern Washington has never dwindled as I share that wonderful area with others through my photographs, presentations and lectures. To visit there is like stepping back in time as many of the people have lived in that area for generations. The history as well the beauty of the area continues to inspire me in my life journey. I hope my photographs of this area send the message of my deep love and passion that I feel for the Palouse – because I am forever changed by it and am forever grateful.
I must pay homage to some important mentors who have helped me hone my craft. I initially studied under Scott Bourne at the Olympic Mountain School of Photography in Gig Harbor, Washington. Since then I continue to learn through workshops and seminars presented by Art Wolfe, John Shaw, Rick Sammon, Darrell Gulin, Rick Holt and Scott Kelby. All of these talented photographers have made an impact on me and how I approach the art of picture taking.
Finally, I must acknowledge and humbly thank our wonderful Creator for the incredible blessings of this life, this planet, this universe. One of my favorite hymns was written by Cecil F. Alexander. The refrain goes like this:
“All things bright and beautiful,
All creatures great and small,
All things wise and wonderful,
The Lord God made them all.”
See you on the other side of the camera.
Gary Hamburgh | The Palouse Guy