Paul Brower

Paul_View camera_E WA_1I started taking photographs at about 10 years old when I was given a Kodak 127 Brownie camera to take with me to YMCA camp. By the time I was in High school I was using an old Argus C4 35MM that had belonged to my stepfather.  I was also picking up $1-2 garage sale folding cameras that use film in odd sizes like 620, 116, 616. The local camera store taught me the Sunny-16 rule and I was merrily shooting photos everywhere. When I started college I had a Pentax SP-1000 35MM single lens reflex and several lenses. Then I picked up a used Pentax Spotmatic body and a matched pair of electronic flash units and started shooting weddings.

Soon after I was shooting architectural documentation and real estate advertizing. This led to a need for larger format cameras with perspective correction.  I acquired a twin lens Mamiya camera with wide-angle lenses. It was almost good enough and carried me through a few jobs followed by acquiring a 4 by 5 view camera.  I now use a digital system for art documentation and travel photos, and a variety of folding cameras that use film, plus toy cameras and pinhole cameras I make out of wooden boxes and cans.

Today, other than the art documentation I do as part of my job, I want photography to be what I do for fun, not for pay. The work you see here is play. Much is shot with Holga Cameras, a cheap plastic camera from China that now retails for around $30. The Holga has quite a cult following around the whole world and I’m happy to be a part of that cult. I teach a two-hour workshop on Holgas for the Beginning Photography classes at Western Washington University, and teach ways to modify Holgas for different uses. I have curated a show of photography at Allied Arts of Whatcom County exhibiting work of Holga photographers around the world.

My day job for the last 23 years is with Western Washington University as the Preservation and Museum Specialist. I get to install and light all the shows in the Western Gallery and maintain the collections of the University, with the exception of the Outdoor Sculpture Collection. I can’t imagine a job I would like any better. Western recently acquired through The Washington Art Consortium works from the Safeco Insurance Company and I have had the pleasure of helping to create new exhibition spaces on campus to display this collection.

Previous museum work includes: Tacoma Art Museum, The Museum of Flight in Seattle and The Museum of History and Industry in Seattle.


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