My photography experiences date back to high school days and a weekly newspaper in Brandon, South Dakota, in the "olden days" as my daughter once casually noted (i.e. 1978). My first camera was an old Voightlander model Dad had purchased 25 years earlier while stationed with the U.S. Army in Germany. The camera required an accessory called "film" which had to be periodically re-loaded into the camera, usually while the winning touchdown was being scored. The camera did not require flash cards, imaging sensors, LCDs, Photoshop, WiFi, or even a battery. Just a good eye and a ready shutter finger.
Having moved to digital photography over a decade ago, I don't miss those days, however. Oh sure, I sometimes reminisce about spending hours in a stuffy darkroom to produce one good print a client would then accidentally use as a coffee coaster, but time and technology march on: today we can crank out 25 coffee coasters in no time!
Today's computerized tools really do give a photographer much greater flexibility and capability to produce images and art that couldn't be dreamed of back in the Age of Film, and I wouldn't go back for anything. (Except possibly to get some of my hair back.) And if you've scrolled this far, you may like to know I've been working as an independent freelance photographer for the past 20+ years with numerous national credits in magazines, books and corporate advertising. Way back when, my work was published in LIFE, National Geographic and N.G. Traveler, USA Today, Reader's Digest, Smithsonian, let's see, New York Times, Weekly Reader, gosh, and my work has also been used by the U.S. Mint, the National Park Service, the U.S. Forest Service, AT&T, Gateway Computer (think coffee coaster) and others. I have approximately 1000 pounds of clippings and tearsheets in the attic documenting this work. If you haven't read the October 1990 issue of LIFE (Sturgis Motorcycle Rally photo) let me know, I must have 20 or 30 copies up there...
Before I began working independently, I was a newspaper photographer (Brandon Valley, S.D. Reporter, and Sioux Falls, S.D. Argus Leader), where I photographed car wrecks, blizzards, floods, droughts, politics and other disasters the editor ordered me to shoot. But I also got to meet and photograph many of the great people of the great state of South Dakota through the newspaper biz.
Later, I was the chief photographer at South Dakota Tourism, where I traveled the highways and byways of the state, and seemingly met and photographed the REST of the people in the state. I learned about a place called the Black Hills, little knowing it would one day be where I would choose to make my home. I'm a 1987 graduate of South Dakota State University in Brookings. While at SDSU, one year I was the photography editor of the campus yearbook, The Jack Rabbit. "State" had a slogan which said, "You can go anywhere from here", and my experiences there did indeed help get me wherever I am today. Why they chose me a few years ago to be in one of their TV commercials featuring graduates such as a past Governor and rocket scientists and the like, I'm not sure. But I am grateful for the experience and the education I gained at State.
Today, I'm fortunate to mostly work on those subjects which appeal to me, and with my wife (and book designer) Camille Riner, operate Dakota Photographic LLC (and its publishing imprint, Golden Valley Press), a small publishing company with books featuring the beauty and history of the Black Hills, Dakotas, Yellowstone and beyond. I also enjoy giving presentations on these subjects for conventions, bus tours, and others who find their way out here to the Wild West. (Sample of my typical program here.) I continue research early explorers, pioneering photographers, and the history of this fascinating and beautiful corner of the world.
I truly appreciate your interest in my work, and am deeply grateful to our readers who make our books possible. You are always welcome to send me an email or visit me at that social networking site with your questions, feedback, comments, suggestions, or answers. Especially answers! P.