Monday, January 19, 2009

Artist Spotlight: Keith Lazelle



Keith has been one of my favorite photographers for years now. I have a piece of his in my home that was given to me by him and his fabulous wife/agent Jane Hall before I left Washington for college in Decatur, Georgia (near Jane’s old stomping grounds). It’s been lovingly toted to all of my various living spaces throughout the last eleven years, and is always hung in a place of honor.

There’s something about the way Keith frames his subject matter feels almost lyrical to me. I’m honestly searching for a way to express his art without falling into rapturous clich├ęs concerning the majesty of the Olympic Peninsula. I’ve always been a firm believer in the inherent magic of the natural world, and Keith’s work visually summarizes so much of what I find stunning about our surroundings in the Pacific Northwest, that it’s incredibly difficult not to get overly verbose here. Maybe its best put like this: There is a lot (a LOT) of mass-market, ho-hum nature photography out there. It’s what I like to call “Doctor’s Office Art”, which to me is the visual equivalent of a supermarket book selection. It obviously sells, but its merit lies more in being noninvasive, ordinary and uncomplicated, than in actually evoking any sort of response from the viewer or reader. It’s a fairly pleasant distraction, at best. Maybe that’s why so many professional photographers have turned to more modern or industrial subject matter over the last few decades – it’s easier to claim “art” when you’re reimagining a highway overpass, or something that no one supposes to be beautiful, and attempting to show us another side of it. Keith, on the other hand, concentrates on themes that no one would ever dispute the loveliness of, but he has the unique ability to capture them in ways that are anything but ordinary in their simplicity. He encapsulates the shifting qualities of nature and reveals them in ways that remind us of why we thought they were beautiful in the first place.


Keith's work has been featured by Nature Conservancy, Seattle Opera, Audubon, Eddie Bower, University of Puget Sound, Alaska Airlines Magazine, Merrill Lynch, Microsoft and Outside Magazine, to name a very few. Visit his website here.

All photos by Keith Lazelle

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