Seattle Photography Committee Featured Member - June 2017

Jon Shields is the Seattle Photography Committee featured member for June 2017.
Anita Elder Anita Elder
June 04, 2017

Name: Jon Shields
Hometown: Queens, NY
Member Since: August 1996
Occupation: Health & Environmental Investigator
Favorite Things to Photograph: Things he finds while hiking; landscapes; musicians; the occasional abstract

Show Falls, Boulder River Trail

Shortly after joining The Mountaineers, Jon began attending the potlucks and slide shows – back when most people were still shooting actual slide film! He was drawn in by the friendliness of the group, the talent and artistry of the participants, and the enthusiasm of all involved.

Jon is motivated to get outside and take photos to see first-hand all the amazing stuff that nature has to offer up for our viewing pleasure; second, to capture those amazing moments to enjoy later; and third, to share those images with others, whether fellow photographers or friends and relatives (or even folks on Facebook who he has yet to meet in person) who get to live vicariously through what he captures (and vice-versa!).

Lara Lavi Jones performing at The Bourbon Bar, Columbia City Theatre

Jon's favorite photography committee memory is a toss-up between two vivid memories. One was the first time one of his slides was projected on the clubhouse screen and throughout the darkness of the room I heard lots of folks go “ooh!” – that was satisfying (if, perhaps, somewhat of an ego trip). The second was a time when Jon was volunteering to help students in the Basic Photo class learn how to use their cameras, and helping one particular student understand the relationship between apertures and shutter speeds for stopping action or creating motion blur; He remembered a time several years later when he bought tickets to see the student present his magnificent photography in front of an auditorium full of people in Benaroya Hall as part of his international book tour – that was both satisfying and humbling, and helped to counter-balance that first memory just a bit.

When Jon first started in photography, he was inspired by what he saw in NYC museums, including prints by Ansel Adams and Edward Weston. He also loved the photojournalism in magazines like Look, Life, and National Geographic. A bit later, Jon was inspired by outdoor photographers like Galen Rowell, Art Wolfe, Darrell Gulin, and George Lepp. More recently, Jon has been inspired by photographers like Subhankar Banerjee, Florian Schulz, and Steven Kazlowski, who have dedicated their work to educating the public about wild places and advocating for their preservation, in the footsteps of many of the folks mentioned earlier. Today, Jon is inspired by so many talented photographers out there, some of whom are friends and acquaintances, who like to shoot the same kinds of things that he does.

Barry Cooper performing with Delilah Pearl & The Mantarays at The Fireside Room, Hotel Sorrento

Jon is pretty sure he won some awards for the photography he did for his junior high school yearbook and his high school newspaper and yearbook. In college, one of Jon's concert photos of the 1970s band, Renaissance, was used for a concert tour (anyone remember the angelic Annie Haslam?). More recently, he was invited to speak about his concert photography to both the Seattle Area Photoshop Users Group and the Eastside Camera Club (where far more talented photographers than he have spoken – he's honored to have been in their good company!). Several of Jon's photos were used for the inside cover of a local band’s debut CD (Gregg Curry & Ragged Glory’s With A Bullet), and that may happen again for their second CD – the honor here is that the band’s lead guitarist, Rick Dahms, is a professional photographer, who recently had his portrait of Microsoft’s Steve Ballmer on the cover of Forbes Magazine, and it was initially "his" idea to use some of my photos for the band.

Jon's strength is mostly that he understands the technical stuff and he likes to experiment with all the features that most folks don’t even know exist, let alone understand. He reads the camera manuals cover-to-cover – the only other folks he knows who might possibly be that nerdy are George Lepp and John Greengo (who reads a lot of camera manuals). Their strength is that they also take great photos (Jon's still working on that part)!

As much as Jon tries to be a follower, he always seems to end up a “reluctant leader” (that’s actually a “thing” he's told). Long story...better told to a therapist than to a bunch of photographers.

For over twenty years, Jon has successfully avoided holding an actual position on any of The Mountaineers committees. However, he did not escape unscathed...

Over the years, Jon has been involved with the Seattle Branch Hiking Committee, been a hike leader and taught numerous classes for them. He was also a Mountaineering Oriented First-Aid instructor for around 13 years, a Navigation instructor for many years, took the Alpine Scrambling class and helped as a volunteer for some of their classes, and took the Intro to the Natural World course and participate in the Naturalists Study Group. Back in the days when there were big New Members meetings at the old clubhouse (it was not uncommon for there to be over a hundred attendees), Jon did the narration for a couple of the meetings, so, in a sense, he represented the entire club in welcoming folks to their new adventures with The Mountaineers! Of course, Jon discovered that if you show up regularly for any Mountaineer committee or activity, before too long you’re likely to end up on the committee, teaching their classes, leading their trips, and otherwise getting in over your head (remember that “reluctant leader” thing?). Jon kept a low profile for a while and hid in the shadows and for the first time in a long while, stuck his head out to have a peek, and here he is as a Featured Member!

Photos ©Jon Shields


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