Photographer Todd Powell displays work at Arts Alive in Breckenridge
For more than 27 years, Todd Powell has been producing natural and urban landscape images in and around Summit County, taking random road trips around the state to add to his collection of more than 100,000 photos, a selection of which will be on display at the Arts Alive Gallery in Breckenridge through the month of February.
Powell is the artist of the month for the local co-op, of which he has been a member for 10 years, in addition to owning the Powell Gallery in Frisco. He has chosen some new, Breckenridge-specific images from his collection to feature in this show.
“It’s fun when you show new work because you don’t know how people will react. You think, I love this one, everyone is going to love it, then no one loves it,” he said with a laugh. “The one you’re like, oh I’ll try this one, or someone will say try this one, and I think it’s no good and it becomes a best-seller.
“The whole thing is kind of goofy when it comes down to art and people’s interpretation of art. I’ve found it to be nothing but mystifying.”
The motivation for Powell’s photography comes from his lifetime love of the outdoors and a desire to share his perspective of it with others, and his career as a fine-art landscape photographer combines his dual passions for art and nature.
Most of the time, Powell said, he’s creating photos for his own enjoyment, never knowing when a particular image will take on a life of its own. Inspiration comes from scouting missions, scouring the landscape in his car or on his road bike or with his own two feet and looking for new scenes to capture.
“I like to go out on a lot of road trips for four or five days, around the state, places I’ve been and haven’t been,” he said. “Very often I’m hiking or biking, I see places, take pictures with a little snapshot camera. I shoot these big, heavy large format cameras, and you don’t take them on a casual hike or bike ride.
“I scout things, I see things, and when I think the conditions are favorable, fresh snow, weather, atmosphere, I get in my car before sunrise and I pull out on Fourth Avenue, and on my way to somewhere, I’ll stop and see something even more amazing.”
‘THE MAGIC HOUR’
The vast majority of Powell’s photos are captured during the “magic hour,” right before or after sunrise or sunset, when most people are sleeping or eating dinner, he said. Examples of these scenes appear in the photos he’s hung at Arts Alive.
“The sunrise that you saw is from high above on Swan Mountain Road,” he said, referencing a photo shot through with pinks and purples and blues. “It was a really, really cold morning, and it was just magic. Some days, you go out and there’s nothing. I hiked way up there above the road until I found a little clearing. It’s kind of a unique angle; you really only see it from the car, and it was cold. Did I mention that it was cold?”
30 YEARS OF PHOTOS
The Frisco photographer’s images have been published around the world, and a large audience of private and corporate clients collects his fine-art prints. He was recently commissioned to do a series photographing a quarter-mile stretch of private property along the Blue River adjacent to a parcel of open space land.
“Being contained to this quarter mile of river area is interesting,” he said. “I saw that view up there to Peak 8 and the Imperial Bowl and Horseshoe Bowl. I love the quality of the light and shadow on that one because it gives definition and depth to those bowls up there. For a lot of people who are into the bowl skiing, I think that might be an interesting shot for them.”
Powell has shot everything from his natural landscapes of mountain resorts and towns to stock images and magazine spreads to advertising and local scenes for his regular marketing gig with the town of Frisco — a constant stream of photos since the moment he graduated from the professional photography program at Rochester Institute of Technology more than 30 years ago.
“I’m surprised all these years I’m still a photographer, still doing this,” he said. “I keep shooting pictures, can’t stop doing it for some reason.”
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