Jason Whitman discovered his love for photography and the West as a child growing up on a ranch outside Cody, riding horses and going to rodeos.
“I was constantly exposed to what I would consider an old, classic, western way of life,” he said.
Even then he was shooting with his grandmothers’ Polaroid camera. Now he spends every chance he gets with his digital camera, photographing ranch life, rodeos, landscapes and wildlife.
Whitman’s solo show, “A Celebration of the American West,” is up through July at Scarlow’s Gallery.
Gallery owner Claire Marlow chose the show to coincide with the College National Finals Rodeo and the Central Wyoming Fair & Rodeo.
“He’s got a great eye for capturing the old west spirit,” Marlow said. “He captures things the West is known for, but that you don’t necessarily get to see actually happening.”
Whitman admires many photographers and his mentors include Rick Sammon and David Stoecklein, though his main influences are traditional western painters, he said. He grew up fascinated by the Buffalo Bill Center of the West and works there by artists including Thomas Moran, Frederic Remington and William Henry Jackson, he said.
To capture his own western scenes, he often sets up shoots on ranches.
“I’m always trying to tell a story about the old west with them,” he said.
One story in the show is a cowboy walking his horse in the rain after a long ride in “Giving Him a Breather.”
Whitman’s work has appeared in local galleries including the Nicolaysen Art Museum and Wyoming Veterans Memorial Museum. His images also have appeared in Photoshop User magazine and with KelbyOne.
When he’s not photographing, you can often find him skiing, at a rodeo or working his day job as an optometrist.
That’s a passion he discovered while studying to become an architect in college. After a trip to his eye doctor for his first corrective lenses, he ended up observing there for a few months, he said. He started both his optometry and photo careers after he bought himself a camera as a graduation present for his doctorate of optometry degree in 2001. They complement one another since both deal with perception of measurement, light and color, he said.
He started photographing landscapes of Indiana and North Dakota while completing residencies. But he was drawn back to the vistas he admired in art and around him from childhood.
He believes Buffalo Bill Cody said it best: “A man can get closer to God out here in the big, free west.”
"A Celebration of the American West"
Jason Whitman Photography
Through July at Scarlow's Gallery, 201 W. Second St.
Opening reception will be from 4 to 8 p.m. June 4, free with cash bar available.
For more about Jason Whitman, go to www.jasonwhitmanphoto.com.