Wilsonville High teacher preserves nature through a lens
For Charlie Hyman, his landscape photographs are snapshots of environmental treasures that he hopes will help encourage people to preserve nature's beauty.
"You can't feel protective of a place unless you value it," Hyman said. "I try to photograph them in a light that makes people realize how precious they are. I have a pretty strong environmental ethic and I'd like to think my photography can at least encourage people to think about protecting these natural places and keep them pristine."
Hyman, a photography, computer science and web design teacher at Wilsonville High School, has a collection of Oregon landscape photos on display at the Starbucks rotating gallery adjacent to the Fred Meyer on 30300 Boones Ferry Road.
The Starbucks gallery has allowed the fine arts program at WHS to select rotating artwork for display. The exhibit features work by students, graduates or faculty who have a connection to WHS, and Hyman's photographs will be on display until Sunday, July 22.
Hyman said his love for photography stems back to when he was 7 and took his first photograph of his sister and her dog. Photography then became his hobby. In 2003, he switched from film to digital when he bought his first point-and-shoot before upgrading five years later. But it wasn't until he attended a photography workshop in California that his interest in landscape photography was unleashed.
His love for the craft remained a hobby until he began sharing his knowledge as a teacher at WHS in 2012. He's also had his photographs on display at the Wilsonville Public Library, faculty art shows and other local coffee shops and businesses since then.
And Hyman's love for travel has made his landscape photography diverse.
"The last few years I've done a lot of photography in California, Washington, Nevada and I just wanted to do an Oregon-only show. We have such an incredibly beautiful state we live in," said Hyman, adding that he's also traveled to places like Vietnam, the Caribbean and Mongolia.
But Hyman said he really values road tripping with his wife and two dogs in their camper during winter or spring break because the weather makes for interesting photographs. He said blue skies don't intrigue him, so he is glad to be an early riser, often getting up to explore at 4 a.m.
"If you want to be a landscape photographer you have to be willing to get up early and stay out late," Hyman said. "In almost all of these pictures (on display at Starbucks) it's either early morning or late evening."
Viewers will note that in basically all of his shots there is an object in the foreground: a creek, house or flowers.
"I think to hold interest and to invite people in, you've got to have something that anchors the foreground so that you can put it into context (with) the environment," he said, adding that he's always looking for light, texture, shape, color and form in his photos. "It really amplifies my experience in nature. I'm not there just to get my bucket list of pictures; it's an immersion in the landscape, paying attention to 'What's the light going to do in 10 minutes? What's going to happen to the sky as the sun goes down below the horizon?'"
Hyman is currently experimenting with mixed media. He makes monoprints, which are similar to block prints where the artist takes a jelly pad that's synthetic and puts acrylic paint on it, before pressing paper onto it. The paper then comes away with a pattern that Hyman said he scans and blends with his photographs.
"I'm just excited about sharing my photography with students and inspiring them to do the same," Hyman said. "I always tell people photography has changed my life and it has because it gets me out more often and it makes me more aware of what's going on around me. I think if I can encourage students to do the same and just think about that, that's my hope and my goal."
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