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Connecting with Inland Northwest landscapes through photography

click to enlarge Benjamin Powell found inspiration in North Idaho. - BENJAMIN POWELL
  • Benjamin Powell
  • Benjamin Powell found inspiration in North Idaho.

At a very young age, Benjamin Powell had a connection with photography and the outdoors, but it wasn't until four years ago that he put the two together for what is now his lifestyle. Born in Denver but raised in Missoula, Powell grew up fly fishing, hunting and snowboarding. As he was starting to get interested in photography, coincidentally his sister was as well. Not wanting to compete with her, he kept his interest in photography somewhat of a secret, using a disposable camera to capture his shots. "I had a passion for photography, but I never learned it," he explains.

Life would take him into the Marine Corps; he served for four years and three combat tours, excelling as a Scout Swimmer, an elite designation. After getting out of the military, he spent the next three years snowboarding every day.

"Snowboarding was my life. I got out of the military and started teaching snowboarding for the University of Montana at the local mountain, Snow Bowl," he says. "From there, I pretty much lived on snow. I have five snowflake tattoos, which represent each year I snowboarded every day."

For the next few years, his life would start to transform into the one he leads now. He received a gift, a book about the secrets of digital photographers, and would use his phone as a camera on adventures around the country. While visiting his grandmother, she asked him what he would do if he had been given an extra $2,000. His response was easy: "I'd buy a camera." Sadly, she passed away; to his surprise, she left him $3,000. He finally was able to buy a camera that would take the shots he had been visualizing his entire life.

When Powell is in shooting/artistic mode, he's constantly planning. "I put a lot of planning into getting the right shot," he explains. "I study a place. I use apps and mapping software, like Google Earth, that show when the sun might be setting, and where it might be shining in relationship to the landscape. I really look for compositionally correct places."

Powell's photographs give viewers the opportunity to connect with the landscapes being displayed. "I hope they will admire my photographs as artwork," he says. "Additionally, I hope they have a connection with the landscape and the experience. I also hope it motivates people to have their own experience." His biggest client is Kootenai Health, where many of his pieces are displayed. He's also regularly published in Coeur d'Alene's NSpire magazine, where he is the director of photography.

Powell, who has called Silver Mountain his home resort since 2007, now calls North Idaho home: "With how much I enjoy the outdoors, I find that North Idaho provides a solid four seasons and perfect subjects for my photos."

Since moving to the Inland Northwest, he has made great friendships and met the woman of his dreams. He shares his life with Heather, his partner. Before meeting her, he explains, "I had a dream about a girl who happened to be 'Heather,' which at the time, I didn't know who the girl in my dream was."

Outside of running his photography business, "I enjoy reading, hiking and, of course, snowboarding. Really, anything that allows Heather and I to spend time away from the everyday hustle, reminding us of what life is really about." ♦


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