It’s the rare and lucky person who finds a way to turn an avocation into a vocation.
Randall Hodges is among the lucky ones. Passionate about hiking in the great outdoors and shooting photographs of the wonders he sees, Hodges has become a world-renowned landscape photographer.
His work has been published more than 3,200 times, including more than 300 covers in such diverse publications as Seattle Magazine, Northwest Travel, Nature Photographer Magazine and Hawaii Magazine.
For 15 years, Hodges has hiked the West, logging more than 22,000 miles on trails from the Sierra Nevada to the Olympics.
Regular visitors to Northwest art shows have no doubt seen his work. He had been displaying at 24 shows per year, from Edmonds to Mukilteo to Anacortes.
But now, Hodges said, he’s ready to settle into a more permanent location. And Edmonds is his choice.
The Randall J. Hodges Fine Art Photography Gallery will open at 317 Main St. on Saturday, March 1. A grand opening celebration will continue through Sunday, with wine and snacks, and 10 percent off purchases on orders of $100 or more.
Photography fans who can’t wait can see his work hanging on the walls now at the Red Petal coffee house, 321 Main St., located a couple of doors away from the future gallery.
Hodges said his parents ignited his love of the outdoors when they took him from their Eugene, Ore., home on camping and hiking trips.
Today he and his faithful German shepherd companion Shyla hike together.
Like most photographers, he started out shooting with film, but has made the transition to digital.
He shoots with a Canon 5D Mark III, labeling himself an “in-camera” photographer.
That means he makes all his color and other adjustments in the camera before he shoots the picture; he does no digital manipulation on the computer afterward.
That often requires a heap of patience. Getting the right shot can mean numerous visits to a location – 20 or more, in some cases – before he’s satisfied.
“I won’t shoot a picture just because I’m there,” Hodges said. “It has to be right.”
He generally uses a 24-105mm lens, a tripod – always – and shoots with small apertures and slow shutter speeds.
“When the digital format came out, the competition got a lot stronger,” Hodges said. “There’s a big segment out there who are doing what I call ‘creating’ images rather than ‘taking’ images.
“I’m an old-school purist. That has left me alone as one who doesn’t alter my photos in a computer.”
The patience pays off with rich, deep colors in photos that are sharp and detailed.
Hodges prints his own photos; his new gallery will include a production area at the rear. He offers double matted prints, framed prints, prints on metal and, his specialty, gallery-wrapped canvases.
He strives to keep his work affordable. While well-known outdoor photographers like Peter Lik command prices that sometimes are in the thousands of dollars, Hodges offers limited edition prints under $200. “I believe art should be accessible to all,” he said.
He’ll also print other people’s work, and teaches classes – outdoors, of course – on a regular basis, and will do weddings or other events, but only outdoors.
Once his gallery is open, Hodges said he might have to shut down while he’s out in the field until business permits the hiring of a second person to watch the shop.
But he’s thrilled to be in Edmonds.
“I researched 40 cities for five years,” he said. Edmonds made the short list because of its dedication to the arts and because his will be the only gallery that is dedicated strictly to photography.
His wife Danielle, an IT professional at Boeing, will hold down the fort while he and Shyla are hiking in the backcountry.
But he is anxious to open the doors.
“This has been a dream, to open a gallery,” Hodges said. “I’m happy to be in Edmonds.”
To learn more and see his work online, go to randalljhodges.com.