Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Serendipitous photography

Ketchum photographer stays in motion

Express Staff Writer

"Trees #3" by James Bourret. Photography at The Open Room.

The photographs of Ketchum architect James Bourret are deeply intriguing. They pull you in as you attempt to discern what it is that you're seeing. Bourret's work shows at The Open Room in Ketchum, a contemporary furniture shop that perfectly suits his work.

Bourret, his artist-wife Lucy and their three children moved to Ketchum from California's Bay Area seven years ago to "be in the mountains," he said.

"I had spent a lot of years where photography was my focus," he said. "I had a passion for photography when I was in high school but I got very much derailed. It's a tough way to make a living. It was never about the commercial side but as an artistic endeavor. And I no longer had access to a darkroom. I'd put film in the camera and shoot a few pictures and then forget about it. When the digital thing came along I got all excited again. It became a viable way to make a go of it."

Though Bourret works in several mediums when it comes to photography, he tends to focus on a topic.

Among his recent work is a series called "In Print." Photographs of ripped paper mounded in various forms look from afar like an abstract paintings, but as one comes in close they seem to comment on the world's consumption.

"The images allude to the possibility that we can create usefulness and beauty out of that waste," he said. "At the same time it's about creating new information about this barrage of information that we get every day. The ongoing project will include other recycled materials. We can create beauty out of the stuff we use every day."

His other current project, "Motion" is displayed at The Open Room. An accompanying book on the show is also available.

The photographs are abstract and painterly. Moving the camera swiftly, as in a tennis serve, while taking the shot creates the impressionistic images.

"It's about outdoor beauty," he said. "I've always been motivated to take those outdoor shots (of mountain vistas) but there's something to this. You never quite get what you think you're going to get. It's always a bit out of reach. Serendipitous."

Bourret shows how people see their environment in reality, in motion.

"Humans are a not a passive part of the landscape," he said. "So, I wanted to be more active in the way it's done. It led me to try not for absolute stillness. I look for beautiful abstract images in nature and move the camera across so it's active in the details."

In fact, the images show how the motion of the camera is able to reduce the content to "its simplest elements of color and form."

Despite the active nature of the images, they are peaceful and warm. Mostly taken while on walks near his home out Fox Creek and at the Big Wood River, the shots are mostly of grass, aspen trees, water and riverbanks.

For more information on Bourret's work visit

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