This year, for the third time, local photographer Steve Snyder’s work will appear on a Wagon Days poster.
“We’re happy to feature him as the artist once again,” said Wagon Days event coordinator Heather Lamonica-Deckard. “His ore wagons are such an impressive image. It’s been a favorite subject of his for a long time.”
Lamonica-Deckard said Snyder’s photographs were chosen by a unanimous vote of the 12 volunteer members on the Wagon Days committee. She said Snyder had submitted the photos last year, when another work was chosen. She said the committee commonly has a backlog of submitted art.
“Every piece that comes in is so worthwhile—any of them could be a Wagon Days poster,” she said.
Over the past decade, photographs have become more common for Wagon Days posters, and Lamonica-Deckard said Snyder’s five images seemed just right for the event’s 55th anniversary.
Sitting in front of a wall full of his photographs in the Gallery Down Under in Ketchum, Snyder said he’s always liked creating images of old things. He said he grew up in Northern California near what was perhaps the second steam sawmill in the state.
“The history that I grew up with is what I’ve always been emotionally drawn to,” he said. “It just felt like home whenever I could find antiquity.”
Snyder said Ketchum felt like home when he arrived in 1971. One of the first things that caught his attention were the ore wagons, then parked by the red barn on Sun Valley Road. At that time, there was no museum to house them.
“They were being used, but they hadn’t been restored yet,” he said. “I hadn’t yet seen them in the parade—they were just hunkered.”
He said he photographed them on many occasions between 1973 and about 2008.
The picture of the string of six wagons that appears at the bottom of the poster was taken in the middle of the night. Snyder said he rented a big, powerful flash, opened the shutter of his Hasselblad camera and aimed the flash at each wagon, one at a time. Miraculously, the image was caught on one frame as he had envisioned it.
Snyder called the ore wagons “the earliest of the 18-wheelers that we see now.”
“If I look at them and squint my eyes, I can think that I’m up on Trail Creek and I’m camped out under a full moon and the night watchman is watching and there’s a bell on the lead and some of the others are hobbled and some are not. There would be stars and a great splendor of mystery.”
Snyder said he used black and white film when he began taking pictures because he couldn’t afford color, but as he progressed he realized that black and white was right for his goals.
“To me, color is compositionally manipulative,” he said. “Black and white has to be core, has to be its own truth. I think that there is more of a core of honesty with black and white.”
Greg Moore: firstname.lastname@example.org
Public can buy Wagon Days poster
The 2013 Wagon Days poster is for sale at the Ketchum Visitor Center, City Hall and Chateau Drug & True Value Hardware, for $25 signed and $20 unsigned. Steve Snyder will be signing posters at the Ketchum Town Square on Wednesday, Aug. 28, from 5:30-7p.m.