Chris Pietsch has won some more photography awards. I'm proud. His folks, Gary and Carol, are proud, and I'm sure his wife Therese and daughters, Tiernan and Delaney, are proud too. Add those sisters, Jaye and Wesley. And, then add to that scores of other Chris Pietsch fans across the West who've known and loved this laid-back, but focused photographer with Sandpoint roots for years.
Yesterday, Gary wrote me a note and told me about Chris' most recent recognition as a shooter of magnificent images.
"Now, I'm bragging," Gary wrote, "but our son Chris just received word that he has won first place in the International Photographer of the Year contest for the picture we used on Selkirk Press's calendar this year. It is the one of the swooping Gray Jay he took at Odell Lake in Oregon during the winter of 2004-05."
"He also came in third in the annual contest for best photographer in Region 11 for newspapers," Gary added. "Jeff Conklin of the Spokesman Review took first in that contest. Needless to say, I'm pretty proud." Yup, Gary, you've got reason to be. We all share in being tickled pink about Chris' accomplishments. Gary got him started with a camera. Later, Chris' early photography activities for me on the Sandpoint High School Monticola yearbook staff first focused on mopping the darkroom floor.
He must've done something right and gotten ahold of a camera in the process cuz in 1974 I asked him to take our wedding pictures. He took the job very seriously for a 16-year-old, shooting dozens of photos at the rehearsal picnic, the wedding and the reception. We still have a few of those photos, in spite of the fact that many burned in our house fire in 1984. Chris' thoughtfulness shined through when he dug up what he could find in his collection to replace the wedding photos we'd lost.
He also visited our newly-purchased farm a few years later and snapped a classic black-and-white photo of me in my braids and hip-huggers and Bill in his jeans and polo shirt, holding a pitchfork between us and standing in front of our new barn. He figured we needed our own Love Family American Gothic. Of course, we lost that photo in the fire, but last year Gary brought me a newly-matted copy as a replacement.
Chris' photographic journey has taken him on to the University of Idaho, where he received his degree. He then went out into the world of news photography. He's now a photojournalist with the Eugene/Springfield, Oregon, area where his photos appear in the Eugene Register-Guard. A few years ago, Chris was at the right place at a sad time when a shooting occurred in Springfield's Thurston High School. His photo package from that tragedy earned him a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in spot news.
Chris' work has also appeared in Newsweek, Time and National Geographic World. While snapping photos for the Lewiston Tribune, he was named Idaho Photographer of the Year in 1986 and Region 9 National Press Photographer of the Year in 1988.
I witnessed more of Chris' creativity last August when his folks celebrated their 50th anniversary here in Sandpoint. Of course, he put together a stirring program. The power-point production was such a "work of heart" on Chris' part that his wife Therese told me she and the girls even left home for a few days so he could work on the project undistracted. The final product brought out plenty of tears among family and guests who viewed it at Oden Hall.
I could tell you plenty more about Chris Pietsch because he's appeared off and on throughout my life----always a favorite with his crazy wit and his caring nature. He's certainly distinguished himself behind a camera, and we're all so fortunate to share in the results. You can see some of that work at www.home.earthlink.net/~cpietsch/frame.html, or just Google "Chris Pietsch photography."
Congratulations, Chris. You're from Sandpoint, and we couldn't be any prouder.
One more note: a couple of other photographers from Sandpoint have been having some fun with their cameras. Chad Berkeley's in Santa Barbara, Calif., while Annie Love's in Seattle. They both have that photographer's eye which gives them a unique take on the image. Annie and Chad were photography students of my sister Barbara Tibbs at Sandpoint High School. Like Chris, they also had a little experience working with the high school publications. So, check out their work at (nnlove.blogspot.com) and (http://offhegoes.net/blog). If the links don't work for clicking, cut and paste 'em in your web address window.
Further note: Call it bizarre, but without knowing about my blog posting for today, the Blogfather, Dave Oliveria, featured one of Chris' photos on his Huckleberries blog today, so check it out. I'm betting you will like it. Go to (http://www.spokesmanreview.com/blogs/hbo/) and scroll down to the swimming babies.