A few rambling notes about Tom Ganner

Born in 1952, and graduating from high school in 1970, I attended American University and the University of New Hampshire where I graduated in 1976 with a Masters of Education in Counseling. I found New Hampshire to be a bit confining, and had heard rave reviews of what was happening out west, so I moved to California despite warnings from advisors that I would never find work there. They were right, and long story short, I found that I had a marketable trade as a mechanic, and eventually moved from Oakland, California to the San Juan range of the Rocky Mountains in Colorado, back to Death Valley where I became a science and computer teacher (digital graphics were my favorite subject). Teaching middle school was rewarding, but in time I decided I had earned my place in heaven and it was someone else’s turn. My wife and I had discovered southeast Alaska, and Haines in particular, backpacking years earlier, bought property and started to build a home, and upon retirement, we made our new home in the northern latitudes.

I have always enjoyed contemplating the beauty of the world, and upon retirement and the advent of the digital age of photography, began to pursue my new avocation. I have been a photography guide and naturalist in Haines for many years now. Recently I have started working independently and focus on brief tours catering to daily visitors and offering an extended photography workshop for the destination traveler that will be more immersive and inclusive of many aspects of photography. These include technical aspects of photography and artistic aspects of photography including the processing and developmental aspects of a finished product of photography. One learns best by doing and teaching, and my new “career” has allowed me to continue to enjoy the best aspects of teaching, and opportunities to hone my craft of photo-graphic art.

It starts by spending entirely too much for a camera. I have owned a lot of cameras, some of pretty decent quality, taking pictures that are relegated to dusty albums and drawers and hard drives. Finally, digital photography comes of age with good SLR cameras, and the decision comes to how much is enough and how much is too much? When you buy the best, it only hurts once. Suddenly, there is a level of versatility and quality that transforms taking pictures to making photographs, transforms snapshots to art, and the relationship with the camera and in turn to the world I see becomes entirely more considerate. And before I have finished paying off the camera I paid entirely too much for, I have bought another lens that cost as much as the camera, and then another camera, that exceeds the reach of the first, and another lens, because there just is no reason to not have the best tool for the job, and you will never know how far the job, the experience of capture, will go until you have the tools to reach that far and that deep.

As a photographer (amateur or otherwise) I find myself looking at the world through different eyes, similar to a view finder. I have always been one to appreciate a landscape, and a lot of my photography is panorama work. I imagine many of us see the world in a large context that goes by rather quickly. As a photographer I find myself looking to find the small framed aspect of a scene or landscape that might otherwise get quickly overlooked within the “big picture” and capture that space in time in order to focus on frames in the world that might ring a note of recognition of aspects of the world we move in.

Ansel Adams rightly said:  “A good photograph is knowing where to stand.” I strive to find a unique perspective of familiar scenes that bring a quality to photos that transcend the usual snapshots that many of us take. A mentor of mine told me long ago: never take a picture from a standing position. Always kneel and look up, or get a little elevation on your subject and shoot down. We all see the world from a standing position, and changing one’s elevation in relation to the subject (or the ground) lends an easy level of interest to photos. I also try to search out locations that allow me to take a picture of what may be a familiar scene from an angle or location that isn’t immediately familiar. Location location location. Space. That, and timing is everything. My best photos are ones that capture a unique light, usually the alpenglow of sunrise or sunset, that brings out the depth of colors in a scene, and accentuates the shapes and depths of space.

And lastly (for now), of course it takes taking a bazillion pictures to come up with the handful that are worthy of your attention. I humbly thank my friends for the kind words they have offered the few successes I have been able to harvest from the chaff that accumulates on my hard drives.



A few notable quotes along the way:


“Photography’s greatest talent, and its biggest responsibility, is to prove that beauty and wholeness are worth preserving.” -Tom Ang, The Tao of Photography

The world itself is an artist of incomparable inventiveness. The craft of the photographer is to recognize its best works and moments, to anticipate them, to clarify them, and to make them permanent. -John Szarkowski, paraphrased from The Photographer’s Eye



and he meant, i guess, that we have almost a fascinating moral and ethical (both!) situation in front of us whenever we “make” something…the acts are rooted in “randomness”…sometimes the reality of our actions just “leap out” and scare us completely, yet if we just hold onto the continuous “devotion” to being there, waiting for a present to be revealed or “shown” to us, then we “catch and release” at one and the same moment….that is the only “content”…it is more circuitous, complex and wildly care-less than we almost ever find the capacity to endure….  -pertinent rambling of my bff Ricardo