Paul Pryor is a Tucson-based landscape photographer who specializes in producing large format giclee prints on canvas. His primary area of interest is capturing dramatic images of the incredible natural landscapes found across the southwestern U.S., as well as many of the national parks and monuments, and other areas of untouched beauty found throughout the west. All phases of the photography work, including shooting, processing, printing and framing are done personally by Paul.
Growing up in the west, I have always had a love for the spectacular scenery found across the various landscapes that exist throughout the region. I grew up around the Rockies, and always loved spending time in the mountains, but during numerous trips to Tucson as a child, I fell in love with the southwest as well. My grandmother lived in Tucson for several years and we would make the trip from Montana almost every spring to bring her back to Montana for the summer. I was always awed by the incredible vistas of the Colorado Plateau and the southwest deserts, and I loved to dig through her collection of Arizona highways magazines and view the amazing photographs captured throughout the state. I moved to Tucson during my college years, and have since spent most of my adult life here, but also spent a couple years in Cody, Wyoming and five years in Reno, Nevada. The places I have lived in the west and southwest have provided me with abundant opportunities to experience the beauty and solitude that exist in those unspoiled natural places. Over time, the desire grew within me to not only experience those places, but to be able to capture those moments in a way that would allow me to share with others the beauty and sense of awe that I experienced when I visited them.
I grew up with a strong background in art, and a love of drawing and painting, but academic strengths in math and science and a love of problem-solving eventually led me to a career in geological engineering. As an engineer and consultant for over thirty years, I had the privilege of working on projects in many interesting locations across four continents. Throughout my life, my favorite leisure activities have always included visiting places of natural beauty wherever I went, and visiting galleries where I could witness the work of artists who captured that beauty.
My photography journey began as a simple desire to capture the memories associated with my exploration of the natural beauty of the southwest, from the southern Arizona deserts to the Colorado Plateau, with a particular fascination for the many archeological sites associated with ancient Native American cultures. During a weekend trip in 2002 exploring the area around Sunset Crater and Wupatki National Monument in northern Arizona, an afternoon of heavy rain kept us from doing much exploring and led to an impromptu side trip to the Grand Canyon. We arrived just in time to take a few photographs from the south rim just as the rain stopped and the clouds were lifting, and one of those images captured the late afternoon light in a way that really fueled my desire to pursue photography more seriously.
Shortly after that, I took a picture framing class, which was my first exposure to professional matting and framing techniques, and during that process I also realized the need for high-quality printing and the difficulty in obtaining good prints from digital files.
A subsequent backpacking trip to Keet Seel in August of 2005 was a very memorable experience, and the first time I made a concerted effort to shoot an entire series of images focusing a specific subject. The resulting set of photographs led to my decision to take my photography to the next level, and in January 2007, with guidance from a good friend, professional photographer Joel Grimes, I purchased my first digital SLR camera. Joel, who is a world-class photographer and teacher, has had a significant impact on my development as a photographer through his technical advice and teaching, and even more so through his continued encouragement and his valuable insights into the creative process.
Exposure to the unique combination of artistic and technical skills required for digital landscape photography, and a vision for capturing the natural beauty around me, stirred a passion within me that has become an integral part of my life moving forward. I have received a great deal of support and encouragement from my wife, family, friends and fellow photographers along the way, and hope that I can pass those things on to others as well. It has been, and continues to be, an exciting and immensely enjoyable journey.
My goal as a landscape photographer is to create an image that transports the viewer to the location, and conveys a sense of awe and beauty similar to what I felt when I was there in person. My technical approaches to photography and printmaking are driven by the desire to achieve that goal.
I love large landscape images that have the maximum depth of field and are full of detail... the type of images that pull the viewer into the scene. In order to try to produce these large images using a full-frame DSLR, the majority of my landscape photographs are shot as multiple-frame compositions. I use special panoramic equipment to create large multi-frame compositions that cover a wide range of different aspect ratios, including long horizontal panoramas, large square formats, tall vertical panoramas, and everything in between. These techniques result in composite images with larger file sizes capable of producing larger prints with much greater detail.
In addition to creating large images by combining multiple frames using panorama techniques, I am also a big proponent of shooting multiple exposures per frame to accommodate the high dynamic range often associated with landscape scenes. The multiple exposures are then combined to create a single image that captures a range of light that is closer to what the eye sees than the limited range that the camera can capture in a single exposure. I shoot a lot of images of slot canyons and started using this multiple-exposure technique primarily for those types of situations where it is impossible to capture the details in a very dark place which also has some bright light coming in from above, or even a sliver of blue sky visible. Eventually, I started using this technique for most of my images, because the wider dynamic range of light and color, and a greater amount of detail captured across the full range of exposures, almost always results in a better image than can be obtained from a single exposure.
My desire is to capture through the lens a glimpse of the beauty, solitude, and sense of awe experienced in the unspoiled natural places that I have visited, and to preserve on paper and canvas some part of the essence of those unique moments in time. In addition to my love of nature and of being in the field capturing images, I thoroughly enjoy the photographic process from start to finish, and am involved in all aspects of the digital processing, printmaking and framing of my images as well.