ALPENA — Jeff Fairchild grew up with a camera in his hand and loved the outdoors and the wildlife that inhabits it.
Over the years he combined his passion for both to become a professional photographer who recently opened a new gallery in the Center Building in downtown Alpena.
His work has led to some of his images being featured in calendars sponsored by PBS and also earned notoriety by placing high in other photo contests.
“I always had a camera in my hand growing up. I had the Fisher-Price camera and I loved taking pictures with it,” Fairchild said. “I was born in Alpena and my dad was involved with the Audubon Society and the birds and the outdoors as a whole.”
Fairchild said he always had an affinity for art and dabbled in many different methods of creating it. He said photography was the one that was the most fulfilling for him, and prompted him to pursue a career in taking pictures.
“I tried the fine arts, drawing, painting, sculpting, and even taxidermy, but none of it felt right and scratched my itch,” he said. “With photography, especially with digital equipment, I can take photos and use the filters and editing process to be creative. I want to get to the point where someone looks at one of my photos and know I took it. I’m not there yet, but that’s the goal.”
Farchild’s company, Jeff Fairchild Photography LLC, has his gallery conveniently located downtown in the lower level of the Center Building. He said the location is great and he’s hopeful he receives a lot of customers, especially as the peak tourism season begins.
The lines of the gallery are lined with framed photos of familiar landscape scenes from the Alpena area, and many closeups of animals that, with the help of technology, are zoomed in tight so a person can see the most minute details.
Fairchild said he is also in the process of making prints of some of his most popular work, such as the snowy owl that is in Alpena, available for purchase. Getting more involved and working with others in the business community is another goal, Fairchild said.
“I want to work with other businesses and try to get my name out there more as someone who does good work,” Fairchild said. “I want to continue to use high quality products like real wood frames and glass and just create art that people are going to appreciate and want to have hanging on their wall to enjoy.”
The invention of digital photography and quality cameras on mobile devices has encouraged many people to take photographs as a hobby or career. Fairchild said novice photographers can sharpen their skills, and take better pictures by simply taking a lot of photos.
“Take as many pictures as you can. Hundreds or thousands of them,” he said. “Study your appa
cture, shutter speed, and ISO. Take a ton of pictures and see how they indirectly affect each other for different end results. Experiment a little and have fun.”