The Call of the Wild

He Wanted to be a Painter. Instead Art Wolfe Broke the Boundaries of Nature Photography, Turning It into an Art Form.



Mount Rainier, Photo © Art Wolfe


By Jon Marmor

If things had worked out as Art Wolfe, '75, planned, chances are we would never have gotten to see the works of one of the most renowned nature photographers in the world. He would have been spending his time in a high school classroom instead, teaching art.

A double major in painting and art education at the University of Washington, he had pretty much given up on a career in painting after seeing the struggles of his faculty mentors. After all, they weren't making their livings exclusively as painters; they had day jobs, too.

So Wolfe figured he'd teach art, and continue to paint on the side. But just as his hope to be a painter went by the wayside, so did his teaching career. A double levy failure and resulting budget cuts made teaching jobs scarce in Seattle. Then a teachers' strike forced him to consider crossing picket lines as a substitute teacher. If that weren't enough, there was his one year in the classroom:

"I hated it," he says. "I didn't have the patience to put up with teaching and the kids. I would have slugged someone. I only looked at teaching to put bread on my table. I really wanted to be a painter."

So he quit teaching and started spending more time on photography, a hobby he picked up in high school, and shot photos of his favorite subject--the outdoors.


Opportunity Knocks... "I never looked back"
A Mastery of Color and Composition
Controversy over Digital Images
Recent Books by Art Wolfe
Art Wolfe's Home Page

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