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Picture perfect


Local photographer Michael Anderson earns pretigious international awards

by: SUBMITTED PHOTO - Michael Anderson didn't fully immerse himself in photography until he retired.West Linn’s Michael Anderson had always dabbled in photography, ever since he was 8 years old and received his first camera for Christmas.

He had a dark room at his house by the age of 11, but later decided he wouldn’t make enough money as a photographer and instead began a career in federal law enforcement as a computer forensics expert.

Anderson never really gave up on his hobby, though, and in his second career as CEO of New Technologies Inc. he began to experiment with digital fine art photography. The job required a good deal of international travel — from Prague to Singapore and China — and it was in those areas that Anderson found fresh inspiration for his work.

Digital photography was also taking some significant steps forward at that time, in 2003, allowing Anderson to push well beyond the limited constraints of a dark room. Now he could layer multiple “high dynamic range” shots to recreate intricate details, or “duplicate the things you see with your eye,” as he puts it.

When Anderson retired in 2005, he finally jumped full-on into pursuing his hobby. Now, eight years later, he’s suddenly found himself near the top of his field. In August, Anderson had two photos selected for the Professional Photographers of America’s 2013 International Photographic Competition.

This is the second year running that Anderson has had at least one photo accepted at the competition. The international contest features two collections: the General Collection and the more renowned Loan Collection. This year, a panel of 43 judges voted Anderson’s “Sanctuary” photo into the General Collection, while his “Wind Power” made the cut for the Loan Collection.

by: SUBMITTED PHOTO - Michael Anderson's Wind Power was selected for the prestigious Loan Collection at the Professional Photographers of Americas 2013 International Competition.

Anderson’s images will join about 1,800 others in a display at the Phoenix Convention Center Jan. 12 to 14 next year.

“Having anything in there is a big deal,” Anderson said. “But the Loan Collection is the cream of the crop.”

Indeed, just 7 percent of the 5,000 total entries were selected for the Loan Collection, and those photos are later gathered and published in the “Loan Collection” book by Marathon Press.

It’s all been a bit of a whirlwind for the West Linn retiree, who for years was hesitant to enter contests at all.

“I’ve gotten lucky,” Anderson said. “Last year was the first time I’d done a competition internationally, and I got three awards, which is unheard of locally.”

Once he’d retired and committed to fine art photography as a full-time hobby, Anderson joined the Portland Metropolitan Photographers Association. He listened to lectures by professionals and watched the judging at various competitions, then did his best to apply what he’d learned to his own photos.

By 2011, his colleagues were square with him.

“You don’t have any guts if you don’t enter competitions,” they said.

He was “scared to death” as he gathered his best photos and entered a local competition in 2011, and some of his fears were confirmed when he received mediocre scores.

But the judges told him that one photo was reminiscent of work by Ansel Adams, a legendary 20th century photographer.

“That got my attention,” Anderson said.

He entered that photo in the 2012 International Photographic Competition and it was placed in the General Collection. Two other photos made it into the Loan Collection.

by: SUBMITTED PHOTO - A second photo by Anderson, Sanctuary, was also selected for display at the competition.

In total, Anderson earned eight photography awards at various competitions in 2012, and was named member of the year at the Portland Metropolitan Photographers Association.

“All of a sudden I was kind of mainlining this stuff,” Anderson said. “I focused on improving things, doing competitions, donating things to charity — it was kind of a win-win-win.”

Both Anderson and his wife, Lori — also a photographer — have made a point of giving back by donating framed photos to charity auctions. Most go for about $500, according to Anderson, and one went as high as $650.

“The goal is to bring in $10,000 every year in donations for needy charities,” Anderson said. “Since 2005, we have really refined that. There’s lots of need, but my wife and I are pulled toward ones involving kids — Doernbecher (Children’s) Hospital, grief centers.”

To learn more about Anderson’s work, visit artisticphotoexpression.com.