That’s because many of the photos on display focus on the beauty of the natural world: stunning landscapes, amazing animals in their natural habitats, magnificent birds. You’ll also see spectacular still life photography and iconic views of the Miami Valley. Although good photography often captures tragic and heartbreaking images, this group of photographers chose to focus on awe-inspiring slices of life. After years of coping with a devastating pandemic, the new gallery comes at a particularly welcome time.
As well as seeing the work of 11 senior photographers who mostly live – or have roots – within a few miles of Bellbrook, the shop also plans to feature guest artists who will show their work and talk about their personal photographic journey.
These photographers have already had other careers: some have been military or civilian retirees from the DOD, others work in the health sector. There’s a teacher, a paralegal, a DP&L/LexisNexis employee, and the current owner of Oregon Printing. Their time in serious photography ranges from eight to 50 years. Almost all of them are long-time members of the Tripod Camera Club.
Stop by the gallery just to enjoy the art, to hear a lecture, or to purchase a photograph for your home or office. The gallery operates on a wall rental approach. “We don’t have employees, so our gallery is staffed by one of our photographers, which means customers buy a print from someone who understands photography, can describe the process and give advice on how to display and protect the print,” says Jeff Smith, one of four friends who became business partners when they opened the gallery. The others are Bill Welch, Bill Woody and Judd Plattenburg.
A few weeks ago, after a delicious brunch at the popular Blueberry Cafe in Bellbrook, a friend and I headed to an open house at the gallery which is currently highlighting the work of members Bill and Marty Walsh. The married couple have been photographing together for 50 years and share a passion for wildlife and wild habitats. In addition to a range of their regular work on display, the Walsh’s bald eagle images are currently featured in the lobby.
In their fascinating artistic conversation, the two shared their photographic journey. They particularly enjoy photographing birds in flight and traveled to Homer, Alaska to photograph bald eagles snatching fish from Kachemak Bay. They traveled to southern Texas and Galveston Island for the songbird migration and to British Columbia to find and photograph Great Gray Owls.
“Nature photography is all about patience, endurance and luck,” Marty told the audience. The two have shown patience in many remote places: they traveled to Iceland in the winter and headed several hundred miles above the Arctic Circle to a wilderness refuge in the Northwest Territories from Canada. They traveled more than 600 miles on the Amazon River in Peru as well as nearly 500 miles on the Dalton Highway from Fairbanks in Alaska to the Arctic Ocean and then to an island in the Beaufort Sea to photograph polar bears and the northern Lights. This month, they traveled to northwest Colorado to capture wild mustangs.
These adventures are not without risks. “In the wilderness of British Columbia, after photographing a red-tailed hawk’s nest on a very steep mountainside, we were walking around in near darkness,” says Marty. “The ground gave way under Bill’s feet and he fell, cutting his rotator cuff, hitting his head on a rock and breaking some bones in his hand. He carried a large tripod in his left hand and his camera with a 600mm lens in his right hand. It was day three of a 17 day trip and that didn’t stop Bill from continuing to photograph great gray owls and loons with chicks for the rest of the trip. He just needed help.
Meet the other photographers
Smith says the gallery seeks photographers who represent a variety of genres and interests. Here is a brief overview of the other permanent members whose work is still on display:
Available for purchase
If you’re wondering about prices, unframed prints sell for between $35 and $120; framed prints (ready to hang) range from $80 to $800; metal prints cost between $75 and $400 depending on size.
The majority of ready to hang canvas prints available to purchase are prepared at Dayton Art Solutions in Kettering and use pigment inks with a 95 year lifespan. Metal photos are printed using a dye sublimation process.
The huge selection includes over 300 ready to hang framed prints with another 200 ready to frame prints displayed for further browsing. If you see a photo you would like in a different size, this can be arranged and custom orders are also taken. “Recently we had a request for a pelican print,” Smith explains, “We also have several clients who want to figure out what their space will look like with one of our prints on the wall. provided an image of their space, we offer them several digital renderings so that the client can make an informed choice.
The gallery is also willing to provide fine art prints on consignment to companies that may be interested in showing them.
HOW TO GET THERE:
What: The Sugarcreek Photography Gallery
Where: 15 Franklin Street West, Bellbrook
When: 3-7 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Visitors can also schedule a special appointment by texting or calling 937-317-0170. For more information: www.sugarcreekphotographygallery.com or 937-317-0170.
Associated programming: (free)