Artist Profile: Robyn Minkler

  • Fri Sep 3rd, 2010 11:54pm
  • Life
Clockwise from bottom left: Glacier

Clockwise from bottom left: Glacier

Aquiet certainty imbues the work of Lopez photographer Robyn Minkler.

Consider his photos currently on display at the Lopez Island Library. The images are deliberate, contemplative views of the natural world.

“I’m drawn to the textures and contrasts of the natural world,” Minkler says. While he observes that “photography is, for the most part, a solitary pursuit,” it is one that gives him a way to appreciate the world by, in part, sharing this appreciation with others.

Characterizing his work as “the capture of aesthetic images,” Minkler was drawn to photography the first time he put his hands on an old manual Pentax camera in high school. That camera, access to a darkroom, and a book on the technical aspects of photography began his relationship with this art, though by his own admission, he initially did not take it too seriously. From the very beginning, however, “it was a lot of fun.”

As a student at Evergreen, the opportunity to travel to Chile as part of a class on the political history of Latin America opened new vistas for him artistically, and when he returned to school, he found his “focus had shifted. I began taking all the photography classes I could.”

Upon his return, he also discovered that it was his landscapes as well as other photographs of the natural world, more than his human subjects, which constituted the work he most prized personally. “The photos at the library right now? That’s the work I get excited about creating.”

Evergreen provided him with the opportunity to study under the artist Paul Sparks, the professor who also influenced Matt Groening and the author and cartoonist Lynda Barry.

After graduation, Minkler continued to concentrate on the kinds of subjects which allow him to distill the world around him into what he calls “essential images.”

“There was a point during this period when I was trying to figure out how to pursue photography as a career. At the time, however, that seemed to entail doing a lot of the kinds of studio work that I wasn’t really that interested in.”

In 2006, Minkler was invited by the noted Lopez writer Rob Lyon to submit a photograph to accompany an article he had written for Canoe and Kayak. “Rob has been a generous friend, inviting me along on river trips, and he’s a driving force behind my professional photographic work.”

In addition to Canoe and Kayak, Minkler’s work has now appeared in Fly Rod and Reel, American Angler, and Northwest Fly Fishing.

Talk turns to Minkler’s fascination with lines, textures, and contrasts, as well as his natural subjects. “Water is hard,” he remarks. “It’s elusive and ever changing. Much of my work uses shadows and light and texture to give people another lens to see the world with.”

Minkler points to one of the pictures from his trip to Chile, a landscape shot of clouds and the Grey Glacier in the Southern Patagonian Ice Field.

He calls the photograph “my stand-out favorite from the trip. When you hold it up next to the pictures in my library show, there are a lot of commonalities. It’s the same focus on lines and textures—the abstraction of the natural world.”

It is, however, about more than the act of photographing a subject, “the actual clicking of the shutter,” as Minkler says. “I’ve become a lot more interested in the processing and printing of images. Creating a really nice print, whether it’s in the darkroom or digitally with computer programs and an inkjet printer (as my show for the library was produced) is a hugely challenging and satisfying process.”

Minkler’s show at the Lopez Island Library is scheduled to run through Sept. 24. To discuss sales of his photographs or commissioned work, he can be contacted at or 360-539-8511.

There is in Minkler’s speech and manner the same deliberate character one sees in his photographs, a quality of certainty and a vision of the familiar seen anew, a vision he shares through his camera and his work.