It is a dazzling winter afternoon, sunlight pouring through the open main room of her home, when Lopez photographer, Summer Moon Scriver, sits down to talk about her work. Initially, she speaks with hesitation, but soon her speech quickens into a musical cadence, covering everything from her family and connection to Lopez to her love of portraiture.
“After years of my photography being relegated almost to a back burner, I feel like I’m finally on the verge of seeing my own style emerge, and it’s so exciting. I really hope I’m where I think I am as a photographer, which is at that point where my photography starts to bloom.”
Scriver’s excitement is infectious as she ranges widely in her conversation. Jumping topics, she begins relating how both Cosmos, her elder son, and Rio, who is about three and a half years younger than Cosmos, were both born on the land where we’re now talking. “I moved to Lopez when I was 5, went to school here through high school, and now my boys are growing up here, experiencing the same strong sense of community that I’ve been sustained by for my whole life.”
The story of her development as a photographer, the first student to use the new darkroom in Steve Adams’ Science and Technology classroom at Lopez School, begins with her learning from the few books she could find, as well as from trial and error. “There wasn’t anyone teaching photography at the school then,” Scriver says, “so somewhere along the line, I ended up figuring it out. Along with that, my Grandpa from Alaska, who had purchased equipment and built his own darkroom, learned soon after that he had terminal cancer and gifted me all of his equipment. My father figure, Gregg (Blomberg) has help me build a beautiful darkroom, as well as giving me his continued support.”
Ten years later, Scriver, along with Lopez author, Iris Graville, witnessed the publication of her first book of photographs, Hands at Work, a collection of lyrical photographs and equally lyrical prose featuring various artists’ and craftspeople’s hands.
To the simple question, “Why hands?” Scriver starts telling how her love of portraiture was engendered by her first travels abroad. “It’s an amazing experience to photograph someone I don’t know in another culture, but it’s tricky. I wanted candid shots, but I didn’t want to disrespect them, either. What I’d end up doing frequently is taking the picture, then talking to the people, telling them how beautiful they are.”
Scriver sees her photographs of hands as another example of portraiture, one in which readers won’t have the temptation to “get caught up in the stereotypes of faces. That idea (not using faces) and the chance to work with Iris made this whole project so irresistible to me.”
Graville originally approached Scriver about Hands at Work because of a show Scriver had done a decade earlier called “Hands of Creation,” a show that was the precursor of Graville and Scriver’s book.
In addition to portraiture, Scriver enjoys working with scenes from nature, being more inclined to do what she calls “close-up, abstract” shots, like a frog on a leaf, than landscapes. She stresses how honored she feels to be entrusted with photographing weddings, family gatherings, and school events such as sports, teams, the prom, graduation, and senior portraits.
This move into what she calls more studio-oriented, posed work, has provided an idea for her newest project, one she hopes to undertake with the person she calls her greatest influence in life, her mother, Irene Skyriver. “We’re planning a show that’s going to feature more staged, studio-type shots, but with an artistic edge.”
Scriver, whose work has been featured regionally, in national magazines such as Mothering and Early Music America, was honored by having her portfolio selected for review by noted photographer, Art Wolfe. Her photos are also currently on display at Tinman Gallery, in Spokane.
— Some of Scriver’s portraits may be viewed at www.handsworking.com or she may be contacted for commissioned photographs at 468-3831 or email@example.com. For Summer Moon Scriver, it’s not work; it’s pure, dazzling excitement, a blessing like sunshine on a winter afternoon.