In the age of digital photography where any image can be manipulated in Photoshop or jazzed up with an Instagram filter, Randall J. Hodges stands apart as an old-school photographer. He uses a style referred to as “All in Camera.”
“I do all the work right in the camera without the use of Photoshop, Lightroom or any other post processing programs. This means I set up the color palette of my digital camera to mimic the old films I used to shoot with Kodak Ektachrome, Kodachrome and Elite Chrome films. What this means is, the image you see in my gallery, on social media or in calendars and magazines is exactly the same as what you would have seen in the back of my camera if you had been standing next to me when I shot it,” said Hodges. He takes great pride in the fact that his work is all his skill and technique and not the result of computer manipulation.
“Walks Far” is his tagline, and it fits Hodges, who on New Year’s Eve 2015 hit 24,901 miles hiked, which is the equivalent of walking around the circumference of the earth. “Hiking is what got me into photography. I have always considered myself to be a hiking photographer. When I first started out I just carried a point-and-shoot film camera and would snap photos of the locations I hiked to. I would often backpack deep into the wilderness for many days, and then bring home my photos to show everyone. I found myself always explaining how much better the views were than my pictures could convey, so I decided to change that. I bought a real camera and learned how to use it, and soon I did not have to explain how amazing the places I visited were; my images could now do that on their own. When people started telling me they looked like postcards and I should do something with that, I decided to become a professional landscape photographer, and as they say, ‘the rest is history,’” he said.
Hodges is just starting his 18th year as a full-time photographer, and he continues to hike between 1,000 and 1,300 miles a year. “I really love to hike,” he said.
Hodges is a well-known regional photographer, and his work has been published in National Geographic, Outdoor Photography magazine, Nature Photographer Magazine, Photo Professional Magazine, Popular Photography, Seattle Met Magazine and many more. His work has been published more than 4,500 times. He recently fulfilled a long-term dream when he published a 208-page, full-color coffee table book, “Images of the West, Hiking Photographer’s Adventures in the Western United States and Canada.” Renowned photographer and conservationist Art Wolf wrote the foreword to the book. “I dedicated it to my hiking partner and gallery greeter, Shyla the dog and super hiker, who has hiked about 7,200 miles herself in her 13 years as a professional hiking dog. It covers all my favorite areas of the West with my inspirations for each region and some light photography tips techniques woven in. The book has received rave reviews, and I am very proud of it. This is the first book I have ever published that is all my work, but I have been published over 4,500 times worldwide in books, magazines, calendars, greeting cards, postcards and so much more. I always enjoy being published, but having my own book out is a real dream come true,” Hodges said.
Hodges’ dog Shyla is a German shepherd mix and a loyal hiking companion. “We have never known what the mix is, so I have always said she is shepherd plus awesome,” he said. Shyla has hiked over 7,200 miles with Hodges carrying her own food, water and bedroll during many backpacking adventures. “At the age of 11, I retired her from that duty and now carry the load for her. At the age of 13, she can still put in an 8- to 10-mile day.”
Hodges is very popular in the local area for his photography lessons, which are conducted out in the field. Many of his classes for 2018 are already sold out, especially his Tulip seminars. “My students can expect to learn everything needed to shoot like I do, right in the camera. I will help them get their camera set up correctly, teach them the “old school” techniques, and work with them on composition and light. Many of my students have told me they have learned more from me in four hours than they have learned in their entire life. I get a lot of repeat students. Many, who started with a local class, got their camera set up and learned how to use them, figured what kind of teacher I am, then come out for one of my bigger adventures. I have some students who have taken over 25 classes with me. Not only am I your teacher on my longer adventures, but I am also your tour guide, and I put you in the right place at the right time over and over again! We have so much fun out in the field,” he shared.
Starting out as a photographer you have to pay your dues to build a following. Hodges spent 14 years on the Northwest Art Circuit doing 26 shows a year. A huge dream was to one day open a photography gallery. “I finally realized that dream when I opened the Randall J. Hodges Photography Gallery at 317 Main Street in beautiful Downtown Edmonds. We have now been opened for four years, and I absolutely love having and running the gallery. I have just signed a lease in Cannon Beach, Oregon, and am very excited to open my Second Gallery, Images of the West, the Randall J. Hodges Photography Gallery,” he said. Hodges gallery in Cannon Beach is tentatively scheduled to open in March 2018.
With his experience as a hiking photographer, Hodges has plenty of favorite places in the Pacific Northwest for photography and hiking. He breaks them up by the seasons. “My favorite areas in the Pacific Northwest can be divvied up into time of year. In the winter I love to shoot the Oregon and Washington beaches. In the early spring it’s tulips, tulips, tulips! Mid to late spring it’s forest trails, creeks and waterfalls, and the spring greens are alive and the water is flowing high. In the summer, the only place you will find me is up high in the alpine wilderness of the mountains searching for wildflowers and lakes. My favorite areas for fall color are the east side of the cascades and the Columbia River gorge. Some of my very favorite hikes are Shi-Shi Beach in Olympic National Park, The Wonderland Trail around Mt Rainier, The Enchantments in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness, and Park Butte, Skyline Divide, Sahale Arm and Yellow Aster Butte in the North Cascades,” he said.
Hodges’ gallery in Downtown Edmonds is open daily. To find more information on his artwork and to learn more about his photography classes, visit RandallJHodges.com.