Gazing upon a hypnotic forest in Japan, a long lost garden in London, mystical red rocks of Utah, tiny intricacies of precious snowflakes and so many more, guests of his Park City gallery often want to know the story behind his enchanting photographs. Photographer Bret Webster often gets the question: “Is it planned out beforehand, or does it just happen?” The answer is always yes and yes.
He travels the globe (and his native Utah too) to find areas he’s intrigued by, an idea he’d like to try, or to wait for the moon to rise in an exact spot, but there’s always one major requirement—enough time. Webster explains, “I need to get to truly know a place first; I need to see the sun go up and down several times to simply watch and observe. Before a place will really give up its secrets, it requires you to pay the price.”
Webster has learned that if you remain in one place long enough (one to two weeks mini-mum), natural wonders never fail to happen. A recent shoot in Kyoto, Japan provided the perfect opportunity to capture a challenging, yet captivating nature shot without the usual throngs of people passing through. “I’ll do whatever it takes even if that means waiting for days. And it did,” describes Webster.
In contrast, is his scientific method of capturing the true essence and delicate magnificence of snowflakes. As a trained chemical engineer and rocket scientist, Webster definitely under-stands how to use science to his advantage. One of his methods perfected over the years involves accumulating just the right snow-flakes from the perfect snowstorm and exact weather conditions onto a piece of wool, then delivering them to a camera attached to a motorized micro-positioning system. These precise methods are as mind-boggling as the exquisite beauty of the snowflakes he captures.
“There’s a trick to hearing the
voice of the photo,” believes Webster.
“And it’s a quiet little voice.”
Many find it’s easy to ignore and move on, but he understands that his state of mind during a shoot is absolutely critical. He shares, “I cannot be thinking about bills or tonight’s hot date. I’m constantly monitoring my insides, making sure I’m tuned in to what I’m seeing and what message I might feel compelled to share.”
Webster describes how many of nature’s most beautiful surprises tend to happen at the most inconvenient times—as you’re driving back on the freeway, or clinging to the side of a cliff, but that’s when it’s most important to stop and capture the moment.
“That act of communicating beauty to another, is for me almost a way of
honoring our world, our human existence.”
He believes that as humans we are uniquely equipped to feel and share awe in what he calls “an amazing circuit of communication.” So equipped, in fact, that it’s almost as if we have an obligation to do so. “Our world is not ugly. It’s beautiful and swimming in wonders of all kinds.” His personal and professional message is one we may need to hear now more than ever:
“Beauty heals things.”