When Paul Brians moved to Bainbridge Island in 2008, he wanted to find a way to share his new community with his elderly father.
His father couldn’t visit, so Brians reached for his camera. “I started taking pictures of the island so he could see where I was living. I did four photo books, one for each season of the year,” says Brians, who later self-published the collection in a book called “Four Seasons On Bainbridge.”
That was the first of a growing portfolio of books that feature Brians’ photography, including “Natural Bainbridge” (a Bainbridge Island Land Trust project), “Thirty Walks on Bainbridge” (recently updated) and “Gardening with Native Plants of the Pacific Northwest” (University of Washington Press).
You may be familiar with Brians’ photos from those books, his exhibits at the Bainbridge Island Senior Center and his regular contributions to Facebook where recently he has been posting a daily photo to highlight walks. Currents is excited that Brians is going to start sharing his work on this site in a new monthly column.
Brians, 77, had taken photos for many years, but it became a real passion when he moved to the island after retiring from Washington State University where he taught literature, interdisciplinary humanities and world civilizations courses. His book, “Common Errors in English Usage,” is now in its third edition.
On Bainbridge, Brians became active in the Bainbridge Island Photo Club and has volunteered his photography to support the Land Trust, the Rotary auction, the Harvest Festival, the Bainbridge in Bloom garden tours AHB used to organize and other community endeavors.
“I’m not a professional. I do what I like,” he says about his decisions on what to shoot. “Wherever I am and I see something interesting, I take a picture.”
His current camera is a Canon 5D Mark III, but he also likes to use his iPhone11.
“Having an interesting subject is primary,” Brians says when asked what makes a good photo. “One of the things I’m proud of is the moment when I caught something that turned out to be pretty special.”
After he takes his shots, he uses editing apps to refine them. “There are a lot of good reasons to tinker with photos. I don’t do extreme things, so when you look at it, it’s a nice picture, subtle.”
Besides photography, Brians enjoys cooking with his wife, Paula Elliot, reading and traveling. Although he admits, he does most of the cooking. Before the world of COVID-19, they traveled widely with his camera capturing it all (you can see many of those photos on his WSU page). During the pandemic, Brians’ travels have been closer to home. He has been documenting the month-to-month changes in his garden and photographing the walks he posts on Facebook.
“Mostly I just do it for fun,” says Brians, “and I enjoy sharing the work with other people.”
Stay tuned for Brians’ first column sharing his work on Currents, the site created by Arts & Humanities Bainbridge to highlight our creativity community and connect you to experiences like Brians’ photography.
LINDA KRAMER JENNING is a veteran journalist who taught at Georgetown University and worked for national magazines before moving to Bainbridge Island in 2017. She currently is a regular contributor to PostAlley.org and is on the board of AHB.