Artist Spotlight Q&A: Photographer Robert “Bob” Reese

Seattle from Kerry Park

Robert “Bob” Reese, a current EvCC photography student, discusses with The Clipper his life, his photography and his desire to capture connections. Reese has known photography was going to be in his life since the first time he held a camera, but it wasn’t until retirement that he was able to make it his focus.

What are you doing at Everett Community College?

I’m pursuing an AA in Photography & Fine Arts. I just got to thinking, ‘I’ve taken photographs for 50 years and there’s been a lot of them in there that aren’t as good as they should have been’. I had an opportunity to do this as a veteran, using my GI bill benefits. [This] made it a great opportunity for me, and so that’s what got me interested and being retired also is a key aspect of it.

When did your interest in photography start?

Probably, in about 1968, my father and mother took my sister and me on a trip to the East Coast. We went to West Point, to Gettysburg, to Washington DC; and my folks had given me an inexpensive Polaroid camera. Being able to take pictures, see them and know that you could take those images home was something that sparked my interest.

What is photography to you? 

It is my favorite hobby. In the last couple of years, my interest has turned toward portraiture. I have a couple of daughters, and they have children. So being able to take pictures of my children and grandchildren is far more enjoyable than those other things I had photographed before. It’s not formal portraiture or snapshots. It’s pictures of them doing things that are important to them. Something that sets them apart from the others and hopefully something that will cause them when they see the photo not only to say, ‘well, there’s one of me when I was younger’ but have a connection to it. 

My website has a picture of one of my granddaughters raising a pride flag, and that’s a very important event in her life. Getting a chance to see her run that up the flagpole and capture that hopefully will mean something to her through the rest of their life. It certainly means a great deal [to] me. My grandson hauled his laptop out to the fire pit when his sister and cousin were taking marshmallows and rather than telling him, ‘no, take that back. You don’t want to bring that out here’ it created a wonderful opportunity for a photograph that we’ll look at and laugh about for years to come.

Do you think photography is more share-able now that it is mostly a digital orientation?

Yes, I think it’s more shareable, but there’s also far more to experience. There’s more than you could ever see. You can pick your genre, pick your interest and go look at it for days. But I think that there’s still a place for museums where you can just walk through and look at something on the wall. Take time, appreciate it all without having to have a digital device to absorb it.

With the current political climate and COVID-19, has the need for art increased?  

I do think that everybody needs something that can grab their interest and keep them focused. Help them put aside their day-to-day struggles or their fears with what we’re facing and be able to do something enjoyable to them. Art, either as someone who creates it or someone who observes it, I think, has a place here today and will continue to be important.

Any positive words for EvCC students struggling during these trying times?

To understand we’re not living through the first major challenge that our country has gone through. Jon Meacham says, ‘We face major challenges like we’re facing now every so many decades. We experience it in the moment and don’t realize that people step-up, establish control, and we move forward in a positive way’ and that’s going to happen now. 

Reese credits EvCC for allowing him to transform what he thought could only be passion projects into his professional line of work. “Make your art, make your dreams. Don’t let your fear of age or stage of life prevent you from where you want to be,” he says.

To explore more of Reese’s photography you can click here.

Artist self-portrait (Robert Reese)