Larry Turner, born in Malin and living there now, is a local treasure.
His photographs of western landscapes, abundant wildlife and his portraits of people he’s met along the way have earned him widespread acclaim and numerous publications. Their dramatic compositions and radiant colors suggest that we live in a world in which nature still wants to dazzle and sustain us, something which we may especially need to feel right now.
Turner began his professional life in the early 1970’s, as a journalist, as the sports and outdoor editor of The Daily Argus-Observer in Ontario, Oregon, and soon after as a stringer for the United Press International, covering stories around the west and in Mexico. During those years he started gravitating toward photography, teaching himself the trade. Taking the leap, however, to freelance photography was “a bold move.”
“I learned that, as in any artistic endeavor, it’s feast or famine,” he said.
There were financially lucrative years, but others, such as 2008 during the economic downturn, in which longtime clients suddenly disappeared. He compares the current period, in which COVID-19 is creating so much hardship, to 2008.
“Luckily, though, I live a simple life,” he said. “I don’t need a lot of bells and whistles and toys to keep me happy and that always helps … when you love something you go for it. Money is not my main deal.”
Over the years, his photographs have appeared in countless books, magazines, gallery shows, newspapers, posters and calendars. Some of the better-known publications include the Atlantic Monthly, National Geographic Traveler, Sunset, Travel and Leisure, Smithsonian, Boston Globe, Denver Post and Gourmet. Oregon Public Broadcasting and PBS featured him and his work in the documentary “Shooting the West.” Range Magazine (published worldwide from Carson City, Nevada) has used his photographs as cover art 23 times and in a dozen hardcover books.
“I don’t even know how many times my pictures have appeared in books” he said, chuckling.
Part of his success is undoubtedly related to how much he relishes being in the outdoors and experiencing the countless experiences it offers.
He walks several miles a day, has traveled on horseback more than 1,000 miles through five states, hot air ballooned into the depths of the Rio Grande Gorge, repelled into river caves in Mexico, fly fished remotes areas in the Yukon Territory, Belize and Alaska and skied “in places where I should not have been.” He’s climbed frozen waterfalls in Minnesota and two summers ago rafted 250 miles through the Grand Canyon.
He is co-owner (along with local writer Lee Juillerat, and other journalists from the Northwest) of www.highonadventure.com, a website where you can read some of his travel stories.
All of those outdoor adventures, however, as much as they have been gratifying, have been in service of finding the next great image.
“I am not separate from my experience,” he said. “The camera is my tool of choice toward bearing witness to my life’s journey.”
He also talks about how the novelist Virginia Woolf noted that we don’t try to “stay the moment” enough — in other words to appreciate the gifts of the moments we are given.
“But that’s what photographers do” he said. “They pay tribute to the beauty and profundity of individual moments and preserve them forever.”