Local photographer Rick Dodson’s first camera was a Kodak Brownie Hawkeye, but his eye for photography didn’t develop until he picked up a Nikon while serving his first tour in Vietnam. “I really started carrying my camera with me everywhere I went during my first tour in Vietnam,” said Dodson. “My clerk went on R & R and I asked him to pick up a camera for me. He returned with a Nikon F, 1.4 50mm lens and after that it never left my side.”
Dodson is exhibiting a collection of his photographs at the Chester Library for the month of December as part of the Chesterfield Center for the Arts Foundation’s “Artist of the Month” program. The exhibit, titled “Closer to Home,” opened last Saturday and will run through December 26. This is Dodson’s second show for the foundation and features photos of several Richmond landmarks, Maymont Park, South Carolina’s coast, Maine’s Acadia Park, birds, Finger Lakes, New York and four special pictures from the Normandy Beaches of France. His first exhibit featured photos from around the world.
“I have enjoyed photography since I was a teenager,” he said. “I’ve had an opportunity to travel extensively during my 21 years of service with the Army and 17 years of service as a Department of Army Civilian. Retired since 1999, I’ve had some additional time to explore Richmond with my camera and capture images of some historic buildings and monuments as well as wildlife. I will exhibit some recent photos of the city and travel sites.”
Dodson switched to a digital camera around four years ago. He currently shoots with a Nikon D5000 with 18-70mm, 55-200mm and 50-500mm (Sigma) lens. Dodson said he takes most shots based on events that occur in and around Chester and Richmond area, scheduled photo shoots with the Richmond Camera Club and travel opportunities with family and friends. “I enjoy shooting pictures in National Park landscapes, animals and other wildlife, especially birds, ducks, geese and human-interest shots,” he said.
Since switching to digital Dodson has amassed around 30,000 images in his files. He said he can shoot around 900 images during one outing. “The hardest part is reviewing the digital files,” he said. “Especially if I’m using the “burst” shutter mode, and culling out multiple shots.”
Dodson uses Adobe Photoshop’s Lightroom4 to import and catalog his photos. “Basically I catalog photos by year, geographical area e.g., Around the House, Family, Kiwanis, Travel, etc. Each of those categories can have sub and sub-sub-categories,” he said.
Dodson said his history as a photographer would be classified as amateur. He had only recently begun offering his photos for sale. Dodson is a member/co-op owner at UpTown Gallery in Richmond. He currently has photos at Crossroads Gallery, Virginia Eye Institute and UpTown Gallery. His education in photography comes from association with professional photographers in organizations of which he is a member (Chester Artists Association, Photographic Society of America, Camera Club of Richmond and UpTown Gallery), full-day workshops with NAPP (National Association of Photoshop Photographers) and extensive reading and self study.
Dodson and his wife, Mary Jo, have been Chester residents since 1976. Since retirement, they both spend their time doing volunteer work at MCV Hospital, the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart, the YMCA and Kiwanis. They have four children and nine grandchildren.