International portrait photography on display in Steamboat |

International portrait photography on display in Steamboat

Photographer Joseph Cosby is holding a solo show at the Depot Art Center. More than 50 of Cosby’s photographs
John F. Russell

If you go

What: Show featuring the international portrait photography of Joseph Cosby

When: The gallery is open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays and noon to 4 p.m. Saturdays

Where: Depot Art Center, 1001 13th St.

Cost: Free. Donations to the Steamboat Springs Arts Council are accepted.

Photographer Joseph Cosby is holding a solo show at the Depot Art Center. More than 50 of Cosby’s photographs, captured from 1970 until this year, will be on display.
John F. Russell

— Here in Steamboat Springs, he’s known as Joseph Cosby. In Mexico, he’s called Jose. And in Guatemala, they call him Chuck Norris.

The tall, bearded photographer, often dressed in cowboy garb, has traveled to the far corners of the world with his Nikon D700, drawing gazes from those curious about the Westerner who confidently walks in their midst.

If it’s a country that’s difficult to spell, that’s the kind of place Cosby would like to be, patiently watching cultural stories unfolding around him.

More than 50 of his photographs, captured from 1970 until this year, will be on display this month at the Depot Art Center.

“It’s always rewarding, as the local arts council, to exhibit a tremendous body of work by a local artist,” said Clark David­­son, arts council executive director.

The show features work from Cosby’s travels in Nepal, Tibet, Kyrgyzstan, Latin America and in Steamboat. Eight collections tell stories historical and personal in nature.

Cosby said he hopes those stories shine through when visitors view the panels mounted on the walls of the Depot.

“I’d like to think they see the story behind it,” Cosby said. He pointed to a picture of an elderly woman and asked how anyone could look at that photo and not begin to form ideas of what her story might be.

Cosby has his version, too.

When he was in Guatemala, he passed that woman every day for three weeks in the village he was staying in. He brought her food and spent time with her, watching her, before he took her photo.

When he returned on another trip, he learned from friends that she had passed away.

Many of the stories don’t end when he leaves that country. A portion of each sale is donated to the education of children in the country in which the image was taken.

Although the photograph might portray only one moment, Cosby’s trips to foreign lands layer experiences upon one another, interacting in beautifully unpredictable ways.

“In your mind, you sort of know what you want to do,” he said about his trips. “But as you go to work, stuff happens.”

But he leaves the realities of the moment alone; he doesn’t digitally manipulate his photos.

And sometimes, it’s the ab­­sence of fleeting, action-filled moments that holds power.

In a visit to the Vietnam Vet­er­ans Memorial wall just weeks after it was completed in the early 1980s, he noticed a letter rolled up in an old pair of boots left as an homage to a fallen soldier. He didn’t get past the first sentence before replacing the letter in its rightful place and taking the picture.

“I don’t want to capture anything spectacular,” he said. “I want it to look authentic and real.”

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