Art begins in the work place | SteamboatToday.com
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Art begins in the work place

Autumn Phillips

The photography show in the Small Works Gallery at the Depot Art Center is the story of a workplace and the bonds that form between four walls while on the clock.

The staff of Snow Photo has become a small community of photographers, a de facto art co-op that expanded as each submitted his or her resume.

Through their workplace, two women, Jolene Esswein and Paula Jo Steele, formed a friendship behind the shutters of their cameras.

“We share a lot of the same life experiences that make us view our camera gear the same,” Esswein said. “Our cameras are our lifeblood. We’re both lucky to make our living taking pictures. How many other people in this town can say that they love going to work every day?”

There is an age difference between the two women, but that doesn’t seem to matter, Esswein said.

When they aren’t working, Esswein and Steele go hiking or skiing together, searching for photos to take. They will both see something special in an area on the mountain or in a grove of trees. Shutters click a dueling rhythm, but when they take their film to the darkroom, that’s when the differences begin to show.

“We’ll be looking at the same thing and see something completely different,” Esswein said. “That’s the fun of it.”

The women recently built a makeshift darkroom, blocked off by a piece of plywood in the back of Snow Photo, where they develop their work.

“We are always feeding off each other’s ideas,” Esswein said.

This is Esswein’s first show in Steamboat Springs, despite years as a photographer. Steele and Esswein chose to show together because “our stuff seems to fit together,” Esswein said.

Tonight’s show will feature photos the two women took while on a four-day roadtrip to Taos, N.M., in October where Esswein shot 12 rolls of film. The show also will include photos from the Wilderness Ranch north of Craig and photos that each woman took on her own.


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