Diane Urbani de la Paz/For Peninsula Daily News                                Ernst-Ulrich Schafer will host a 40-year retrospective of his photography this weekend at Studio Bob in downtown Port Angeles.

Diane Urbani de la Paz/For Peninsula Daily News Ernst-Ulrich Schafer will host a 40-year retrospective of his photography this weekend at Studio Bob in downtown Port Angeles.

Forty years of Ernst images: Port Angeles photographer’s retrospective starts with Saturday reception

By Diane Urbani de la Paz

For Peninsula Daily News

PORT ANGELES — Come to the window and close your eyes. Now look into the lens. Let go of the need to smile.

Such are the guiding words behind an Ernst portrait, the unmistakable photographs Ernst-Ulrich Schafer creates.

Scores of his images, from portraits to cityscapes, will fill Studio Bob in Schafer’s 40-year retrospective, a show that will open with a reception Saturday night and a talk by the artist Sunday.

Admission is free to Studio Bob, 118½ E. Front St., while the adjacent Loom lounge will have food and drink available for purchase.

The opening party will go from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday; then Schafer will host a discussion — “it’ll be open-ended,” he promises — during the Sunday showing from noon to 3 p.m.

The exhibition will stay up through November and visitors may make appointments to see it by phoning Schafer at 360-808-6058.

In his sunlight-filled loft studio earlier this week, Schafer said he’ll portray his first 40 years as a photographer by hanging 40 framed prints; a slew of postcard-size images; some of his award-winning photographs; several collages plus pictures from his collection of work by fellow photographers.

He’ll even hang some strips of film negatives, those historic things that started his career.

It was 1971 when Schafer was serving as an Army combat engineer in Vietnam. A friend, eager to switch to the latest gear, gave him an old camera.

Before that object landed in his hands, Schafer was a 19-year-old with no direction in life. He thought: “Wouldn’t it be great to be a photographer?”

Schafer served four years in the Army, mustered out at Fort Lewis (now Joint Base Lewis-McChord) and went to Clark College in Vancouver, Wash., on G.I. Bill benefits.

He studied photography and found inspiration in the work of other artists; by the late 1970s he had begun documenting Memorial Day and Veterans Day services, something he does to this day.

In Vancouver, Schafer married, and he and his wife Donna Matyskiela had a little boy, Dylan, named after Bob Dylan. They decided to move to a smaller town to raise their son, and Schafer later found work in the photo department at Frick Drugs in Sequim.

“I was just doing my own projects,” Schafer said of that time.

One such endeavor found him at the Clallam County Fair, making portraits of youngsters and their animals.

Nobody else was doing this. One fair day in 2002, he sold 450 5-by-7 prints off a picnic table.

So developed his profession as a portraitist, and his progression toward opening his own studio.

Ernst Fine Art Photography started out on Laurel Street in 2000, then moved to the upstairs space next to Studio Bob at the beginning of this year.

“I love window light,” he said as a reporter asked him to step toward it. Then Schafer, 64, spoke of his love for a lot of other things: taking workshops with other photographers around the country, roaming around taking photos in cities large and small, capturing the tender gaze between a husband and wife.

“I like being positive. I like good energy.

“Portrait work is so exciting. We’re all different. We all bring something special,” Schafer said, adding that another of his favorite projects is what he calls “Yank ’em off the Sidewalk.”

He walks up to an individual downtown and asks to take his or her portrait. Schafer has won awards for these at photography conferences, and might display a few in this weekend’s show.

Does anyone ever say to him, “Oh no, I don’t look good in pictures”?

“Every person,” said Schafer. It’s usually because in the past somebody commanded this person to smile for the camera, say cheese, smile, come on, smile.

Many of Schafer’s best images, he feels, are those of people being themselves, not necessarily smiling.

About five years ago Schafer took a workshop with Darton Drake, a photographer out of Chicago.

“He turned my world upside down, with his composition, his lighting,” Schafer said.

Drake is now deceased, yet his images still rock Schafer’s world, and that is a good thing.

Schafer seeks and finds renewal all around, in other artists, in children and elders, in the moon and sky.

And he acknowledges that in this world of cellphone cameras, it’s not easy to make a living as a photographer. But Schafer doesn’t dwell on that. He’s about making a life as an artist.

To answer the question posed some four decades ago: Yes, it is great to be a photographer.

________

Diane Urbani de la Paz, a former features editor for the Peninsula Daily News, is a freelance writer living in Port Angeles.

caption info: Diane Urbani de la Paz/For Peninsula Daily News Ernst-Ulrich Schafer will show photos from his archive as well as from his collection of work by fellow photographers.

caption info: Diane Urbani de la Paz/For Peninsula Daily News Ernst-Ulrich Schafer will show photos from his archive as well as from his collection of work by fellow photographers.

photo by Ernst-Ulrich Schafer Musicians such as John Manno are among the many artists captured in Ernst-Ulrich Schafer’s lens.

photo by Ernst-Ulrich Schafer Musicians such as John Manno are among the many artists captured in Ernst-Ulrich Schafer’s lens.

photo by Ernst-Ulrich Schafer While Ernst-Ulrich Schafer is known for his portraiture, his retrospective this weekend will take viewers beyond the studio.

photo by Ernst-Ulrich Schafer While Ernst-Ulrich Schafer is known for his portraiture, his retrospective this weekend will take viewers beyond the studio.

(photo by Ernst-Ulrich Schafer) At every opportunity, photographer Ernst Ulrich-Schafer seeks to honor military veterans.

(photo by Ernst-Ulrich Schafer) At every opportunity, photographer Ernst Ulrich-Schafer seeks to honor military veterans.

More in Entertainment

Moving Pictures Festival accepting submissions

Peninsula College is accepting submissions for its 11th Moving… Continue reading

Bear Chashin, 4, wins his age 3-4 trike race during the Rhody Festival Kids Trike Races on Water Street in Port Townsend on Wednesday. The festival continues with a kiddie parade, hair and beard contest and bed races today, plus the grand parade at 1 p.m. Saturday and the Rhody Run at 9 a.m. Sunday. For a complete list of events, go to https://rhodyfestival.org. (Steve Mullensky/for Peninsula Daily News)
Port Townsend pedalers

Bear Chashin, 4, wins his age 3-4 trike race during the Rhody… Continue reading

Forest bathing guide Ellen Falconer's picture of visitors to the Memory's Vault art installation at Fort Worden is among the photos in a new book. (Ellen Falconer)
‘Memory’s Vault’ to be celebrated by artist, poets

Two events this weekend in Port Townsend

Claire Ragland, left, and Isabel Elena Pérez are two of the artists who will discuss their work in a free talk about the "Lush Language" exhibit on Thursday. (Northwind Art)
Free artist talk to dive into ‘Lush Language’

Aquatint etchings, pastels on black paper, house paint on… Continue reading

Rhody Fest, plant sales highlight weekend events

The annual Rhody Festival in Port Townsend joins community plays and plant… Continue reading

Rick Estrin and the Nightcats to perform at Eaglemount Cidery

Rick Estrin and The Nightcats will perform at 7:30… Continue reading

Tickets on sale for Tarboo Indie Music Festival

Tickets are on sale for the inaugural Tarboo Indie Music… Continue reading

Monday Musicale to feature soft rock

Monday Musicale will meet for lunch at noon Monday.… Continue reading

Port Angeles Symphony Orchestra to conduct membership meeting

The Port Angeles Symphony Orchestra will conduct a membership… Continue reading

Blake McCabe of Port Angeles will host Drag Brunch Bingo at Studio Bob.
Studio Bob to host Drag Brunch Bingo experience

Drag Brunch Bingo, originally scheduled for Sunday at Studio… Continue reading