A few years ago, I had the pleasure of receiving a phone call to set up a meeting with a long-time Anchorage resident, Loren Taft. I was told he had a lot of photographs. And then I went to his house. And he did indeed have a lot of photographs. A lot of beautiful photographs. Nearly 13,000 color 35mm slides. In fact, he’d been working as a professional nature photographer in Alaska for some years and had formed his own stock image company, Alaskan Images, to license the images he’d taken. He was looking for a home for his photographs where they could be seen and used.
Sadly, Mr. Taft passed away this past September. After his passing, his son gave us his collection. That collection included a number of beautifully framed and matted enlargements: photographs Mr. Taft had hanging in his living room and throughout his house because they were his favorites. And now we finally have a chance to share those with you. On exhibit on the 3rd floor of the Consortium Library through the end of June are hanging 33 of Mr. Taft’s favorite photographs. Birds, bears, scenic vistas, even a spectacular image of the 1992 eruption of Mt. Spurr taken at sunset from the Glen Alps area. That last image made the cover of Life magazine that year.
And because 33 is such a tiny percentage of the wonderful photographs in this collection, we also digitized 500+ of them and they’re playing as a slide show on the big screen tv that can be seen from outside the windowed wall of the Archives reading room so you can get an even better idea of the scope of his work. It takes nearly an hour to watch it all the way through, if you’re inclined to spend a lunch hour out in one of the comfy chairs out there. We hope you’ll take the opportunity to take a look at the images. See how many Alaskan views you recognize. How many of the birds or plants you can identify. Admire the beauty of this wonderful place we call home.
Here’s a few to get you started.