3-1-02
BACK TO ARCHIVE
 

At first glance, it might seem that my vocation as a psychiatrist and my avocation of photography have little in common. However, the way I see it, they both have the same ultimate goal, the expansion of consciousness and the elevation of the human spirit. In fact, manyof my patients have told me the inspiration they feel when viewing my photographs feels like a very beneficial part of their therapy. When I hear that, I feel tremendous gratification, more than I could ever obtain by winning a photography contest . Being able
to touch someone’s heart in that very special way with my photography is the ultimate achievement for me, something I aspire to attain whenever I am behind the lens trying
to capture the magic of the moment. Consequently, my professional work and my hobby
of photography do indeed seem to be working in synchronicity to enhance their mutual success.

My involvement with photography began as a child. My parents were constantly snapping Kodak Brownie camera moments and collecting large family albums. In medical school, while working as an extern at a residential treatment center for adolescent boys, some of them took me into the darkroom and showed me how to develop photos. Watching the creative process of developing photographic images immediately intrigued me and generated my interest in pursuing it as a hobby. Seeing my interest, my father-in-law, an artist in his own right, gave me a camera as a gift and helped launch my interest in photography.

After graduating from Northwestern University Medical School in Chicago, I moved to Northern California to the San Francisco Bay Area, primarily for the many options it offered to explore the outdoors and its natural wonders, from the Pacific Coast, the redwood forests, the Sierra Nevada, and the local beauty of the San Francisco Bay. My friends and partners in life shared my love of nature, and in the 1970’s and 1980’s , I went on many backpacking trips Yosemite and the Sierra Nevada and Trinity Alps, then to Glacier National Park, Yellowstone and the Canadian Rockies. I took hundreds of slides of these trips, and my skill at capturing the natural beauty around me got better and better. For a time, I had a darkroom in my home which I shared with a girlfriend who was also into photography, and many hours were spent experimenting with darkroom techniques. I was coached by a male friend of mine, an excellent photographer. During a darkroom session with him one night, as a black and white shot I took of the Tuolumne River in Yosemite was slowly appearing in the developing fluid, when he gasped an “Oh, my God!” as he saw my photograph appear, adding for good measure, “That looks like an Ansel Adams.” What a compliment! It was enough to get me to take my photography even more seriously, and continue to pursue it for the last 30 years.

I have had many wonderful adventures over the last 30 years, and my camera has always been my faithful companion, with or without human companionship. There were many adventures, including a full year of traveling through all through Europe, from the Land of the Midnight Sun above the Arctic Circle in Norway, through every country all the way down to Spain, Greece, Turkey and Morocco. What an adventure! But my ultimate adventure occurred in 1976. I cofounded Sunrise Center in San Francico, a human potential growth center aimed at integrating the inner and outer journeys in life. My partner and I co-led a group of Americans to Kashmir, India and Ladakh (Little Tibet) on the border of Tibet.

After the group expedition ended, I went on my own expediton to Nepal, aiming to trek through the Kumbu Himal of Nepal to hopefully view Mt. Everest. After a 3 week trek, assisted by local Sherpa guides, I achieved my goal, a view a Mt. Everest from Kala Pattar, a mountain directly across from Mt. Everest, perfectly situated for viewing the world’s
highest mountain. The trip was an arduous and difficult one, made even more challenging by the usual medical problems afflicting trekkers in this region, mild dysentery, upper respiratory tract virus and 24 hours of altitude sickness at 16,000 foot elevation that I thought was going to stop me from my goal. Luckily, it only slowed me down by an extra day need to acclimate to the altitude. I eventually made it to 18,200 Kala Pattar at the exact right moment to catch a breathtaking alignment of setting sun and rising moon, creating a moon rising behind an incandescent red Mt. Everest. How ironic it was that if I hadn’t gotten altitude sickness 72 hours earlier, I would have been there a day too early to get that shot. Are there really accidents?

In any event, the synchronicity of events led me to that place of conjoint sunset and moonrise, an event that occurs with that perfect alignment only two days a year, and those two days are more than likely to be clouded in at dusk, preventing any viewing. Was I lucky? You bet! The photos I took of that moment became memorialized as a book cover (Everest, The Testing Place, Dr. John West)., a calendar cover (The Himalayan Calendar), and a poster (Everest Sunset/Moonrise). If the thrill of that adventure wasn’t enough, my trip was capped by another fortuitous event, meeting Sir Edmund Hillary (the first man to ascend Mt. Everest with his sherpa in 1953) . As luck would have it, he was on a private trek in the region, and stayed at the same very small hostelry as

I did on a magical evening, graciously sharing his impressions of the changes occurring in that beautiful country. At the conclusion of our evening together, I passed on my sherpa to Sir Edmund to help him on his own trek, sort of like the batboy loaning Babe Ruth his bat. What an honor!

I continue to shoot hundreds of photographs each month, recently focusing on the Mt. Diablo area in the San Francisco Bay area. I live directly across from Mt. Diablo State Park, and am constantly going for photo runs through the miles of trails in the park. What a joy! In 2001, I started Mount Diablo Photography (and Robert Picker Photography) to share my photography with the world. I have worked very hard this last year to edit, scan and post hundreds of my best photos on my website.

I am very happy to be able to share so many incredible adventures I have had in my life with so many people through my photography. It brings me a special joy, not just because I want to share the beauty of these places, but because the magic of these places has touched me in special ways, allowing me to recognize that we are constantly surrounded by magic and beauty, if we will only open our hearts and souls, and yes, our eyes, to let it in. I take my camera with me practically everywhere, and it’s amazing how many unexpected things have found me at strange moments, shouting at me “Look at what God has Created! Celebrate it! Show the world!” If I am even slightly able to do that, my life is richer

and more fulfilled. Through my photography, I aim to continue to try to capture the eternal dance between light and dark, creation and destruction, and the flow nature in the process of evolution. When those viewing my photography feel moved by the magnificent creations on Mother Earth, and a sense of connection with Spirit which I feel when I am shooting my photos, then I have truly succeeded.

website: http://www.robertpicker.com