Ray Atkeson’s journey into photography began more than sixty years ago. While working as a night janitor in high school, he took his box camera to work and set it in an office window to record a snowfall. He forgot the camera while sweeping the floor, but the exposure was so interesting it was published in the Kansas City Star and the Illustrated London News.
Known as the “Ansel Adams of ski photography,” Atkeson was a pioneer in winter landscape and recreational photography from the early 1930s-1950s. He is especially well known for his stunning black-and-white images of the ski and snow country in the Western states. These pictures represent a time when everyone knew everyone else on the mountain, when rope tow tickets were only a dollar a day and there weren’t many tows to ride, much less people who dared ride them. Ray went where no one else ventured, capturing frozen moments in time for generations to admire.
Atkeson’s photographs speak for themselves. An Atkeson photograph is immediately identifiable. There is a sweep and simplicity to the composition, a radiance of color and light, a dramatic center. His mastery, which he has achieved through years of work, resembles that of the Zen archer whose bow becomes one with the universe. Never aiming at the target, he always hit it.