Robert Dawson is publishing a new book featuring Wallowa County sites called “This Side of Paradise: Photos of Mt. Joseph and Wallowa County.”
Dawson is a renowned photographer of the west with four previous books and award-winning photos in magazines such as Western Horseman, American Cowboy and Cowboys & Indians. He is also a philanthropist who has raised many thousands of dollars through donations of his work.
“This will be the first book I’ve ever done that’s strictly wildlife,” Dawson said from behind the desk at his gallery at 15 S. Main St. in Joseph
The 142-page book, printed in the United States, features more than 140 photos of various facets of the county’s wildlife, landscapes and western life. Dawson said he conceived the idea for the book more than a year ago after talking with Copper Creek store owner Tammy Strampe, who said that customers were looking for something a little larger than post cards, although post cards were selling well.
“I told her I couldn’t make any money off post cards, so why don’t we put together a small coffee table book of nothing but photographs,” he said. “It can be used as a gift or for tourists to show where they went during the summer instead of selfies on their cell phone. A lot of people who come here see maybe 10 percent of it. I want them to get a feeling there’s more here.”
Dawson said he has spent nearly 700 days in the field.
“Out of that 700 days, I got maybe 250 pictures for the layout firm to pick from, and they picked between 140-160 images,” Dawson said.
The photographer said he’s sweating bullets about the project, as he had 1,000 books printed.
“I’m hoping that I don’t end up with 500-1000 books to use as doorstops,” he said.
Scenery is Dawson’s favorite part of the book. He noted the cover photo of Wallowa Lake was his favorite.
“It was done early in the morning in November or early December,” he said. “Driving up to that lake every morning is absolutely gorgeous –– it’s paradise. It’s hard to really pick a favorite place in the county to shoot because it’s all gorgeous.”
Despite his photography skills, he said he couldn’t have put the book together without help. Between 10-15 people helped with scouting for wildlife or inviting him to their property when wildlife was present.
The books shipped out from the printer Dec. 8 with Dawson expecting their arrival Dec. 14-15. The bulk of the books will be sold by Missy’s Uptown Art, whose space is shared by Dawson. After the weekend, the books will be distributed to select stores throughout the county. Along with Missy’s, both Mad Mary’s, Copper Creek and possibly other stores will carry the books in Joseph