Every photograph has a story

Brandenburg loves capturing the moment; gallery on display at FCC

T-R PHOTO BY ADAM SODDERS Behind each of Garry Brandenburg’s photos is a story, and he enjoys telling of his experiences in photography. Not only does the photo itself have a story, but Brandenburg recalls the details of all the moments around the photo.

“They capture that moment of time that will never be repeated exactly the same way.”

Marshalltown’s Garry Brandenburg has had a love of photography for most of his life, and now the labors of that love are on display at Fisher Community Center.

Whether it’s a photo of a kit fox coming out of its den, a bald eagle taking flight, an aerial shot of the Iowa River or a girl with tiger face paint, there is a story behind each of Brandenburg’s photos in the gallery.

“There’s going to be some local wildlife pictures, there will be some from Africa, we’ve got pictures from the airplane, I’ve got some good people pictures that just turned out great,” Brandenburg said of the gallery in the room A of Fisher Community Center. The display will be available for viewing until June 1.

One of the hardest parts of the process for Brandenburg was narrowing down photos for viewing.

“Of these thousands and thousands and thousands of pictures, we were supposed to pick 24,” he said. “We had to try and make our own cut.”

Brandenburg and his wife, Bobbi, laid out 40 of the long-time photographer’s best photos to for the Central Iowa Camera Club’s consideration.

“It gets hard, my wife and I got to a point and said … ‘If they picked 24 out of this group, we could be happy,'” Brandenburg said.

CICC President David Giese, along with wife and CICC member Mary Giese, helped narrow down the photos that made it to the display, which was put up Monday morning.

A U.S. Air Force veteran, Brandenburg’s first serious foray into photography came when it was stationed in Southeast Asia more than 50 years ago.

“I started seriously in 1965, more as just a way to record things,” he said. “I bought my first Nikon camera when I was still in the Air Force.”

The pictures he produced back then were primarily black-and-white, and he would send film to get developed in a laboratory. The process to develop film then was long and arduous by today’s standards.

It was when Brandenburg got his developed photos back that he would cull through the collection and figure out what went well and what wasn’t working.

“I’d say ‘This worked pretty good, this worked pretty good, this one’s terrible,'” he said. “I’m asking myself ‘What’d I do wrong?'”

After his time in the service ended in 1967, Brandenburg went to Iowa State University to study for a career in fish and wildlife biology. During his study, he found space in his elective classes to include a photography course.

“Photography was an interest, so I thought “I’ll take the photography course!'” he said.

Along with photography principals and techniques, Brandenburg learned how to properly develop film in a darkroom, open a film canister using braille, place it in a solution, dry it and look at negatives.

Another part of his assignments were to go out and photograph people, architecture and art around campus.

“It’s building up, building up, building up all the time to try and improve everybody,” he said of the course. “It was interesting during that class just to see how people grew.”

The spark for Brandenburg’s love of photography came in part from growing up seeing photos in magazines like “Outdoor Life,” “National Geographic,” and various dairy publications that his father read on their farm in Bremer County.

The photos illustrated aspects of nature, another area of interest for the young Brandenburg that endures today. He said the pictures and cutlines also expanded his world-view as he saw images from different continents, cultures, animals and habitats.

In the digital age, Brandenburg said he carefully goes through the pictures he takes on the computer.

“I look at the photos critically,” Brandenburg said of his developing process. “I try and reduce that group (of photos) to a smaller and smaller amount, so what’s left are the really quality pictures.”

Despite years of experience and an intrinsic understanding of photography, Brandenburg said he’s anything but immune to mistakes.

“Even today, for all the thousands of pictures I’ve taken, I make bloopers often,” he said, and with a laugh added “People are never going to see them because I don’t want them to see them.”

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Contact Adam Sodders at (641) 753-6611 or asodders@timesrepublican.com