Alaskans are eclectic and proud of it.
Anyone who doubts this will be swayed by Portrait Alaska: Clark James Mishler, which features more than 200 portraits of Alaskans taken during the past 20 years. Much like The Family of Man —a groundbreaking Museum of Modern Art photography exhibition in 1955 — this project demonstrates the independence and character of Alaskans, while also emphasizing the ties that connect residents across the largest state.
A commercial photographer specializing in location portraiture, Mishler’s work is represented in the Anchorage Museum collection and has appeared in hundreds of books and periodicals including National Geographic and Time. In 2007 he published the well-received book Anchorage, Life at the Edge of the Frontier.
“Many Alaska photographers are focused on the landscape and wildlife. They want to get away from the city stuff, away from people,” Mishler said. “I’m just the opposite. I’m drawn to people because I find them to be the most interesting animal.”
Chief Curator Julie Decker said Mishler has established himself as one of Alaska’s primary portrait photographers. He is four years into his Portrait of the Day series, in which he photographs people he randomly encounters and then posts the results online. The images demonstrate Mishler’s eye for character and putting people in context, whether it’s a woman hanging salmon to dry at a fish camp, 4-H kids holding chickens at the state fair, or a skateboarder in neon pink Converse sneakers.
Mishler hopes Alaskan visitors see some of themselves in these pictures. “I’d love them to say ‘Ha! He got it. He totally got it. This is who we are.’”
Born in Trenton, Mich., Mishler has lived in Anchorage since 1979. His first solo exhibition at the Anchorage Museum was in 1982.
Lecture/Book Signing: Clark James Mishler
2 p.m. Saturday, April 20
Join Anchorage photographer Clark James Mishler on a journey through his Anchorage Museum photographic portrait exhibition and companion book. Included with museum general admission
Teen Studio: Clark James Mishler
6:30 to 7 p.m. Friday, May 3
Teens can hang out with Clark James Mishler, who offers a behind-the-scenes look at his portrait exhibition and some lighting tips for photographing people. Free
Photography Lighting Demonstration
7 p.m. Friday, May 3
Clark James Mishler shares his lighting techniques and equipment tips for capturing portraits on location. Bring your camera for hands-on practice. Free