Mills takes snapshot of generations | ParkRecord.com

Mills takes snapshot of generations

Dan Bischoff, Of the Record staff

As memory fades, images and photographs are a reminder of the past. For Tom Mills, a landscape and action photographer, that has new meaning.

"My dad passed away not too long ago," Mills said.

That’s what, he said, motivated him in his new business. Not only does he continue to sell nature photographs, but he also utilizes Photoshop to create collages of old family photos that can go back generations. It’s like a family picture including great great grandparents on down to the recently born grandchildren.

"Folks can bring old photographs, slides or negatives, it doesn’t matter what format it is in," Mills said.

On his Web site, he has an example of the work he’s created called "Generation Road."

"I took a road and my family lines the road and it represents four generations and it goes back to my grandfather. I can arrange it any way they want, I just have to consult with them," Mills said.

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He combines the collages with various scenes and backgrounds.

"We restore it and the next thing you know, we can put them in a chronological order to represent all those generations." Mills said. "It’s a great thing for older parents or grandparents, you pretty much have everything in that state of life and they get to look at the broad scope of all their family in one shot."

Mills also restores old photos that may be scratched or otherwise damaged and helps people store their photos digitally.

He found the importance of storing photos digitally after his house burned down in 1987 when someone burnt down a whole city block.

"I was out of town and the only thing I had left was the clothes I packed," Mills said. If you lose your house, you first make sure your family is safe, but the next thing people go for are photos, because they stimulate memories."

"If folks come to me," Mills continued, "I can digitalize them and store them in cyberspace, if they lose them, they know all their precious photos are in a database. I just have to convert them or digitalize them. They can either transfer it into the computer or have me transfer it in and restore it."

Because of the fire in 1987, he empathizes with those that have similar experiences. He mentioned specifically a man in Salt Lake whose house exploded from a gas leak.

"This is something I wanted to offer, after what I’ve been through and what I saw that guy go through. It can save them a lot of heartache down the road," Mills said.

He said other people can do their own work, if they know Photoshop and have a quality scanner.

"But not all folks have the ability to do that," Mills said. "If their stuff is already in photographic print or slides, they won’t have the technology unless they buy a nice, expensive scanner. Photoshop, it’s a complicated software to use.

His work can be seen every week at the Farmers Market, where he showcases his outdoor photos and collages, with his landscape photos, he emphasizes that he doesn’t doctor them up with Photoshop. His images capture the changing facets of nature.

"I like to be outside in then elements," Mills said. "I love to be outside during stormy weather. It’s that stormy weather, for me, it gives me the lighting I prefer and there’s something about that kind of weather that makes me feel more alive."

He tries to model his work after Ansel Adams.

"I use the zone system that Ansel Adams created," Mills said. "He broke down tones of black and white. When you look at any kind of landscape shot you have your shadows and your brights."

He’s worked for various magazines and makes use of his outdoor experience, especially kayaking to bring unique images to life.

"I have a huge stockpile of whitewater and snowboard shots," Mills said. "I’m going to commit a page to the men’s half-pipe."

Mills said photography and developing the collages is his passion.

"It’s science meets creativity," Mills said. "You have to use some of the science and the art side of your brain."

For more information visit http://www.vowphoto.com, http://www.generationroad.com or call 962-0064.

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