The goal of Westgate's Serenity Spa at Canyons is to promote an environment that is welcoming and nurturing for guests, said spa director Michelle Howard.

"We want people to have a great experience that's down-to-Earth, that is intuitive for the people who come in," Howard said during an interview with The Park Record.

After thinking of things that would add to that type of experience, Howard decided to recruit local artists to show their work.

"I wanted to think a little outside of the box," she said. "We get a lot of visitors asking if we have anything to offer that is made in Park City. So, I thought it would be fun to feature a Park City artist once a quarter."

Howard said she is open to all types of art as long as the images, photos, paintings and sculptures are appropriate for the overall feeling of the venue.

"I think polished is the first word that comes to my mind, but what that means, I'm really not sure," she said. "However, I think we would like to display soft-colored, relaxing and sensual works that complements the feeling people get when they come into the spa."

With that in mind, Howard contacted Park City photographer Richard D. Pick through a mutual friend to see if he would be interested in being the inaugural artist to show at the spa.

"We were so pleased that he was open to be our first artist, because we really didn't know what we were getting into," Howard said with a laugh.


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"I was so happy he was open and humble to get this started."

Still, since the spa features low and relaxed lighting, Howard knew displaying Pick's photographs would be a challenge.

"I wanted photography to be displayed throughout the spa, but we have only limited areas to show the art," she said. "We have some photos in the men's and women's lounges and the boutique."

Pick, who has been a professional photographer for more than 40 years, said he wasn't concerned about the lighting.

"I was thrilled to have my work recognized in a place as nice as the spa and jumped at the opportunity," he said. "So, I looked for things that I thought would be good in that environment and Michelle and I decided what would fit."

The two selected 11 photographs of wild birds and landscapes.

"Between those subjects, you deal with many different things, but both of them require a lot of patience and persistence," said Pick, who has been associated with the National Audubon Society. "When it comes to photographing landscapes with you're dealing with the weather and lighting. Sometimes you need to be at the site before sunrise and get some shots right after the sunrises for just a few seconds."

In each selected photo, Pick searched for that extra something that would make it special for the people who look at the picture.

"One of the photographs at the spa is of a common loon that is in the water with one of its chicks on its back," Pick said. "There is a period of time when the babies ride on the mother and I wanted to get a photo of that, but in order to do so, I had to know something about the subject. I had to know where I was going to find a lot of the birds and know their behaviors. So, I had flown out to Michigan to photograph the loons and I got there two days after the babies were hatched."

Another photograph shows a pileated woodpecker feeding its young.

"I have a lot of photos of those birds, but this photo is different because it shows the two babies poking their heads out of the house to get some food," Pick said. "I went back to Michigan two years in a row to find the photo I wanted to take.

"You see, the parents leave the next to go find some food and come back every 50 minutes to feed their young, which takes about 60 seconds and then they're gone again," he said. "So, when photographing birds, you also have to rely on a little luck."

However, even if the composition and drama is right, the photos can always be better, said Pick, who had one of his loon photos selected as one of the top 100 photos of the 2012 online gallery by Audubon magazine.

"You want to isolate the birds so they'll jump out of the photographs, and you want to have what I call an eye catch, where you have that little glistening in the birds' eyes," he explained.

That's one reason he chose a photo of a black-chinned hummingbird, one of the hummingbird species that breeds in Park City.

"I do shoot hummingbirds in natural light, but I had this interest in capturing the birds in mid-flight and that got more complicated," Pick said. "I began using flashes as my main light on the bird and can adjust the strobe so that they will emit light for 10,000th of a second. And if you get that fast, you can take a photograph that will actually stop the wings of the hummingbird to the point where you can see the feathers."

Like he does with the birds, Pick, who has always been an outdoor person, says he looks for something extra when taking landscape photographs.

Some of those photographs on display include Mesa Arch in Canyonlands National Park, the Toadstool in Escalante and Lower Antelope Canyon in Arizona.

"With Mesa Arch, I wanted to get the sun in a sunburst right below the arch and I was fortunate to get that in one of my trips there," he said. "The photo was taken in winter and the sun is located way south in the photograph and there is some snow on the rim."

Another landscape is of Willis Creek that flows from Bryce Canyon into the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument.

"I'm not a grand landscape photographer, because more often than not, I exclude the sky," Pick said. "I do more sectional photos and have focused my work on slot canyons in the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument and the San Rafael Swell area.

"So, the fact that I would be showing at the spa helped narrow the photos down," he said. "We had a certain atmosphere we wanted to create and a lot of the birds I chose were peaceful and serene. The landscapes, again, were chosen because of the formations and the wow factor."

Howard said she liked the passion and stories Pick had with each photo.

"Those themes are carried into the spa because we are very passionate about what we do here," she said. "It just happened that we started out with a photo exhibit, but eventually we would like to expand into music performances in our lobby and restaurants, but that's in the future.

"Hopefully that will expand to the entire spa and not just art," Howard said. "Even a lot of items we sell in the boutique have been switched out to local and organic vendors. I want to partner with the local community."

For more information about the Richard D. Pick's photography, visit www. rdpnaturephoto.com/. For more information about the Serenity Spa, visit www.wgparkcity.com.