Park City-based photographer Bret Webster will return to the Middle East
January 24, 2014
Last year, the U.S. Department of State flew Park City-based photograher Bret Webster to the U.S. embassy in Kuwait.
Within six days, Webster, owner of Bret Webster Images on Main St., was transported around the area to give presentations about his photography to various groups.
"I felt really good about last year," said Webster, whose Horseshoe Canyon work "Ghost Panel Night" hangs in the embassy’s board room. "I made so many friends that I correspond now with from Kuwait."
The Kuwaitis felt the same way and asked the embassy to bring Webster back.
So the photographer is leaving Tuesday and will be in the Middle East for nearly three weeks.
"I guess they let other embassies in the area know how last year’s event went," Webster said. "I’m excited to return."
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He will show some photos of Park City and the surrounding area on this trip.
"I’ll be taking some aspens photos that I took in town and at Guardsman Pass and a photos of Mount Timpanogos," Webster said. "I will also pack some slides for some slideshows as well, so there will be an abundance of Park City represented when I get there."
On this tour, Webster, whose gallery is located at 312 Main St., will not only visit Kuwait, but also two cities in Oman — Salalah and Muscat, that lie south of Saudi Arabia.
"This is an expanded version of what I did last year," Webster said. "It’s a privilege to be going back."
The first place he’ll land is Salalah.
"It is a garden spot on the end of the Arabian peninsula that is surrounded by mountains," Webster said. "Then I’ll go to Muscat, the capitol of Oman, for another five days, and then repeat the exhibit in Kuwait."
During the exhibit, the State Department has scheduled an array of speaking engagements.
"I told them that I would talk with everyone they want, especially youth groups, students, faculty and disabled groups," Webster said. "I have a distilled logic that drives my life and I think it expresses itself in my pictures. I think the photos helped me understand it."
The photographer feels it is his duty as an artist to build bridges between cultures.
"As humans, we’re so well equipped to feel love and beauty, and we do it well," Webster explained. "Yes. There is turmoil, pain and things like that, but the ability to enjoy beauty is in us.
"Now, that didn’t have to be that way,’ he said. "I mean, we could have been reptilian automatons that think well and clear and make good decisions. But the reality is, we’re not. We’re feeling creatures and once in a while we realize that we’re here in this garden of beauty."
When Webster takes his photographs, he wants to capture how nature shows off and tells stories.
"These tales are of the depth of time, beauty and the symmetry of the stars," he said. "And they go in so many directions mathematics, physics, families, children and love.
"Even an image of a homeless person trying to stay warm is a beautiful and touching image," Webster said. "These things are our lives."
When he sees the beauty in these images, Webster feels an obligation to, when he can, "rejoice and appreciate the art of existence."
"In the end, the big bender for me on that logic train, is the most beautiful thing that is going on is that we are part of what we’re seeing," he said. "The most beautiful thing in the photo is a human looking at the scenery. We should turn the camera around on ourselves and close the circuit, because we’re the link. We’re the part of what makes life beautiful."
With that in mind, Webster, whose works also are shown at the Rio Tinto Natural History Museum of Utah and at the U.S. embassy in Tunisia, asked if he could set some time aside to take some photos of Oman and its surrounding areas.
"There are some places that I want to shoot and I’ve dreamed about being in the empty corridor of one of the world’s greatest deserts," he said. "Frankincense comes from Oman and trees have these fingers and they’re so cool. I would love to get some photos of these sensuous curves with the moon behind them."
The request was waved off.
"Oman is a little off the grid and close to the border of Yemen," he said. "I was informed that there was a travel advisory in that area. So it wouldn’t be a good idea."
In addition to his photographs, Webster has already helped Oman in a different way.
"They have a film festival and the Sultan of Oman is trying to get it off the ground," Webster said. "The State Department wanted a strong female presence and I put them in touch with Jill Miller, the former managing director for the Sundance Institute. So she has helping them out."
Since opening his Park City gallery last June, Webster has enjoyed getting to know the town.
"It’s been amazing," he said. "It’s been stimulating, interesting and awesome."
For more information about photographer Bret Webster, call 435-200-8258 or visit http://www.bretwebsterimages.com .
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