Bryan Schutmaat (b. 1983, USA) combines portraits, landscapes, and still lifes in a series of photos that explores the lives of working people residing in small mountain towns and mining communities in the American West. He felt inspired by the poetry of Richard Hugo whose work reflects the economic depression of the Northwest. The landscapes in his images speak to the imagination of the small town life in the American West. The portraits of the people that work in and inhabit this landscape show the same kind of hard life, however in a gentle way, as if he was indeed writing a visual poem about their survival. Schutmaat tried to hint at narratives and relay the experiences of strangers met in settings that spur his own emotions. Taken with the romantic natural lighting of a waxing and waning sun, the images provoke an ideal for this rugged mining life, as well as a glimmer of youth that might be searching for a way out. Ultimately, this body of work is a meditation on small town life, the landscape, and more importantly, the inner landscapes of common men.
Grays the Mountain Sends has been elected as the winner of the Aperture Portfolio Prize 2013.