Sunday, January 20, 2013

Have I got your attention yet?

The photographer that took this amazing picture, Richard Jackson, is the subject of this week’s Blog.  I have admired Rick’s breathtaking wildlife and landscape photography almost as long as I have lived here in Loreto when I started seeing his work displayed in some select locations in town.  Not long after that, I had the opportunity to meet Rick and his wife Jill, who are partners in a small “boutique” hotel just off the Malacon here in Loreto.

Recently, when our paths crossed again I asked Rick if he would be interested in being profiled in my Blog and you will be happy to learn he agreed – meeting with me in my Office in Loreto Bay this past week to tell me his Living Loreto story.

Rick’s Father-in-Law, who is an avid fisherman, had visited Loreto on frequent trips to the Baja over many years, and Jill and Rick were accompanying her parents on his retirement trip when they passed through Loreto in early 2004.  While walking the Malacon during that visit they wandered up a side street and saw a sign advertising a large residential compound for sale, consisting of a main home with 2 small “casitas” and a partially open boat garage with additional land for further development.

One thing led to another and before long Jill and Rick had become partners with her parents in the property which, after adding a couple of more casitas and a swimming pool, later that year became their new hotel, Las Cabanas de Loreto ( ).  When Jill and her parents returned to Loreto that fall to begin operating their new hotel, Rick carried on with his successfully established business travelling to art shows across the US, selling his prints of his wildlife photography.

Rick’s fascination with wildlife and photography had it’s beginnings watching “Wild Kingdom” every week with his Father when he was growing up, and carried on into Junior College where he took Zoology as the courses closest to his passion that he could find.  But, it was finally with the help of an Uncle that Rick was able to buy his first serious camera and lenses and set up a small darkroom, when he finally was able to pursue his passion for photographing nature and wildlife.

His career got off to an inauspicious beginning, at the first “swap meet” he attended as a vendor he failed to sell any of his early collection of wildlife pictures – but from that initial experience he quickly learned about the art shows that became a circuit that he worked diligently and with growing success over the next three decades. 

From that point on Rick and Jill’s life became an exotic blend of a “gypsy-like” tour of art shows, where he developed a clientele for his super realistic “once-in-a-lifetime” images of wildlife and landscape, alternated with field trips shared with Jill to distant locations like Africa and Antarctica where he restocked his collection of images, and almost as importantly the stories behind the images, that became his inventory for the art show tours.  In addition to the retail side of the business Rick has also had his work published in Audubon and Outdoor Magazine as well as Sierra Club books and posters.

Meanwhile, starting about 7 years ago with the opening of the hotel, Jill and his in-laws were living and working at building up the hotel business with growing success, particularly after achieving the coveted first place ranking for Loreto in Tripadvisor, which they have proudly maintained for a number of years.  Over much the same period of time as the hotel business was building, Rick was seeing a drop off in customers for his photography at the art shows due to the declining economic situation in the US and the reduced amount of disposable income generally.

As the numbers of art shows that he attended declined Rick began to shift his focus (no pun intended) more towards Loreto, where he found much to satisfy his appetite for natural history; perfectly situated as it is between the beautiful Sierra de la Gigante mountains, the Sea of Cortez and the collection of near-by islands, all of which provides him with more than enough inspiration and subject material to continue to grow his photographic collection.  He still maintains a striking website where you can view and order his work and he still attends the occasional art show in the US, but now his and Jill’s life is centered here in Loreto.

But there is a new chapter about to begin for both of them here.  They will be opening a shared Office/Gallery on the town square in Loreto, where Jill will base her growing Real Estate business and Rick will be able to display his photographic art to visitors and residents of Loreto.  This exciting new enterprise will enable many more people to see the beauty and natural wonder that surrounds us here, through the gifted eyes of an artist of Rick’s caliber.

What started for me as a fascination with the stunning images I had seen (that make my photographs look like “snapshots”), and led me to approaching Rick about being a Blog subject, has given me a doorway into learning more about his and Jill’s life and what brought them to Loreto.  Now, with this understanding, I am even more impressed with the fact that this couple, who have travelled to some of the most spectacular places on earth to capture iconic images of natural beauty, have chosen to settle here and find the source of inspiration that all of us who are here understand – but few have the talent to express so memorably!  Truly in Rick’s art we can see a gifted vision of “Living Loreto”!  

This week I heard the sad news that a friend Alberto Perez had passed away suddenly.  I had gotten to know "Beto" on my occasional visits to El Caballo Blanco, the bookstore here in Loreto her ran with his wife Jeannine, and I mentioned him in a recent posting about a lecture held in the store "A Glimpse of Loreto's History, Nov. 2012". 
Although I did not know Beto well, I looked forward to visiting with him when I visited the store and will remember him sitting in a comfortable chair in the back room, talking about the books he loved that surrounded him there.
My condolences to Jeannine and his many friends in Loreto and beyond.