Presented by Snapped
About 20 years ago, two old women from Wainwright posed for a picture together.
Clark James Mishler called his photograph “Best Friends.” The women sat with their arms twined around each other, and years after they posed for Mishler’s lens, he said their portrait is still one of his favorites.
There’s a more recent favorite, too.
He took that photo at the 2012 Alaska State Fair, when four children cradling poultry stood with their backs to the wall and gazed into the camera with serious eyes.
The two images were taken years apart in very different parts of Alaska. But like all his portraits, Mishler said they aim to capture the same thing. He focuses on the faces, clothes, haircuts and all the other tiny details that hint at the way his subjects live: He said those are the kinds of things he finds irresistible.
Now, Mishler has collected nearly 200 images culled from more than 2,000 original pictures and 25 years of Alaskan portraiture. He plans to publish the photographs in a coffee table book via the crowd-funding website Kickstarter, and is aiming to raise $38,000 by January 8.
It’s a huge project based on an even greater body of work, but Mishler said the quarter-century he’s spent photographing Alaskans all comes down to his love of the timeless details that make up life on the Last Frontier.
“Some might think it an obsession, but it is simply a deep appreciation of the subjects,” he said. “I am so happy that I have been able to do this work for so many years.”
And 20 years after he photographed the two silver-haired friends from Northwest Alaska, their friendship is still just as picturesque as the day he snapped the shutter.
“I hope that my images are interesting 50 to 100 years from now.”
Find out more about the Portrait Alaska Kickstarter project here.