Capturing the moment

Washougal woman displays photography at Port of C-W

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Sherri Irish has been capturing images with her camera since she was a young girl growing up in Florida.

“I used to set up my briar horses and take photos, and pretend they were real,” she said.

While the Washougal artist has come a long way from that first Polaroid camera, her love of photography has never changed.

“I just love capturing that moment in time,” said Irish, 56. “Where we live there are amazing sunrises and sunsets, and I am always peeking out the window to see what it will be like.”

Irish is the featured artist at the Offices of the Port of Camas-Washougal. Her photography series was taken on a wintry day at the Steigerwald Lake National Wildlife Refuge in Washougal.

“The sun and lifting fog made the morning seem quite mystical,” she said. “What a great way to start the day. It was so cool and crisp.”

It is the first time Irish has displayed her photography publicly.

“I was at the Port discussing the waterfront trail, and brought my camera to take some before photos,” she said. “The artist who had her work displayed asked if I would be interested in something similar, and I said yes.”

Her photos are displayed on a frame of glassy metal aluminum, which gives them a unique hue.

Irish finds inspiration for her work close to home. The transplanted Washingtonian has been a Washougal resident for nearly 28 years.

Before moving to Washougal, Irish lived in Florida, New York and California. As a young girl, she enjoyed the friendliness of the people and the natural beauty of Florida, and often spent time canoeing and riding her bike.

After a vacation to Washington state, Irish knew where she wanted to live.

“It reminded me of Florida because of how friendly everyone is,” she said. “At the time, I was living in San Jose and I hated it. I never liked the lifestyle. I just enjoy being here. There is so much beauty.”

Irish and her husband, Larry Keister, live on 53 acres in rural Washougal, a mixture of pasture, woods and old logging roads. The couple has spent many an afternoon exploring their property, where Irish receives much of the inspiration for her work.

Their home is within the Columbia Gorge National Scenic Area, which has strict building restrictions. The property includes horses, goats, a cat and dog.

The couple even has a teepee on their property, complete with a bed, chairs and a fireplace, that they jokingly refer to as their “retirement home.” They purchased it several years ago, with the intention of using it as a place for company. However, they have spent their fair share of time relaxing in there as well.

“When we need to escape, we only to walk to our front yard and spend the night in the teepee,” Irish said.

She can be frequently seen walking the property and looking for the opportunity to capture something new.

“I compete with the neighbor to see who can get the best sunrise and sunset photos,” Irish joked. “I love the colors and the clouds. It gives you a lot to work with.”

Recently, she upgraded her old point-and-shoot camera to a Nikon 610 DS, which she feels has helped improve her work.

“Every year for Christmas I give calendars to friends and family, and I wanted to up the quality of the photos,” she said. “It is unbelievably beautiful here and I want to capture that as best I can.”

Those interested in displaying their artwork at the Port can call 835-2196 for more information.