Inspiration in creation

Washougal photographer is featured artist at Second Story Gallery

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Like most romances, it began innocently enough.

Almost 40 years ago, Sandy Caldwell bought a used Nikon camera from a friend and started experimenting with photography.

She was instantly smitten.

“I loved capturing images of nature and landscapes,” she said. “Being outdoors, you are surrounded by beauty and quiet.”

Although Caldwell was moderately successful at selling her photographs, it became an expensive hobby, as digital photography and inexpensive color printing were a thing of the future.

After having three boys in six years, Caldwell’s focus switched from nature photography to family photos and kids’ activities.

“I just couldn’t afford to be a photographer and didn’t have the time,” she said. “So, I had to put it on hold.”

If you go

“The Creator’s Creations” runs through Saturday, Jan. 28, at the Second Story Gallery, upstairs in the Camas Public Library. The gallery is open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Wednesday, and from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday through Saturday.

The library is located at 624 N.E. Fourth Ave. Call 834-4692 or visit for more information.

Then 17 years ago, Caldwell’s husband Les, gifted her with a Canon Rebel digital camera.

She fell in love with photography all over again, and hasn’t looked back. In addition to selling her photography, Caldwell has also been a featured artist at the Second Story Gallery. Her third exhibit, “The Creator’s Creations,” is on display through January.

It focuses on travel destinations from the past several years.

“Many of my photos are about being in the right place at the right time,” Caldwell said.

The Washougal resident gleans inspiration from the natural beauty that surrounds her. She and Les often take impromptu day trips into the Columbia River Gorge, and Caldwell always brings along her a Canon Rebel T4i camera.

One of her favorite photographs is a frozen waterfall at Multnomah Falls that she keeps on a wall in her house.

“My husband has me take it down in the winter because he says it makes him feel colder,” she joked.

In addition to the Gorge, her other favorite photography location is the beach. There, she often captures images of lighthouses and sunsets.

“I love the beach,” she said. “It is my happy place.”

Maui, Hawaii, is a favorite travel destination for taking sunset photos, as well as capturing images of the Haleakala Crater. One of these is featured in the Second Story Gallery exhibit.

“If it wasn’t for my husband, I wouldn’t be able to feature my photos in a show at all,” she said. “I don’t do computers. He takes care of uploading the images, printing, matting and framing. He does everything. I just take the photos.”

Les is also her sidekick on various travels. In addition to Hawaii and the Gorge, the couple has traveled to Alaska, Yellowstone National Park, and to beaches all over Washington, Oregon and California.

Locally, she and Les will often head out fishing on their boat. While he fishes, Caldwell drives the boat and captures images on her camera.

No matter where she finds herself, Caldwell is always on the lookout.

“I love being able to share the different places I have been, and show God’s beauty and creation with others who may not have the opportunity to see it themselves,” she said. “I encourage anyone who wants to try photography to just do it. Get out and experiment.”