Bruce W. Heinemann - The Art of the Landscape - Anacortes Magazine - Art, Music, and Community

Bruce W. Heinemann – The Art of the Landscape

Many photographers suffer a sense of separation from their subjects as they work, wrestling with the feeling that in committing to the camera they have disassociated themselves from true connection with the people or the scene they are recording.

Not so for acclaimed landscape photographer Bruce W. Heinemann of Anacortes.

Heinemann, who grew up in Seattle, moved to Fidalgo Island in 2000 and like countless others who call this island home, he has elected to stay.

The photographer said his roots as a photographer date to his teen years in Seattle, when he “usurped” a Canon AE-1 from his father.

“I was the photographer on trips with friends,” he recalls, “and I kept doing that through the Seventies.”

Then a fateful Lottery ticket win yielded him a prize of $500, with which he purchased his first personal camera.

“That,” he said, “was the beginning of my career in photography.”

Photos of friends and group adventures gave way to a new passion that would define his future: fine art nature photography.

In one of the essays in his latest book, slated for publication in November, Heinemann writes: “Photography, among all of its noble characteristics is perhaps first, and foremost about relationships… between ideas, themes, colors, shapes, textures, metaphors . . . I find the visual and metaphorical relationship between earth and sky as the most powerful and inspiring of all subjects in nature.”

The book is titled “Washington: The Art of the Landscape,” and Heinemann characterizes it as “… my personal portrait of this visual masterpiece, this living painting that we call home.”

He notes: “As I have grown and experienced more of my life through the lens of a camera, I see more clearly than ever the profound relationship between who we are and where we live.”

Like most people, Heinemann sought in early years to define himself. An accomplished classical and jazz trumpet soloist, he initially left college in the early Seventies after three years of study, ultimately returning to earn a Bachelor of Arts in anthropology after a brief stint in sales with Prentice-Hall.

In that senior year of college he discovered another way of expressing himself – a skill destined to complement his photography and set him apart from most of his peers.

“My last year in college I had to do a lot of writing. It was hard – like lifting weights,” he said. “But by the end of the year, with all of that writing, I realized it wasn’t that difficult after all. Like playing an instrument – once you get by the basics, technique becomes second nature. Then you can let the music flow.”

Photography became an undeniable passion, but it was not until he was in his thirties that Heinemann locked in to photography as his career focus.

“I realized that I had bought into the attitude that if you move from amateur to professional, you will spoil the passion,” he recalls. “But something inside me peeked out from time to time and said, ‘You’re all in.’”

He determined to pursue his passion in earnest, courageously self-publishing his first “coffee table book” in 1992. There have been seven more books since, with the ninth to be published this fall.

Writer Tim McNulty observed of Heinemann in the foreword of his book “The Nature of Wisdom, Inspirations from the Natural World:”

“Following his own inner vision, photographer Bruce Heinemann has gathered gems of attentiveness from the world’s wisdom traditions. He has selected perspectives on courage, hope, joy, enlightenment, faith and love from seers such as Lao-tsu, Jesus, Mahatma Gandhi and Mother Theresa, and paired them with his own striking landscape images.

“But his deeper purpose,” McNulty suggested, “is to place these visionary words within a larger context: the beauty of nature, the source of human wisdom.”

Don’t look for exotic gear such as ice axe or climbing harness in this photographer’s collection of tools. There is a reason that most admirers feel a sense of familiarity with the locations represented in his work.

“In most cases I shoot from roads, highways and accessible attractions,” said Heinemann. “My passion is to experience and represent my time at each place in a special, profound way.”

He continues: “I hear a lot of talk about technique this, camera that – but the only issue for me is ‘Why are you taking this photo?’ When you know why you are taking the picture, the ‘how to’ will become clear.”

“The most pleasing feedback I’ve gotten all these years from people who have purchased my books, calendars and prints is something like this: ‘These are things I’ve seen before, but I see them in a new way in your photos. I see them as I have never seen before – new and refreshing.’”

“What we photograph is an expression of who and what we are – a visual manifestation of our spirit,” he said. “Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote: ‘The seer and the seeing are but the same.’ That sentiment is both spiritual and quantum physics. There is no separation between the photographer and the landscape. In looking at a photographer’s image, you are seeing the very essence of who the photographer is.”

“How do you become a better photographer?” he asks rhetorically. “Become a more aware person.”

In terms of the more traditional aspects of career as a professional photographer, writer and publisher, Heinemann talks about the process of collecting images and in most cases, matching them with verse.

“I put a folder on my computer desktop,” he said. “It could be months ahead of my next project, a year in advance. As I work day to day I collect the images from inspired moments, gathering them first into a big file and later separating them into chapters. I also write as I am inspired. Then I start to organize…”

Over the years Heinemann’s scope of accomplishments has broadened to include not only prints, calendars and books, but videos featuring his photographs accompanied by original music and collected verse.

It was photography that served him well when in 2000, at the age of 49, he was diagnosed and had surgery for prostate cancer. Heinemann chose to focus on “a journey of healing explored through photography and writing,” a journey which continues to this day.

He wrote of his successful battle with cancer, and life since: “It is a journey which seeks to understand the greater dimensions of human experience, higher awareness, and the deeper meaning and possibilities our lives present.”

Toward that end, he has added to his list of projects the creation of a series of inspirational videos that form the basis of speaking presentations that explore healing and higher awareness.

A Heinemann video titled “The Art of Nature: Reflections on the Grand Design,” was narrated by Emmy Award winning actor Tom Skerritt. It received the Gold Award at the 1996 Houston International Film Festival for best music video, and was broadcast over 140 public television stations in the U.S. In 1993 he was recipient of the Virginia Merrill Bloedel Lecture Fellow Award, established “to recognize and promote the accomplishments of individuals who have contributed to the welfare of nature.”

Heinemann’s travels have taken him around the United States. Stunning photographic evidence of his adventures range from a pond in Upstate New York to moonset over Monument Valley in Utah.

What the photographer cannot conceal (who said he’s trying?) is his passionate love affair with the Pacific Northwest. “Stars” of his regional work include majestic Mt. Baker, iconic Olympic Peninsula, sparkling San Juan Islands and of course, one-of-a-kind Fidalgo Island, home to mountain, beaches, forest, lakes and meadows.

“Washington State,” he wrote, “is a magnificent land of dynamic contrasts. It is a land born of fire, sculpted by ice and molded by the forces of time. It’s a landscape of diverse microclimates and geological features and expressions that arrest the senses. It is a living painting unfolding before our very eyes.”

Look for Heinemann’s latest book in November. Soon to be produced and presented as well is a multimedia concert of his images, music, and narrative titled: “The Nature of Life The Power Within and The Fine Art of Healing,” intended to “celebrate the infinite strength and courage of the human spirit, and the healing power of nature.”

To learn more about the photographer and his other projects, visit

Washington – The Art of the Lanscape is available for pre-order at: It will begin shipping Nov. 26. Stock is limited so early ordering is advised. It will also be available on Amazon after December 1.

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