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Hugh J. Lawton

Hugh Joseph Lawton’s passion for photography and nature has been a life-long pursuit that has culminated in his current comprehensive, and breathtaking, collection of over 2,000 photographic prints from more than 100 wilderness locations on five continents.

Born in Oak Park, Illinois, Hugh was surrounded by the historical and artistic influences of Frank Lloyd Wright, Ernest Hemingway and Edgar Rice Burroughs (all celebrated residents of Oak Park), which contributed to his interests in the arts.  During the course of his studies at institutions like Western Michigan University, Columbia College and UC Berkeley, Hugh’s love for the arts and sciences extended to music, mathematics, anthropology, philosophy, foreign cultures, and computer sciences.  It was his fascination with philosophy and anthropology that led to his studies in foreign cultures, and subsequently to world travel; and, his intrigue with mathematics that directed him to computer science.  Hugh established a successful 27-year career in software development working with Fortune 500 corporations.  But, like his mentor, Eliot Porter (who quit his lucrative medical post at MIT), Hugh shifted his primary focus to his passion for photography in 1987.

Hugh’s first encounter with the western wilderness began in the 1970’s when he moved to Randle, Washington.   In this small town in the Washington Cascades, he lived on a 79-acre homestead in Gifford Pinchot national forest.   Two years later, his thirty-year quest exploring the California wilderness was set in motion.

Today, of the more than 100 wilderness areas he has photographed, sixty-five of them are in California.  Coming from a background of manicured environments and logic Hugh was enthralled with the wilderness lands that had not been modified by the hand of man – the random beauty of nature.  He experienced the Oneness in the natural world, which reinforced his long standing anthropological and philosophical interests.  Following the track of the Nature Conservancy, he began his pursuit in extending “wilderness consciousness” beyond the physical boundaries of the wilderness areas.  His goal is to document the wilderness vistas that were common to ancient man.


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