After many years photographing building exteriors and interiors at Bodie, Tim Messick felt there wasn't much new or different to capture there. Then he realized that by embracing the window reflections he had been struggling to exclude from his images, he could bring surprising new depth and complexity to his compositions. That was a breakthrough for Messick, not just in image-making, but also in how he explores and experiences the place. Now he looks for reflections to include in his images deliberately — by carefully composing them in-camera, then balancing light, shadow, and contrast in post-processing. He hopes that these moody "found collages" — with multiple layers of foreground, background, and reflection — may provoke a different kind of reflection, on the past, present, and future of this once famously boisterous mining town.
Tim Messick lived in Carmel for most of his early years, so by the time he was 10 or 12 he was already being influenced by the work of Ansel Adams, Edward Weston, and many other photographers in the Carmel-Monterey area. Before long he knew he wanted to make images just like theirs. During high school (in Santa Barbara), photography became an all-consuming passion, strengthened by attending 3 consecutive Easter week photography workshops at the Friends of Photography, back in Carmel. Summer travels with his father were often to Yosemite, and a couple of times, across the Sierra Nevada to Bodie State Historic Park, in Mono County.
In college, however, a passion for natural history took hold — stirred by all those visits to the Sierra Nevada and beyond — and he decided to major in botany, especially field-oriented plant identification and ecology. For his M.A. thesis he chose to compile a local flora of the Bodie Hills, a biologically diverse area of more than 400 square miles surrounding the town of Bodie.
Tim's first career was as a botanist with the environmental consulting firm of Jones & Stokes, in Sacramento. After 13 very good years in that role, an urge to become more visually creative and less stressed by litigious clients prompted a move into graphic design — focusing on information graphics and cartography for another 23 years. He retired in 2020 from his position as senior graphic designer at ICF (formerly Jones & Stokes) in Sacramento.
Currently, Tim's botanical (and photographic) activity in the Bodie Hills continues with recent updates of the local flora he began compiling 40 years ago (more about that at BodieHillsPlants.com). More of Tim's photography can be viewed at TimMessick.com.