Bryan Schutmaat

Grays The Mountain Sends


“Grays the Mountain Sends” combines portraits, landscapes, and still lifes in a series of photos that explores the lives of working people residing in small mountain towns and mining communities in the American West. Equipped with a large format view camera, and inspired by the poetry of Richard Hugo, I’ve aimed to hint at narratives and relay the experiences of strangers met in settings that spur my own emotions. Ultimately, this body of work is a meditation on small town life, the landscape, and more importantly, the inner landscapes of common men.



Bryan Schutmaat’s photography has been widely exhibited and published the United States and overseas. Recently, he won the first place prize in CENTER’s Gallerist’s Choice Award (Santa Fe). In 2011, he was awarded the Carol Crow Memorial Fellowship along with his first solo show at the Houston Center for Photography. Bryan’s work has been published in Hotshoe International, Vice, CNN, Aesthetica, PDN, Exit Magazine, Houston Chronicle, Spot, The New York Times Inc., Bloomberg Businessweek, Suddeutsche Zeitung, and the Collector’s Guide to Emerging Art Photography, among many others. His photos can be found in the permanent collection at the Museum of fine Arts, Houston and numerous private collections. He holds a BA in history from the University of Houston and an MFA in photography from Hartford Art School. His first book “Grays the Mountain Sends” will be published in 2014.


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Bryan Schutmaat


14 thoughts on “Bryan Schutmaat – Grays The Mountain Sends”

  1. Great work!
    especially I’ve touched by the portraits.
    languid eyes shows up well against conifer forests.
    It is a relief for me that the last portrait of boy has different eyes..
    Thank you for great work.

  2. Alhough I have spent the past 32 years in Alaska, I know all the country and people photographed in this essay, even if not the specific spots and individuals. This brings it all back, makes me wonder why I left and also reminds me of why I had to leave and go to a place more wild and empty. Great job.

    Thanks especially for #13 – the Clark’s Fork, the great river of my childhood – although I knew it best in Montana, not Idaho. Actually, that’s where my Alaska dream was born. I loved the mountains, I loved the whole west, the idea of the west, but I knew that what I loved was past, could no never again be, and that if I had any chance at all of ever finding it, I had to go north.

    Brilliant work. Positively brilliant.

  3. love this work, bryan is up and coming and coming on strong. and yet while i love it as a body of work, i feel like i’m looking at images made by alec soth. does that even matter? i have no idea… original, derivative, from whence sprung soth, even???

    judging by the accolades and recognition from all who have noticed mr schutmaat’s work, my hesitation is thus probably wholly unfounded and specious… anyone care to straighten my out? bryan?


  4. Really like the work but can’t help wonder if anybody up there is happy to be there?

    Even the mounted bighorn sheep has the same sullen, longing look as the humans :)

  5. magisterial, sublime and full of grace……

    the land, the interiors, the portraits….

    the light and the leavened land are gathering and galloping all over these places, these men and, now, each of us….

    the break each of us wide open in the connecting…

    congratulations Bryan, a work of great love and loving greatness….


    Underwater Autumn

    Now the summer perch flips twice and glides
    a lateral fathom at the first cold rain,
    the surface near to silver from a frosty hill.
    Along the weed and grain of log he slides his tail.

    Nervously the trout (his stream-toned heart
    locked in the lake, his poise and nerve disgraced)
    above the stirring catfish, curves in bluegill dreams
    and curves beyond the sudden thrust of bass.

    Surface calm and calm act mask the detonating fear,
    the moving crayfish claw, the stare
    of sunfish hovering above the cloud-stained sand,
    a sucker nudging cans, the grinning maskinonge.

    How do carp resolve the eel and terror here?
    They face so many times this brown-ribbed fall of leaves
    predicting weather foreign as a shark or prawn
    and floating still above them in the paling sun.

    –Richard Hugo

  6. This stopped me in my tracks, the most powerful thing I’ve seen on burn for a long time.

    It is brutal and beautiful, surreal and familiar. I feel like I am there, I feel like I am these men.

    Inner landscapes and outer landscapes yes, but I also see this as a metaphor for the failure of the “American Dream”. The land of hope and glory now the land of hopelessness and decay. The men beaten, the land desecrated.

    A tech note: This is a wonderful example of how the rendering of large format cameras creates such a unique hyper-reality. I especially love how the medium shots, #8 in particular, shows us a non-compressed out of focus background, with the subject in sharp relief. This is my favourite shot of the series and is tremendously evocative.


  7. Hmm, and I just reread Gordon’s comments. He brilliantly expressed what I could not easily define for myself. There is a sense of mystery here too. This is the way I see the old mining towns in Idaho and Montana – some within the nation’s largest superfund site. They stripped not only the land. While I am no critic, this really is brilliant, deliberate work and most of all, real. Much respect to you.

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