Montana Photographic Arts is owned and operated by husband and wife team Gene Rodman and Tracy Shaw.
I have always had an interest in photography and after experiencing the beauty of Yosemite as a teenager realized what an amazing affect nature has on me. I have traveled extensively throughout the western United States and have taken many photographs to record my adventures.
In 1994 I chose Red Lodge, a small town in Montana, to start a new life where I met my wife Tracy. In 2003 we bought 20 acres north of town where we built our gallery and studio. The gallery showcases ours and other regional photographer's fine art landscape artwork. I also teach photography classes to new and intermediate photographers. Our gallery is also set up to help educate the public regarding different methods of photography. We have been studying with photographer of the year in Australia, Sue Bryce to learn how to take glamorous portraits of women. We find it very fulfilling to watch a woman realize how beautiful she really is and to learn to lovingly accept herself.
It is our intention to create a welcoming atmosphere at our gallery/studio where people can feel comfortable being photographed or browse the beautiful artwork on our walls. I love to talk photography with anyone who is interested. Our gallery is located 5.5 miles north of Red Lodge right off highway 212. Our normal operating hours are Thurs-Sun 10-5 or call (406) 446-0335 to make an appointment.
Gene Rodman and Tracy Shaw
Tracy Shaw’s Bio.:
My interest in photography began when I was a teenager. My first job was working at Kmart in the camera department. The manager showed me the basics on how to operate 35mm cameras and when business was slow I would take out a camera and work with it. I received my first 35mm right after the birth of my son in 1986 as a gift from my parents.
Not having any formal training in photography I tried to do the best I could with the limited knowledge I had. The majority of my photographs were candid photographs of my family. I kept the camera in manual mode so I could have more control and it forced me to think about what elements went into each image.
After moving to Montana in 1992 I realized how raw and unpolished nature really is compared to the areas I grew up in in California where it seemed everything, even the weather had been tamed by man and was predictable. Here in Montana things seemed to be more like they should be, just as they are. If there is an old barn falling down, it isn’t immediately replaced with something new and shiny. It is left to be and nature can take its course.
I got the opportunity to expand my photography knowledge when I met Gene Rodman who was an avid photographer. We enjoyed hiking, backpacking, and traveling together and he always had his camera equipment with him. I was amazed at the quality of the images he produced and seeing the creative process in front of me inspired me to delve into areas of photography I had never been before. Each outing provided another opportunity to learn from him. I slowly began to “see” photographs everywhere we went. I noticed one of the biggest changes in me through photography was realizing that there was beauty in everything. Scenes I passed off as ordinary, boring, or ugly before, I now realized had beauty if I noticed a sense of patterns, textures, colors, geometric shapes, or shadows. I was beginning to see outside the box. Everything had value.
The first time I saw Gene’s nude photography I was impressed not only by the beauty and quality of the images but I could see that they were created with art as the goal. I had never seen the female figure portrayed so respectfully before and it opened a whole new world to me. I became his model and continue to model for him to this day. Being a model also introduced me to the creative process of art. When I first started modeling the entire creative process was through Gene’s vision but quickly became a collaborative process between the two of us as I became more confident and comfortable in my own body and as we realized the images were much more powerful when I allowed my body to just move naturally instead of forcing it into a preconceived pose.
I then became interested in photographing the nude body when I began to have my own ideas of images I wanted to create. Being on the other side of the camera made me realize that creating an image that I wanted to be viewed as art was not as easy as I thought. It was a learning process that required a lot of patience and attention to detail. I also learned that if one of us had a spontaneous inspiration for an image we needed to trust it and act on it to see where it would take us. Those inspirations have led us to create some of our best images.
Over the years I have seen firsthand how society is constantly showing us images of unrealistic “perfect” bodies and how that should be our ideal. I now realize that everyone’s body is beautiful in its own right and I love being a part of creating images of people as art so hopefully the models and others can let go of the notion of the perfect body and learn to appreciate theirs more fully.