For 30 years, local photographer Tore Ofteness has boarded small airplanes to document the Pacific Northwest from the air. In his photography, Ofteness captures iconic images such as a vivid carpet of tulips in the Skagit Valley, shifting sunlight on the Salish Sea, the full moon over the Cascades, and commercial vessels threading the San Juan Islands. Now, more than 100 images from Ofteness’ decades-long career are showcased in A Higher Perspective: Aerial Photography of the Pacific Northwest, published by Village Books’ Chuckanut Editions imprint.
“I wanted to publish this book because most people will never see our region from such a perspective,” Ofteness says. “Selecting the images was a challenge. I don’t know how many I have in file cabinets and as digital files, but these were some of my favorites. I could probably add another 100, but that can wait for Vol. 2.”
In the foreword, Ofteness explains the book title: “When I was a boy in rural Norway, I used to climb trees because I liked the higher perspective. Some years later, I enlisted in the U.S. Army and was trained to be an airplane and helicopter mechanic. I spent much time in the air as a passenger, intrigued by the view from a couple thousand feet above the earth. At this time I also took my first aerial photos from a helicopter.”
In the years following his military service, Ofteness studied commercial photography at Seattle Community College and was the photo editor of the Klipsun magazine and Western Front newspaper when he was a student at Western Washington University in the 1970s. Following graduation from Western, he started his life as a freelance photographer in Bellingham. Aerial photography for commercial clients has been the mainstay of his career. In 2014, Ofteness was presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Professional Aerial Photographers Association, International. That same year, he received a Mayor’s Arts Award from the city of Bellingham.
The more than 100 full-color photos in the book are organized by five subjects: mountains, land, cities, industries and water. In brief text accompanying the images, Ofteness shares memories of photo sessions and comments regarding subjects he returns to regularly such as the Cascade Range. In captions accompanying his familiar panoramic photos, Ofteness reveals technical details that enable him to capture the impressive shots.
Ofteness has watched the local landscape change in the years he has been doing aerial photography. “The two biggest changes I have seen are the growth of Bellingham, with the advent of Bellis Fair and the increase in retail venues,” he says. “The second big change has been the waterfront and the demise of Georgia Pacific, which I have documented thoroughly. Only the mountains remain the same.”
“We are honored to print this stunning collection of Tore’s photography,” says Village Books co-owner Kelly Evert. “The intent of our Chuckanut Editions imprint is to showcase the stories and images of this special place we call home. With A Higher Perspective, we honor Tore and the grandeur of the Pacific Northwest, which he has so beautifully captured through his lens. Through his aerial photography, we see a rare and wonderful view of our corner of the world.” The $24.95 book published Nov. 30 is available at Village Books in Fairhaven and Lynden. A Higher Perspective may also be ordered online at villagebooks.com. There is a limited quantity of signed copies at Village Books in Fairhaven.
Village Books’ Chuckanut Editions has published more than 30 books since fall 2009. Past titles include Nooksack Wanderings by Bob Kandiko; Big Ole by Todd Warger, Ellen Clark and Ruth Tabrach; Haunted Fairhaven by Taimi Dunn Gorman; It Takes a Village Books by Chuck Robinson; and Koma Kulshan: the Story of Mt. Baker by John C. Miles. For more information about Chuckanut Editions, contact publishing director Brendan Clark, email@example.com.