After Hours: an architect behind the camera

For Jim Larson, a keen eye for composition and all facets of architectural design, links his professional experience as an architect to his pursuits in photography.

“Photography is connected to my day job but also connected to the way I see the world,” says Larson.

A world he frequently sees during his travels abroad accompanied by his wife of 41-years, Debra, and his camera, a Nikon D7100 DSLR. Together they’ve been to most of Europe and plan on returning to Italy in November.

Jim Larson showing off his catch, a after fishing in Canada

Jim Larson showing off his catch, a chinook salmon, after fishing in Canada in 2011. (Photo courtesy of Jim Larson)

That of course is when he is not at work as owner of Larson Associates Architects, Inc., a firm he started in 1995.

His journey as an architect began in 1966 at the University of Illinois where he earned his undergraduate and graduate degrees.

In 1973, his first job out of school led him to Arizona where he worked as a local architect while teaching architecture classes at the University of Arizona for 14 years. He later moved to Phoenix in 1987 and joined the Arizona State University faculty as a part-time adjunct for three years.

Before Larson knew he wanted to be an architect, he started developing a passion for photography back in high school.

He learned a few photography techniques and how to develop his own film from the 35mm camera he used back in the day.

Over the years, his gear has gradually improved as better cameras hit the market, but he admits being glad he learned to develop his own film even though it was a pain.

“I try to stay true to what you do to old traditional film,” he explains. “Like adjusting rotation so images are straight, adjusting contrast, color saturation and only about a half dozen other traditional techniques.”

His knack for producing striking photographs from his travels has landed his works in various different art galleries over the years and even in the possession some fans who have purchased his photos.

Larson currently has two photos of his trips abroad on display in the Herberger Gallery display at the Arizona Center. However, his first art show that he was ever featured in resulted from visiting Cuba as part of a 10-person cultural exchange for architects and artists in the fall of 2010.

He says his visual training as an architect enables him to identify and pick out things to compose in his photographs, which he shares with other photography enthusiasts who are fellow members of the Photographers Adventures Club’s Facebook group.

In addition to photography, Larson also tried his hand with salmon fishing 15 years ago and he adds, “It’s safe to say, ‘I was hooked.’”

Every year around late July or early August, he packs a light bag and takes a single-engine seaplane with his fishing buddies to the Coastal Springs Float Lodge, a cabin on a raft about 200 miles north of Vancouver, B.C.

The group of fisherman then take out an 18-foot trolling boat and set up their rigs in hopes of catching the 50-pound limits allowed by their fishing permits.

Although Larson didn’t catch his 50-pound limit this year, he still remembers the biggest fish he ever caught like it was yesterday, a 34-pound chinook salmon in 2011.