Artist Spotlight: Captivated by Nature

by Amanda Bedgood

Backpacker manager by day and aspiring photographer with an eye on the outdoors, Eric Svendson is making his mark.

Backpacker manager by day and aspiring photographer with an eye on the outdoors, Eric Svendson is making his mark. By Amanda Bedgood

Monday, July 1, 2013

Photo by Robin May

It's clear Eric Svendson loves the great outdoors. He's a nature man through and through. From the stark black and white of an alligator's belly to the haunting images of aged cypress trunks, his photos are an homage to more than the landscape of Acadiana. They take particular note of the sort of details that make up the greater picture of what we think of as Louisiana in the wild.

"I grew up hunting and fishing my whole life and watching the sunrises and the sunsets and having an appreciation for it," Eric says. "I started taking pictures to remember it, and it's developed into something different."

What it's developed into is a growing collection of work that's increasingly appreciated by those who collect it. And it all started but seven years ago in a class at STM. During his senior year, 2006, he took a half semester dark room photography class working with film. His love for the art was immediate.

"It was as soon as I developed that first picture," he says. "When I watched it appear out of nowhere it stuck with me."

He sold his first piece at the Big Easel that year in a zip lock bag for $13.50. This year he shared a tent with artist (his mother and biggest fan) Lue Svendson. You can find both of their work at their gallery on Vermilion Street downtown.

"Without my mom I wouldn't be where I am today," Eric says frankly.

He says his family has been an incredible support; at this point the man with a degree in business and full time job at The Backpacker as a manager is not making firm plans.

"I love the outdoors, and I've been at Backpacker since 2009 and doing photography at the same time. In the end I'm just doing what I can do to be happy. Doing both at the same time lets me do everything I love and work at the same time," he says. "I'm working hard at those things and seeing where it takes me."

Thus far it's taken him into the deep recesses of wood and rice fields edged with snakes, face to face with many an alligator. The gators, you see, he's shot in more ways than one.

"I've been hunting alligators for 10 years, and I'm a registered alligator hunter in the state," he says.

So whether by camera or firearm, these cold-blooded creatures will find themselves a target. And while it's the alligator photo that most certainly captured this writer's attention, Eric says his favorite subject seems to be the pelican.

"I don't know why. I find them fascinating. As I go through my photos I realize how many pictures of pelicans I have, and I didn't do it on purpose," he says.

Nature, he knows, has a way of capturing us humans perhaps more than we could ever capture it.