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Bruns shares images

Tom Bruns is surrounded by examples of his photography in the lobby of the Fine Arts Building at Minnesota West Community and Technical College, Worthington campus. An exhibit of Bruns' work will continue through early January at the college.

WORTHINGTON -- When Tom Bruns set out to capture images to display at Minnesota West Community and Technical College, he let his camera determine the exhibit's direction.

"I'll go out and take a few pictures here, a few pictures there, see what I've got and where I'm leaning toward," he explained. "In this case, it turned out to be things that have been left behind, man-made things that have been left behind."

The resulting exhibit opens Friday with a reception from 7 to 8:30 p.m. and will hang in the Fine Arts Building until Jan. 9. It's the second time Bruns has exhibited at this alma mater. A 1989 graduate of Worthington High School, Bruns earned an associate's degree from Minnesota West, a degree in commercial and portrait photography from Hawkeye Community College in Waterloo, Iowa, and a bachelor's degree in K-12 arts education from Southwest Minnesota State University in Marshall.

After a couple of stints of substitute teaching, Bruns is currently in his first year teaching fulltime in the Fairmont school system. He and his wife, Anne, and their two daughters, Tayler, 14, and Bailey, 11, live in Worthington.

Bruns' interest in photography stems back to his high school years and a photography class with instructor Tricia Mikle. He honed his picture-taking skills by working part-time at the Daily Globe and at Ax Photo in Worthington.

"I like looking at things in a different way," he said about what piqued his interest in photography, "being able to capture things the way I see them."

Although he continues to do some portrait and commercial work on the side, Bruns most enjoys the artistic side of photography.

"It's a lot easier working with things that don't talk back," he said with a grin. "And with teaching and everything else, I've kind of got my hands full."

But he did find time to capture a multitude of images for the Minnesota West exhibit -- enough to fully cover the lobby walls. He wanted to do something different from his last exhibit, which mostly focused on flora and fauna.

The genesis of this exhibit dates back to some images from his senior exhibit at SMSU. Those photos feature an abandoned Studebaker on a relative's farm.

Now they are joined by images of other abandoned items: a rusted motor oil can, a threadbare curtain caught on a window latch, a teapot shot through the window of an abandoned house, a manure spreader in a grove, the spokes of a wheel, an old boot among some grasses.

The exhibit is a mixture of black-and-white and color photos.

"Some just really pop, and some look blah in color," Bruns reflected. "Some look a lot better in black and white. Sometimes I can't decide, so I print up both."

With a pigmented Inkjet printer, Bruns does all his own printing, using acid-free paper. He also mats and frames everything with museum-quality components and builds the frames from scratch. Everything is for sale and is available for Christmas delivery, Bruns emphasized.

With the exception of the Studebaker photos, which were shot using a 4X5 camera, the images on display were all captured with a digital camera. The advances in digital photography make experimentation much easier for professionals such as Bruns as well as amateurs, for whom he had a few words of advice.

"Get more into it," he said. "With digital, that's a lot easier. You can go out and shoot up a storm and not have the expense, so take a lot of pictures, get different perspectives, even if it means tromping through the mud. Get out there and get dirty."

After a couple of stints of substitute teaching, Bruns is currently in his first year teaching fulltime in the Fairmont school system. He and his wife, Anne, and their two daughters, Tayler, 14, and Bailey, 11, live in Worthington.

Bruns' interest in photography stems back to his high school years and a photography class with instructor Tricia Mikle. He honed his picture-taking skills by working part-time at the Daily Globe and at Ax Photo in Worthington.

"I like looking at things in a different way," he said about what piqued his interest in photography, "being able to capture things the way I see them."

Although he continues to do some portrait and commercial work on the side, Bruns most enjoys the artistic side of photography.

"It's a lot easier working with things that don't talk back," he said with a grin. "And with teaching and everything else, I've kind of got my hands full."

But he did find time to capture a multitude of images for the Minnesota West exhibit -- enough to fully cover the lobby walls. He wanted to do something different from his last exhibit, which mostly focused on flora and fauna.

The genesis of this exhibit dates back to some images from his senior exhibit at SMSU. Those photos feature an abandoned Studebaker on a relative's farm.

Now they are joined by images of other abandoned items: a rusted motor oil can, a threadbare curtain caught on a window latch, a teapot shot through the window of an abandoned house, a manure spreader in a grove, the spokes of a wheel, an old boot among some grasses.

The exhibit is a mixture of black-and-white and color photos.

"Some just really pop, and some look blah in color," Bruns reflected. "Some look a lot better in black and white. Sometimes I can't decide, so I print up both."

With a pigmented Inkjet printer, Bruns does all his own printing, using acid-free paper. He also mats and frames everything with museum-quality components and builds the frames from scratch. Everything is for sale and is available for Christmas delivery, Bruns emphasized.

With the exception of the Studebaker photos, which were shot using a 4X5 camera, the images on display were all captured with a digital camera. The advances in digital photography make experimentation much easier for professionals such as Bruns as well as amateurs, for whom he had a few words of advice.

"Get more into it," he said. "With digital, that's a lot easier. You can go out and shoot up a storm and not have the expense, so take a lot of pictures, get different perspectives, even if it means tromping through the mud. Get out there and get dirty."

Beth Rickers

Beth Rickers is the veteran in the newspaper staff with 25 years as the Daily Globe's Features Editor. Interests include cooking, traveling and beer tasting and making with her home-brewing husband, Bryan. She writes an Area Voices blog called Lagniappe, which is a Creole term that means "a little something extra." It can be found at http://lagniappe.areavoices.com/.  

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