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Vashon’s beauty inspired international portraits

January 1, 2014 · Updated 9:52 AM
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“Heat” is one of several photos from Africa and India by Nicholas Wiesnet that will be on display at The Hardware Store Restaurant this month. / Nicholas Wiesnet

By JULI GOETZ MORSER

What is it about an island with a small population that produces such a large number of artists? For Vashon native and cinematographer Nicholas Wiesnet, 25, it’s all about observing nature, color and the randomness of light.

As a cinematographer who currently lives and works out of Los Angeles, Wiesnet has spread his artistic wings across the globe, inspired by the roots of his island home.

“I was conscious of the beautiful light on the island; it is so different in each of the seasons. I always admired the natural beauty around me,” said Wiesnet, whose photographs from Ethiopia and India will be on display beginning Jan. 3 at The Hardware Store Restaurant.

The son of two documentary producer/directors, Wiesnet never imagined his path would lead to cinematography. His early interests included all things artistic, from cartoon drawing to architecture, with a later focus on photography in high school. While he loved the way film captured light, something went missing from photography for Wiesnet. When he realized cinematography enlivened still images with movement, his passion for the medium took off.

“I will always do photography,” said Wiesnet, “but as a profession, cinematography is it.”

1With a quiet chuckle, Wiesnet added that his parents were thrilled with his choice.

After filming a documentary in the Omo River Valley of Ethiopia, an area bordering Kenya and South Sudan that National Geographic calls the final frontier of Africa, Wiesnet stayed on to photograph the Kara and Hamur tribes of the region. “The Kara are incredibly generous and kind people,” Wiesnet said. “My experience there has profoundly affected my world view.” Twelve photographs from that trip will be part of the upcoming show.

Following another job filming a documentary on healthcare in Kolkata, India, Wiesnet took his still camera and traveled north to Rajasthan, where he shot numerous portraits, a dozen of which will line the back gallery walls at the restaurant.

Southeast Asia tops Wiesnet’s photography wish list. Paid work interrupted his recent plans to visit Myanmar and Vietnam, shelving that trip for now, but Wiesnet’s motivation runs deep, and he seems undeterred. “Compassion is at the heart of everything I do. I’ll do this for the rest of my life.”

An artist’s reception will be Friday, Jan. 3.

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