ABOUT fractalfotos

About Tim Gohrke, Photographer

Tim and Scout at Evergreen Lookout

Tim is the artistic and technical skill side of fractalfotos.  A graduate from Brooks Institute of Photography in 1977, Tim started in his early twenties as an architectural and technical photographer.  Later his professional career took a related path in the graphic arts and printing industry, while landscape photography became his passion.

Tim was part of the beginning of the wide-format digital inkjet printing industry as a sales representative for National Graphics (now IJ Technologies), a coater of photographic paper and an early entrant in ink jet formulations and coatings.  He was also a sales representative for X-Rite, where he learned the science and technology of color management. Tim excelled at the intersection of art and technology; how to obtain the best results from a wide variety of inkjet printers, different ink formulations, different substrates and coatings and different software and equipment manufacturers.

Tim and Deborah Gohrke founded Magellan, a distribution company for digital imaging supplies in 1998. Tim would focus on developing products that solved problems and/or filled a need. Deborah would handle the marketing and management side of the business. This experience further honed Tim’s expertise in printing technology, media and inks, and in understanding how to produce high resolution, large-format images. To this day, Tim insists on printing his own artwork. In 2001, Paper Manufacturer’s Company, a 100 year old organization headquartered in Cincinnati, Ohio, purchased Magellan.  Tim subsequently devoted himself to photography, while maintaining his connection with the printing and graphic arts industry as a consultant and importer of specialty paper.

Cultivate a sensitivity to nuance. Subtle landscapes can be enduringly interesting.

Artist Statement

I have always been drawn to landscape photography.  Other genres like portrait or product photography are not as interesting to me.  While attending Brooks Institute I took a required wedding photography class. During a mock wedding, the instructor proclaimed, “There are no ugly brides.”  Landscape photography, in contrast to wedding photography, requires no suspension of belief.  

Brooks Institute provided me with a foundation on the technical dimensions of photography, all pre-digital. I graduated with a working knowledge of arcane terminology like “reciprocity failure,” “shadow masking,” and “portrait mice.” But I gained a strong foundation in the science of photography. Now I have fully embraced digital technology. From film to digital, I have always had a curiosity and a longing to discover what was photographically possible, how to make the image the most interesting it can be.

I am focused on blending the art and science of photography in order to produce enduring images that are able to hold a viewers interest over time. I try to avoid an exaggerated wow factor and cliches.  I think these types of images tend to grow old rather quickly.  I believe it takes more skill to show the familiar in an exceptional way than than it does to show the extraordinary.

Early in my adult life I had jobs rich in stress and conflict. I put photographs and illustrations that I liked on my office wall.  When I stared at them while on the phone I found I was less inclined to react to conflict and the emotions others were experiencing. Deborah recently observed that what I did intuitively to keep myself calm, putting interesting images on my office wall, is called a “positive distraction” in healthcare art research.

About Deborah Gohrke, Ed.D., EDAC

Deborah with Scout and Bud.

Deborah is the principal and co-founder of fractalfotos. She has extensive business and marketing experience both in working for other organizations and in running her own business. She has a Bachelor of Science degree in business, a Masters in Ministry from Pepperdine University, and a Doctorate in Educational Leadership from Seattle University.  She is the author of The Role of Hope in Leadership (2008).  Prior to starting fractalfotos with Tim Gohrke, she taught at Seattle University for four years in the Master’s in Nonprofit Leadership Program.  Deborah obtained her EDAC certification in evidence-based design in 2012.

Deborah loves dogs, family, friends, people, learning, and nature. She is especially grateful to live in the Pacific Northwest. Someone once said that Seattle was the only modern city that people move to in order to be close to nature.

Seattle floating homes on Lake Union.

Deborah believes everyone needs places where they go to recover, places they go to remember, places that rekindle a sense of awe, or of peace, or of who they are. For her, it doesn’t get any better than hiking in a forest, on a undulating trail, alongside of a river.

Baker River Trail.

How fractalfotos Began

Deborah, Tim, Scout and Bud

Deborah used to joke that if Tim died before her she would start a business called, “The Photographer’s Widow.”  She would draw from the copious files of his work that no one had ever seen.  In the summer of 2011, as Tim and Deborah were driving home from hiking with their dogs, they were listening to a BBC broadcast about Evidence-based Design (EBD) research in healthcare.  A study was described in which patients who had views of nature needed less pain medication, complained less to staff, and were released earlier than patients without views of nature. The broadcast then described specific details, like an open prospect and a lack of ambiguity, in the kind of artwork that had a similar therapeutic effect as nature. It was an AH-HA! moment.  Deborah cried out, “Tim, most of what you shoot fits that criteria!”

Powdermilk biscuits: Heavens, they're tasty and expeditious! They're made from whole wheat, to give shy persons the strength to get up and do what needs to be done.—Garrison Keillor

She knew Tim wanted a purpose for his photographs other than as digital files that no one would see. But up until that moment trying to make a living by selling fine art photography never seemed like a particularly good idea. However, a business that was really good at creating a specific kind of artwork, artwork with a job to do, intended for a specific audience under specific conditions, and for which research showed that the benefits of the artwork far out-weighted the initial investment, THAT made sense.

Tim liked the idea that the focus would not be not on him, or his artwork, but on patients. His photography would have a useful purpose beyond his enjoyment. Finally, there seemed to be a way to apply Tim’s photographic artistry and technical skills toward fulfilling a real world need – alleviating anxiety and stress in patients in order to promote healing.

Perhaps the truth depends on a walk around the lake.—Wallace Stevens

Also, through fractalfotos, they might be able to find a way to cultivate a greater appreciation and respect for nature.   People born and raised in urban environments, immersed in technology, are said to suffer from nature deficit disorder (Louv, 2011).

But would anyone see in Tim’s work what Deborah saw?  What, if anything, would they feel? They didn’t know. They decided take a plunge and find out fast. Deborah and Tim held a public exhibition in Seattle, in November thru December of 2011. The exhibit was titled, Nature: Fine Art Landscape Photography for Healing Spaces, and featured 5 mural-sized works, 8 feet tall by 10 feet wide, and 26 large works approximately three feet tall by 4 feet wide.

Nature: Fine Art Landscape Photography for Healing Spaces
Exhibit at Nautical Landing, Seattle

They learned two really big lessons from the exhibit about how people experience and relate to landscape photography.  It seems obvious now, but it took a while to sink in.  First, Tim’s photography in digital form is not the final product. It wasn’t until they hung the finished photographic art on the wall that they realized what a critical factor seeing the actual art (versus a virtual representation) is for appreciating its value. In the case of evidence-based design, the artwork’s ability to kindle reflection and alleviate worry. Second, size matters a great deal in landscape photography. A regular photograph that works well on facebook or a webpage can quickly become a fuzzygraph when enlarged big enough to attract attention in a real-world environment.  The details that high resolution camera equipment can provide makes a big difference in the degree to which photographic artwork is able draw you into a scene, capture your interest, and hold it.

Colton Wheat Farm at Sunset

For example, the image shown here of a farm at sunset contains seven cows, in single file, walking up the draw. The cows remain invisible when the image is seen on your computer screen or printed in a small format. Deborah never saw those cows until Tim created a large-format print for the exhibit. What she had liked on a computer screen, she loved as a large print. It is precisely those kind of details that allow a large printed landscape scene to maintain your interest over a long period of time.

The exhibit experience and the reaction of the public to Tim’s work convinced them that they have something of value to offer the healthcare industry. During the exhibit, many people spontaneously shared intimate details of their lives with Deborah, especially related to their physical and psychological pain.  She will never forget the many wonderful people who visited the exhibit and the moments of connection made through the artwork.

A special visit by parents and their children to learn more about photography.

The exhibit featured art appropriate for healthcare environments according to evidence-based design research. But most of the art sold is now in private homes, in living rooms, hallways, and family rooms. Many people like representative nature art.

Why The Name fractalfotos

In 1975, mathematician Benoit Mandelbrot coined the term “fractal” in the first published paper on fractal geometry. In addition to many scientific applications, it was soon discovered that fractal geometry is unparalleled at measuring and modeling the world of natural phenomena or nature.

Natural fractals are infinitely repeating patterns found throughout nature. Coastlines, clouds, mountains, forests, trees, flowers, and waves are all examples of fractals. Once you know what you are looking for, it is hard not to see fractals everywhere. “Fractals, it turns out, are the very stuff of the universe” (Matthews, 2011).

The Great Wave Off Kanagawa—Katsushika Hokusai

Artists have long recognized the fractal nature of the universe. The nineteenth century Japanese artist Katsushika Hokusai’s famous woodblock print, “The Great Wave Off Kanagawa,” is a clear depiction of the fractal nature of waves.   Examine this image and you will see the curlicue pattern of waves repeated almost endlessly at smaller and smaller scales.  “We don’t know why repeating patterns are pleasing to the eye, but perhaps their existence in the natural world accounts, in part, for the calming influence of nature views,” according to Esther M. Sternberg, M.D. (2009).