Local Photographer Featured in Arts Council Display

Doug Deer

Hunting is a popular pastime in Highland County, both for residents and visitors. However, not all hunting is done with guns, and some hunting is meant to preserve the prey, rather than end its existence.

Doug Puffenbarger is a farmer and school bus driver living in the Blue Grass Valley of Highland County. An avid hunter in earlier life, Doug now prefers to stalk animals with his camera instead of a rifle or bow.

“Well, It’s still a challenge, probably more challenging than it is hunting with a gun, to get close enough to get a really good photo – and once you have, and you push the shutter release button, it’s like “Yep, I gotcha”. But no work to it – no mess, no work – preserved forever.”

Mr. Puffenbarger spoke about what sparked his interest, and the work that goes on after the picture is taken.

“Mainly just seeing things while I was out working on the farm, like sunrises and sunsets, and thought it would be neat to have a little point and shoot camera to carry along with me to capture some of the things I was seeing.  So that’s mainly how I got started – checking out things online, and by experience.  You take a picture, and if it’s not good, you delete it and try something else.

“A lot of my photos, people will come up to you and say “Wow, you must have a really good camera.” Which, a camera has a little bit to do with it, but you can also take a less expensive camera and take just as good of a photo as you can with an expensive one. It’s not all in the camaera, like knowing the right settings, the lighting, getting it right, and all like that.

“The way I do it is, you can edit them on the camera itself, which I do, and then some people go to Photoshop, which I don’t have a Photoshop program. We’ve got like a free thing that we downloaded. My wife Terri helps with that end of it. After I do the work on the camera, she’s like my second editor that checks out everything I do, and if it doesn’t pass her inspection, it gets deleted. If it wouldn’t be for her, I guess there wouldn’t be nearly as much fuss over my photos, because people wouldn’t see them if it hadn’t been for her.”

His photography has won awards and acclaim, and he has branched out to doing custom shoots.

“Senator Mark Warner had a contest to see who could get their photo on his cover page on Facebook, and it was my photo and another one, I think, tied, and each one of us got like a month on his page – that was like the first thing. Then I got a contest for an iPad mini, which I won that. And then Scenic Virginia has a contest that I’ve got honorable mention three or four times, and at the fair a few times, blue ribbon here and there, Grand Champion a time or two,

“I’ve done senior portraits, family photos, group photos. I’ve probably turned down  10 or 12 weddings, but that’s something I’m really not interested in, weddings.

“Well, I don’t really call myself a professional. I don’t advertise, I just do it for fun, and if the kids ask me to do it, I just help them out and do it, because usually if they get professionals to do it, that can be quite expensive.”

A number of Mr. Puffenbarger’s photographs are currently featured in the Highland Arts Councils’ display titled “The Way I See It” at the Highland County Public Library through Friday.

Story By

Scott Smith

Scott Smith is the General Manager for Allegheny Mountain Radio and Station Coordinator and News Reporter for WVLS. Scott’s family has deep roots in Highland County. While he did not grow up here, he spent as much time as possible on the family farm, and eventually moved to Highland to continue the tradition, which he still pursues with his cousin. Unfortunately, farming doesn’t pay all the bills, so he has previously taken other jobs to support his farming hobby, including pressman/writer for The Recorder, and Ag Projects Coordinator for The Highland Center. He lives in Hightown with wife Michelle and son Ethan. In his spare time, he wishes he had more spare time, especially to ride his prized Harley-Davidson motorcycle. scott@amrmail.org

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