Paitson Photography
The artist jeff paitson

News From Terre Haute, Indiana

August 12, 2010

Special to the Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — Each person has an artist within them, but many, either by choice or circumstances, never get the chance to express that talent. That’s what happened to River City Art Association’s August artist Jeff Paitson, owner of Paitson Bros. Heating & Air-Conditioning.

“I fell in love with photography during my teen years. One night while visiting a girlfriend, her father motioned for me to come down to the basement so he could show me his hobby. I politely accepted out of respect, but I had no idea how that one moment would change my life.” Paitson said.

The stairs were narrow leading down to the small basement. There were books and boxes everywhere — jars of chemicals, containers of film and photographic paper. Photographic negative strips were hanging from the ceiling and there was a slightly noticeable chemical odor. There were pictures everywhere, all sizes all shapes and all black and white. On a homemade workbench was his prized possession — the enlarger. Paitson asked what the enlarger was and how it worked. He spent the next two hours learning how to print pictures as his eyes were opened to the world of photography.

He eventually got his own camera and an enlarger. He set up his own darkroom in his parent’s basement. Paitson went on to become the head photographer for the yearbook at Terre Haute South Vigo High School. During Paitson’s junior year he attended Operation Catapult Rose-Hulman where students worked with lasers and created some of the first holograms.

After completing a mechanical engineering degree at Rose-Hulman, Paitson decided to pursue a career with his father at Paitson Bros. “My darkroom was long gone as my focus had changed to career and family,” Paitson said.

Thirty-five years later, Paitson again turned to his love of photography. His mother and father died within six months of each other, both at the age of 73. At the age of 52, Paitson suddenly wondered, “If I only had 20 years to live, what would I do with those 20 years? When you’re young you don’t think about those things, but when you’re in your 50s you suddenly realize you have less years to live than you have already lived. You start to wonder, ‘what am I going to do with the rest of my life? What would I do if I could do anything I wanted to do?’ ”

As Paitson was going through his parents belongings he began to realize the things valued most were the notes that they had written down, instructions on how to do things. He noticed there wasn’t much information that had been passed down from generation to generation. For example, there was one scrap of paper that Paitson’s grandfather had written to his father when he was 10 years old. It had eight things written on it: eight things to live your life by.

“Now those eight things were important,” said Paitson. “They were important enough for my grandfather to write them down, but I wanted more!

When I became a Christian I realized that the Bible was God’s letter to his children telling them how to live their life. Then it hit me! That’s what I wanted to do. To tell my children and grandchildren the things I’ve learned throughout my life to help them live their lives by. To write it down in a form that can be passed down from generation to generation. Finally, the vision of what I wanted to do came together. It is to use my love of photography and the pictures I create to illustrate lessons I’ve learned and to show my children and grandchildren that God is present all around them and that He will instruct them how to live their life through His Word in the Bible.”

As Paitson’s son, Adam, enters the family business, Paitson will be able to spend more of his “spare” time pursuing photography and writing.

He has been fortunate enough to have been instructed by some of the best professionals in the business: Peter Mortimer; former photographic editor for Arizona Highways Magazine, Steve Burger; print master at Prodigital Imaging, and Mark Kettenhofen; Nikon Professional Services instructor.

Paitson has been published in the “L.A.Times” and most recently won first place at the “River City Art-Spring Art Exhibition.” His current collection, “First Fruits,” was part of a five artist spring show earlier this year at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology. Paitson will exhibit a solo show at the Clabber Girl Museum at Ninth and Wabash from Sept. 1 through Dec 1.

For more information about Paitson visit


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