Clark Mishler Portrait Show Features 200 Alaskans

Portrait Alaska: Clark James Mishler features more than 200 portraits of Alaskans taken during the past 20 years. The project demonstrates the independence and character of Alaskans, while also emphasizing the ties that connect residents across the largest state. “Portrait Alaska” is on view April 20 through Sept. 28 at the Anchorage Museum.

A commercial photographer specializing in location portraiture, Mishler’s work is represented in the Anchorage Museum collection and has appeared in hundreds of books and periodicals including National Geographic and Time. In 2007 he published the well-received book Anchorage, Life at the Edge of the Frontier.

Young Yup'ik girl, Shaylene Spein, in traditional kuspuk, Kwethluk, Alaska.
Young Yup’ik girl, Shaylene Spein, in traditional kuspuk, Kwethluk, Alaska.

“Many Alaska photographers are focused on the landscape and wildlife. They want to get away from the city stuff, away from people,” Mishler said. “I’m just the opposite. I’m drawn to people because I find them to be the most interesting animal.”

Chief Curator Julie Decker said Mishler has established himself as one of Alaska’s primary portrait photographers. He is four years into his Portrait of the Day series, in which he photographs people he randomly encounters and then posts the results online.

The images demonstrate Mishler’s eye for character and putting people in context, whether it’s a woman hanging salmon to dry at a fish camp, 4-H kids holding chickens at the state fair, or a skateboarder in neon pink Converse sneakers.

Mishler hopes Alaskan visitors see some of themselves in these pictures.