Golden Art City: Todd Paris

By  | 

FAIRBANKS, Alaska - Todd Paris; Photographer >> "I've just been so fortunate to be able to make a living with the camera. It's just been one highlight after another and it just hasn't stopped."

Born in Texas and raised in Topeka, Kansas, Todd Paris moved to Alaska after two years of college at Kansas University. He worked eight summers on a fishing boat before realizing he wanted a different career. In 1983 he graduated from the University of Alaska, Fairbanks in journalism and worked as a reporter for channel 2, then called KTUU. After working in the news industry, Paris worked as a vocational education instructor for the Yukon-Koyukuk School District. When that program ended Paris decided to go into business for himself.

Todd Paris >> "So I started this little desktop publishing company, Paris Publications, rented a little office on Van Horn road, was fortunate to buy a piece of equipment called a linotronic imagesetter, in those days I had the only one in town, it was kind of a vital link between desktop publishing and commercial printing."

Starting Paris Publications lead to a career as the head photographer for UAF. For Paris, he was in the right place at the right time.

Todd Paris >> "This was in the early 2000s and there was a need... It kind of coincided with the birth of the internet and all of the university departments wanted photographs of their departments and other things to put on line, and it was also the birth of digital photography."

For 16 years he worked at the university photographing everything from sports to black-tie gala events.

Todd Paris >> "One of the beautiful things about working as a university photographer is that you can't specialize, you have to be a generalist. One day you're shooting sports, one day you're shooting lab shots, one day you're shooting headshots, one day you're shooting scenics of the campus and a rainbow and 40 below, so you have to be ready for everything."

The self-taught photographer continued free-lance photography while working at the university, capturing stills for theater productions, weddings, and individuals. One of Paris' most memorable shots involved acrobats, mermaid tails, and Harding Lake.

Todd Paris >> "I've met some phenomenal individuals, one is a lady named Teal Rogers in town who is an aerial artist, and we've collaborated on a number of shoots over the years. We went to Harding Lake and put up her tripod in the water and just got some stunning shots of her and a couple of her buddies."

Paris retired from the university in 2016, but he plans to travel with his family and will be seen carrying his gear and peering through the lens for the Fairbanks Summer Arts Festival, among other community events. This is Amanda Brennan.