Dave Shumway became a shutterbug the first time he picked up a camera.
He was 4 years old when his grandfather handed him a Minolta SRT 101, a heavy, steel-bodied, single-lens reflex with manual exposure.
They spent time roaming the back yard, taking pictures of squirrels, and Shumway still remembers the fascination when he saw the images magically appear in the developing trays.
“I kept on doing it, moved up through film, and took classes in high school,” he said.
Shumway continued to pursue his passion for photography through his college years. After attending several other schools, he completed his degree in business and economics at Rocky Mountain College.
Right after graduation Shumway landed a job at Rocky, where he was in charge of revamping the college’s website and logo.
Nature photography is a passion, and Shumway has traveled thousands of miles to photograph scenery and wildlife. Over a five-year period, he visited Yellowstone National Park 101 times, capturing thousands of images. He also runs his own photography business.
“I’m in negotiations with two publishers, but the world of publishing books is not what it used to be,” Shumway said. “They have their own vision and a process.”
Teaching photography classes at Rocky is especially rewarding. “I don’t think I could teach middle school or high school students,” he said. “College kids are coming in with a desire to learn and can understand things at a higher level than other kids.”
Describe how you got where you are in your work today: Dedication, long hours, confidence in myself and my work, and a refusal to be looked down on for my age have all contributed, along with being incredibly blessed, to place me where I am today.
What’s the toughest challenge that you have faced in your business?
I walked into a brand new position at RMC (fresh out of college), with a website that had been made for free by the college’s computer science program. Along with a handful of others, I completely revamped the website and worked with an ad agency to simultaneously redo the college’s logo and entire brand (publications). Talk about learning on the job and under pressure.
What did you learn from that challenge?
I learned that I am very capable and if I trust myself and my expertise I can help make almost anything happen. I also learned the real power of good photography.
If you could make one positive change in Billings, what would it be? For the last five or six years it has been a goal of mine to improve the level of photography, and the appreciation of photography, in Billings. I have worked with both camera clubs, some of the schools, and numerous organizations to that end.
Aside from profit and loss, how do you measure success in your job? What I do at RMC has several ways to see/measure my success.
First, I measure my success by the success of my students, especially those who seek to earn a living with their photography upon graduation. For non-major photography students I judge my success both by the work that they produce and by their semester’s end review of the class and myself.
The other part of my job at RMC reaches far beyond anything easily measurable. The overall quality of publications from the college has improved significantly in my time here, and though many people have had a hand in that, the quality of the photography and my role on the Brand Management Team has had a significant impact in our success. If you were to use enrollment numbers to measure what I do, publications and the website, then those numbers would shine very favorably on the work that I have done.
For my side job (Shumway Photography) sales, to magazines and ad agencies, are how I measure success.
Which living person do you most admire?
Based solely on his work, Art Wolfe is the living photographer that I most admire, but knowing him personally I can’t say that I admire him as a person. The list of extraordinary people who have influenced me is a long one, but I can’t say there is a single living person who I admire on all levels.
What do you consider your greatest achievement?
I hope my greatest achievements are still ahead of me, but I am very proud to be earning my living as a photographer in a place that I love. Coming from the suburbs of Chicago, this is a long way from the path that most expected me to take. I have won art shows, had my images published in countless manners nationally and internationally, but all of that is just part of making a career as a professional photographer.
I’m happiest when I’m…deep in remote places photographing (experiencing) this amazing world that we all live in.