Photography by Dave Van de Mark
Photography from Northern California and Western UStagline extension

Dave Van de Mark - A Brief Photographic History

Dave Van de Mark photo

I came to Humboldt County (northwestern California) in 1963 to be a summer worker in a sawmill - then split back to Southern Cal for college life at USC. On my maiden drive north, I quickly discovered the Trinity Alps country and thousands of acres of beautiful redwood forests. Sorry USC, there was just too much beauty here to leave, so I didn't!

My first few years were split between the wilderness of Trinity County (east of the coast) and getting my feet wet around Humboldt County, my home now for 58 years. Soon, I bought my first "real" camera, a Nikon F, a significant step up from the $ 5 Brownie Hawkeye I arrived with.

Within a year, I was intensely involved in the campaign for a Redwood National Park, and I put that camera to good use. I acquired more gear for the effort too. Upon graduating from HSU in 1968, I became an environmental consultant and darkroom technician, printing custom black & white and color for folks locally for over 20 years. After establishment of Redwood National Park in 1968 and expansion in 1978, I donated approximately 5,000 images to the park, documenting events in the redwood park region between 1964 and 1978 (The Dave Van de Mark Photograph Collection, REDW 17722, is available to qualified researchers). Furthermore, I also helped create and guide several ad hoc organizations whose efforts led to the creation and expansion of several wilderness areas inland from the redwood coast. All together about 20 years of my life.

In 2002, I acquired my first digital camera and never looked back. With digital to the rescue - and with tons of chemicals and fumes of the traditional darkroom a fleeting memory - I converted nicely to a "double" life as computer "darkroom" technician & computer service technician. It's not any easier to create and print one's work on a computer, but it sure is safer! The Park Service had me scan about a third of the collection I donated, so some of that history should someday be available for the public to see. While I still haven't had the opportunity to work on any of my wilderness film collection, I have been able to develop my post 2002 digital collection; a sampling of those images is displayed on my web site to enjoy and purchase.

However much I traveled throughout the western US, my roots and deepest affections have always involved the redwoods. In the last few years, I have returned to concentrate my photographic efforts on Redwood National and State Parks.

Redwood National Park celebrated it's 50th anniversary in 1968. It dawned on me that I was a living photographer who had worked hard to help establish the park and was still around to witness profound changes in the park environment. I proposed to the Park Service that I revisit some places (where possible) that I photographed during the "battle" days a half century earlier, and document those changes. They liked the idea.

Unfortunately, Covid-19 came along and prohibited any concept from taking fruit. Two years later, I have received a green light, so I hope to devote as much time as I can over the next two years being out there amongst those beautiful trees and unparalleled forests in a continuation of my "life's work". I will then be over 80 and surely will be slowing down some! I'm attempting to gather some crowd sourced support for this effort.

My final wish would then be to publish my story in some form, an endeavor that also requires financial resources. I'm hoping for the best.

Dave Van de Mark --- September 1, 2021