(Article published in the Skokie Review, Thursday,
December 26, 2013, By MIKE ISAACS firstname.lastname@example.org )
Skokie photographer rings in 2014 with a
Stephen F. Pavkovic's photograph of Arches National Park in Utah
graces the cover of an AARP Foundation calendar for 2014. | Photo courtesy of Pavkovic
SKOKIE — It might take someone nearly
22 hours to drive from Skokie to Moab, Utah, and they would have to pass
through states like Iowa, Nebraska and Colorado first before they arrived. So
what could such a far-away place with drastically different topography and
climate possibly have in common with the more urban Skokie? The answer is octogenarian photographer
Stephen F. Pavkovic.
picture speaks a thousand words, and what a picture Pavkovic has rendered for
the cover of the 2014 AARP Foundation calendar.
a long-time Skokie resident, had abandoned photography for decades to raise a
family and make a living, but he returned to it not long before he turned 80.
He said digital photography made it possible — and easier — to become a
photographer once again.
couple years ago, Pavkovic displayed a collection of 50 of his beautiful
photographs — more than two-thirds of them taken in
Skokie — at the Emily Oaks Nature Center, the first public showing of his
work. It certainly turned out not to be
his last. His lovely photograph, capturing the solemn serenity of Arches
National Park in Utah, will be seen by countless numbers of people. He shot the photo April 28, 2011 while on a
my lodging in darkness and set up shop in a relatively level area,” Pavkovic
said. “Fortune smiled upon me, and I happened upon some small shallow pools
created by condensation of moisture in the cool morning air.” The pool reflected in the photographer’s
image is about 2 feet across and 1 to 2 inches deep, but it took on the
appearance of a lake when Pavkovic placed his camera at the water’s edge. “The image was taken with my first DSLR, making larger prints possible,” he said.
former Loyola University chemistry professor for nearly four decades, Pavkovic
came to photography relatively early in his life. “It was in the genes,” he said. “My mother
was an avid amateur photographer. She had a little Brownie (camera). We had
hundreds if not thousands of pictures.”
Pavkovic had a trunk filled with those photographs, but they were
destroyed in a basement flood — a loss he has always felt.
by his mother, Pavkovic began using a 35 millimeter camera to take his own
photographs — scenery mostly rendered from family trips. At that time, the family was taking vacations
to splendorous settings like the Grand Canyon and other national parks. The 35
millimeter slides that Pavkovic created contained vibrant, gorgeous colors that
just inspired him onward. “The SLR wore out in the 70s,” Pavkovic recalled. ”My children were teenagers
then so I put this aside and didn’t replace the camera until digital cameras
came out.” With his children
grown, a job no longer staring at him every day and revolutionary technology at
his fingertips, it was the perfect opportunity for Pavkovic to return to his
daughter persuaded Pavkovic to enter the AARP photography contest. Ironically,
he was in Utah this spring (the 10th day of a two-week, solo photo safari of
the Southwest) when he received word that his photo had been selected for the
cover. “What a complete and unexpected
surprise,” he said. “I had totally forgotten about the contest, which I entered
largely because of my daughter Karen’s encouragement.”
thrilled he would be part of the calendar, Pavkovic didn’t know that his image
was the cover shot until later. But now he does. He knows that 2014 will begin
for many with a crystal clear rendering of a timeless image in Arches National
Park — a world far removed from his hometown of Skokie.