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Ross Hall

Ross Hall (1905-1990)




Ross Hall was born and raised on an isolated homestead in Deaf Smith County, Texas.  His family moved to Hotchkiss, Colorado when he was a teenager.  While attending Colorado State University, Ross contracted a life threatening illness which left him bedridden for two years.  His doctor told the young patient that "should you survive, you will need to take up a 'sedentary' profession such as photography". During convalescence Ross studied the "Holy Bible," the "Journals of Lewis and Clark," and the "Complete Works of William Shakespeare." These writings would become the guiding spiritual and artistic inspirations for his career.

 

Hall went on to receive a fine arts degree from the Illinois College of Photography n the 1920's.  The school, which graduated only a handful of artists per semester, was at the time, the only fully accredited photography college in the country.  Several years after graduation, Ross moved to Sandpoint, Idaho.

 

Sandpoint, in 1931, was a remote logging village of 4,000 situated on the north end of 50-mile-long Lake Pend d'Oreille between the Selkirk and Cabinet mountain ranges.  There, upon recommendation of the Eastman Kodak Company, he was hired by the widowed Nellie Himes to manage the Dick Himes Studio.  A year later, after convincing himself that he could make a living in Sandpoint even during the Great Depression, he returned to Colorado to persuade his sweetheart, Dorothy Hazel Bridges, to return to Idaho with him.  Several days later they arrived at the train station in Sandpoint to find hundreds of townspeople bearing gifts for the new bride.  Ross and Hazel had found their home.

 

It was on the ridge tops of North Idaho that Ross discovered mountain winter photography. Disregarding doctor's orders, his daring exploits eventually lead him on photographic expeditions throughout the Northwestern United States and Canada.  Ross first received national attention for "The Forest Christening" which was published by the New York times in 1933. Subsequently, his work went on to be featured in National Geographic and Life, as well as most of the other major periodicals of the day.

 

Ross' studies of winter snow formations established him as one of the first photographers to elevate mountain winter imagery to an art form.  During the 1940's Eastman Kodak recognized Ross Hall as one of the top ten scenic photographers in the country.

 

Concurrently, Ross and Hazel built a thriving business that defied its rural setting.  At its pinnacle, The Ross Hall Studio employed nearly one hundred people and accounted for over 600,000 large format negatives, some sizing up to ten square feet.  Ross was that rare individual who successfully combined commerce and artistic pursuits while earning a national reputation for spectacular wildlife, winter and scenic photography. More recently much attention is also being paid to his sensitive characterizations of people and their daily pursuits.

 

As a result of superb technique and an artist's documentary vision, Ross Hall photographs are treasured as some of the most accomplished and representative images of their period.  Through the efforts of the Hallans Gallery and prints by Dann Hall, the Ross Hall Collection, like a great time capsule, emerges to not only present an era in poignant reflection but to also reestablish Ross Hall as one of the Master Photographers of the Twentieth Century.

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