Scott Cordner was destined to become a fine-art photographer. A browse through his portfolio illustrates his passion for the medium and the outdoors. The pure, unaltered and uncomplicated scenes are captured in the finest light. The pure, unaltered and uncomplicated scenes are captured in the finest light. His exacting prints are made with the best materials that last lifetimes. Hand made hardwood frames from renewable and managed forests are enhanced and finished with environmentally friendly oils and a water-based polyurethane (made from whey, a byproduct of cheese). No detail is overlooked, and it is apparent.
Scott grew up in the rural Allegheny Mountains of northwest Pennsylvania in the town of Bradford. He spent most of his childhood outdoors, exploring the hills and forests, observing the flora and fauna, cementing his relationship with nature. But when indoors, Scott drew inspiration from his Grandfather, Jack McCutcheon.
Scott loved to draw just like his Grandfather, a self-taught painter and award-winning advertising manager for Zippo Lighters. Like many children, Scott’s artistic creativity was nurtured. In the 8th grade ‘Design an Ad’ contest, Scott took first place with a hand-drawn advertisement for a local Chrysler dealership.
His Grandfather also had a deep connection with the outdoors and wrote a weekly hunting and fishing column for the Bradford Era. He also respected Native American people and their culture, which were often the subject of his paintings.
During middle school Scott took some photography classes, where he learned to develop and print his own photographs. He excelled in math and science, and learned from his father how to take apart and fix things. It was a more traditional career path and one he pursued academically in high school and in college. While his passion for photography still consumed his free time, a degree in Electrical Engineering guaranteed him work and a job designing test equipment brought him to Southern California.
Frustrated with the confines of employment, Scott decided to put his engineering career on hold and set out to hike the Pacific Crest Trail in its entirety – from the Mexican border to Canada. He brought along his first SLR to document the trip, a Canon Rebel 35mm with a kit zoom lens. Six months, four pairs of shoes, thirty-five pounds, 50 rolls of Fuji Velvia later Scott knew he had rekindled his love for the outdoors and his passion for photography. Even now, more than 20 years later, Scott entertains audiences with that early slide show of that 2700-mile trek.
Hiking had put things in perspective for Scott and he took a pragmatic approach when he returned to the workforce. He earned his living mostly through technical work as an engineer while honing his craft as a photographer and printmaker. Those years were special for Scott because weekends were devoted to road trips that introduced him to the iconic landscapes of the American West.
It would still take another ten years before Scott could pursue photography full time but those years weren’t wasted. During those years and after, Scott continued to combine adventure travel with fine art and outdoor photography. He has trekked and mountaineered in Peru documenting the remarkable landscape and the Quechua culture. Scott climbed and stood on the summit of Denali, North America’s tallest peak, and has captured the magnificent hostility of the mountains.
He traveled to Russia’s Lake Baikal – the largest and deepest fresh water lake in the world – in 2002 as part of a team of four to kayak the remote northeast shoreline. While the Russian landscape was stunning, it was the Russian people who captivated him and set the stage for a return visit.
It was then that Scott developed his interest in using his travels and his images to document people and places that matter. Scott used his second trip to Russia’s Far East to promote ‘sustainable travel.’ He photographed the entire month-long expedition to Russia’s Kamchatka Peninsula, including the people and his team’s use of public transportation for self-powered, ski touring instead of the normal skiing style – heli-skiing. His images appeared in Backcountry magazine in connection with an article written about the remote region of Mount Bakening, a now extinct volcano located in the center of the Kamchatka Peninsula.
With the explosion of digital photography and printing, Scott drew from his technical background and started scanning his film and slides. Using digital cameras, he eliminated film and the harsh chemicals used to develop it from his practice. He started producing images with pigment inkjet printers. His printing style removes chemical processing from the equation and will last hundreds of years instead of fading like traditional color prints.
Desiring to create a better overall presentation of his photographs, six years ago Scott experimented with woodworking and now crafts his own frames. His process includes milling the wood by hand to create strikingly simple frames that naturally complement his photographs.
Scott is fast-becoming known for his large, panoramic prints, which capture the quiet magnificence and individuality of ordinary scenes. In fact, he shies away from more common and well-known iconic landscapes. “I am so proud to hang Scott’s work in our Gallery. His photos have such emotion, movement and vibrancy,” says Tamara Breunig, owner of United Wood Craftsmen Gallery. “You feel like they are a window to his world. His talent for capturing the moment is so real. It’s as if one could just walk into the photos and explore the spot where he took them. His work has such a sense of peace, and our clientele thinks so too.”
Collectors demand for his prints has grown because they feel a connection to the scene. Scott shows his work at art exhibits and fairs, in lifestyle retail stores and in fine art galleries. Scott has also sold collections of his finished prints to corporate offices. One of his corporate clients said this of his work, “Everyone is still raving about the prints, Scott. Thanks again for sharing your talent!”
Scott is focusing on conservation photography. He believes if someone notices an image of his, it becomes an opportunity to start a dialog about nature in general and the importance of preservation specifically. His ultimate goal is to create more stewardship of these important though lesser-known places throughout the world.