Carlson views landscapes with an artist’s loving eye
By Annette Tait
The night images of familiar – and not so familiar – Oliver County landscapes resonate with those who view them. If not the exact scene, the association may be with one of the similar vistas dotted throughout the county that represent a piece of a person’s life or history.
The connection is strong for Mitch Carlson. Family connections regularly draw him back to Center, where the “blue hour” – the nighttime photographer’s equivalent of the brilliant “magic hour” in daylight – pulls him out into the prairie.
Carlson was born in Minnesota, where his dad worked construction. The family moved to Center when his father took a job at Baukol-Noonan, Inc., now known as BNI Coal. A typical young boy, his time was spent in school, with his friends, and playing baseball and softball at the park.
After graduation, he went on to study welding and machining at North Dakota State College of Science, Wahpeton.
His high school sweetheart, Sherry Mosbrucker, had headed to North Dakota State University, where she studied pharmacy. As Sherry was in a six-year program of study, Mitch joined her in Fargo after earning his degree. Somewhere in the process the two married, with Mitch working in Fargo while Sherry completed her studies.
“The economy was bad [in Fargo], so we looked all over, searching for jobs for her,” Mitch said. “Arizona, out West, Colorado, Vancouver, Washington – we ended up in Portland (Ore.).”
Mitch had connections with an asphalt production business he worked for in Fargo, and landed a job at the Portland, Ore., plant as an operator. In the 21 years since he started, he’s risen through the ranks to run the facility.
The connection between the two may not seem readily apparent, but his passion for photography is an offshoot of his regular job. His work offers a good career, but also one with little variation.
“It keeps you sane,” Mitch says of his photography. “I needed something to offset the work environment.”
Mitch’s initial photography experience came during high school, when he developed photos for the annual for Tim Erhardt and Walter Wolf.
“I never really had the money for a camera,” Mitch said, “but I was good at processing.”