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Retired Architect Publishes Ozarks Photography Book

It’s hard to remember sometimes, amidst busy schedules to stop and look at all the beauty found within the Ozarks. But a local retired architect spent 20 years taking pictures of what he thought were the prettiest sights in the Ozarks and now, he’s put all the pictures into one published book to share with others. KSMU’s Kristian Kriner reports.

Sixty-one year old Carl James says he’s been taking pictures for about 30 years now, ever since he and his wife bought a 35 millimeter camera when they got married.

James grew up in the Ozarks near Gainesville— that’s in a rural, hilly region in south-central Missouri.

He says he’s never had any formal photography training.

“I used to do a lot of backpacking and hiking and basically, I took the camera along to document all of that. And it got to the point where I was going on trips to photograph,” James said.James says photography is his religion and a way for him to appreciate nature.“Photography is very therapeutic. I’m not really a very religious person, so I find that very therapeutic and relaxing. Actually, that’s my church as far as I’m concerned,” James said.Recently, the retired architect decided to put all the pictures he had taken over the years into one book he called “Aux Arcs” – that’s spelled A-U-X, A-R-C-S.

James says the title of the book, “Aux Arcs,” which means a place of hills or bows, comes from the settlers that bought the land back in 1803.

“Originally, the name came from the French and the area was a part of the Louisiana Purchase. Gradually, it got like other things as far as names usually do, they tied aux and arcs together and it became Ozarks,” James said.

He says he called a local publisher to help him put the book together.

James says he organized the pictures and poems in the book himself using Adobe Photoshop.

He says he’s seen a change in the Ozarks lately due to pollution and urban developments.

“One of the reasons I did this book is I think most people are very insensitive to the outdoors. I think it’s because they’re isolated from it, because they don’t spend enough time in it. Everybody is so busy. Most people spend 90 percent of their time indoors,” James said.

He says all the photographs in the book are in black and white, because it’s easier to see shape, lighting and composition in colorless pictures.

Next to some of the pictures in the book are poems by famous poets and also poems written by James himself.

James says poetry is another outlet for him.

He read aloud one of his poems called “Reaching for the Light,” which is about the trees in the Ozarks.

For KSMU News, I’m Kristian Kriner.

Author of Front cover of James' book. Picture and poem by Carl James.