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Photography book points at Ogden

Brian Nicholson, a photojournalist and Weber State University graduate, has recently released a book of portrait photography depicting Ogden’s wide demographic.

The book, called I Am Ogden, is a compilation of black-and-white portrait pictures of Ogden residents. A small sample of the photography can be seen in the Union Art Gallery on campus.

Nicholson randomly selected the subjects, with help from the people of Ogden.

“I would call someone in for a photo and they’d say, ‘You should take a picture of so-and-so,’ so I’d call ‘so-and-so’ up and take their picture too,” he said.

People viewing the book might notice the huge span of age, fitness, height and economical status portrayed in Nicholson’s book.

“I wanted to represent a really wide cross-section of Ogden,” Nicholson said. “I wanted to represent every demographic I could think of. You’ll find political leaders, homeless people, rich, poor, old and young people featured in this book.”

Nicholson graduated in 1995 with a major in technical sales after taking photographs for The Signpost. After graduation, he worked as a photojournalist for seven years at The Standard-Examiner. Since 2007, he has been a photojournalist for The Deseret News. 

“I’ve been doing photography for about 15 years,” Nicholson said. “I definitely have a love for being creative and trying to tell a story through pictures.”

Nicholson’s idea for I Am Ogden is loosely based off a similar project by Richard Avedon, another photographer.

“The book is loosely inspired by Richard Avedon’s American West. The difference is he used far fewer subjects,” Nicholson said.

Before he started the project, Nicholson was planning on using a smaller sampling of Ogden.

“Originally, I only wanted characters and interesting people,” he said. “After, I decided to represent every demographic. If you live in Ogden, it’s hard to not find someone you know in the book.”

Nicholson didn’t choose Ogden as the city to highlight for no reason. He explained that Ogden has such a variety of people, making it the perfect location for a book of this size.

“Ogden has diversity and character,” he said. “It’s small enough that people know each other, but not too small.”

Sandy Havas is one of more than 400 subjects featured in Nicholson’s book. Havas was the director of the Ogden Arts Center for 35 years. She has known Nicholson for the past few years.

“I just think I Am Ogden is a wonderful keepsake book. People say to me, ‘Oh, I’ve seen you in that Ogden book!’” she said. “It was nice to be included.”

Brandon Keller is a general arts major at WSU. He said he saw the book a few months ago and it really made him think.

“As I look at these images, most of the people have elements of their personality showing in their photos,” Keller said. “I wonder what we could learn from everyone if we took the time to get to know them. These photos make me realize that all the anonymous people I see on the street have more to their lives, but we don’t usually see it.”

The book is for sale at various shops around Ogden.

“You’ll find it at Grounds for Coffee, the Union Station Gift Shop, The Queen Bee, Sonora Grill and other little shops around Ogden,” Nicholson said.

I Am Ogden has a Facebook page where different subjects from the book are named and highlighted for Facebook fans to see.

According to Nicholson, sales of the book have made enough to pay for the making of it, but it hasn’t brought in any extra money. Even so, Nicholson said he considers it a success.

“The community has really embraced this book. People say to me, ‘This makes me proud to live in Ogden,’” he said. “It’s a reflection of the city’s personality.”

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