#WHYoming: Hank Ketelsen

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Welcome to SweetwaterNOW’s series, #WHYoming.

We are highlighting people from around our communities and asking them a few questions. We want to learn a little about them and see why they chose this great state to raise their families, start their businesses, or simply to ask — Why Wyoming?

This week we sat down with Hank Ketelsen, who has chosen to move to Wyoming to teach photography at Western Wyoming Community College. He will be teaching two traditional black and white photo classes and an intro to digital class this fall.

Hank is from South Lake Tahoe, California. He has been a photographer for 17 years. He loves to photograph issues dealing with water usage and how humans interact with water in their communities.

Hank’s website is hankketelsen.com, and the main focus of his work is in the Water Study section. Photos below are from a few series of work. Above is a photo of Hank with his wife, Daisy, and his dog, Chato.


Hank, how did you end up choosing to come to Wyoming?

I graduated from the MFA program at SCAD (Savannah College of Art and Design in Savannah, Ga) about a year ago. My wife and I are originally from California and have been looking to move back out West. A chance encounter at a photo conference put me in contact with Florence McEwin at WWCC, and I was hired as the new adjunct professor in photography.
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What is something unique about you?

It may not make me the most unique photographer, but I’ve studied many different types of photographic processes. Ranging from black and white darkroom to digital and also traditional processes like cyanotypes and platinum printing. I hope to be able to bring some of the more traditional processes to some classes at WWCC.
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If you could give one brief piece of advice, what would it be?

I guess if I were to give any advice it would be photographic in nature. I always say make sure what you are photographing shows you care about it, otherwise viewers of your photographs won’t. Make me care about your subject, tell me a story, don’t just show me where you’ve been but also why you went there.
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What are you looking forward to seeing and doing in Sweetwater County?

I have a feeling I’m going to be most happy out exploring the large open spaces of Wyoming most of all.
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Would you rather walk, ride a bike, take a horse or drive a car?

Weather permitting, bike.
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Do you have a favorite photo, taken by yourself or another artist?

I hate to say it but I don’t have a favorite photo, I like far too many of them to narrow it down. Work by photographers Edward Burtynsky and Susan Derges has been very influential in my own practice.
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What would you sing at karaoke night?

I would sing very poorly.
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How would your friends describe you?

Relaxed and laid back, easy going.
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What is your proudest accomplishment?

Other than my family, completing grad school has been my proudest moment.
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Who would you want to play you in a movie about your life?

Jeff Bridges. He’s older than me but mainly because he has a good beard.
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Why are you looking forward to living in Wyoming?

Since moving to Georgia for grad school there has been something missing from my life, and I think the landscape and environment of Wyoming is going to fill in that space nicely. I can’t wait to see what Wyoming brings to me and my family’s life.


If you’d like us to interview yourself or someone you know for #WHYoming, please send us suggestions to katie@sweetwaternow.com