Portrait of a Vanishing Landscape, by Jonathan Turner

“A Connecticut-based photographer will present the culmination of 13 years of visits to Iowa in his first book, ‘Iowa: Echoes of a Vanishing Landscape,’ at 1:30 p.m. Saturday, at the Davenport Public Library’s Eastern Avenue Branch.

David Ottenstein, 57, traveled tens of thousands of miles and produced roughly 50,000 photographs, choosing 89 black-and-white portraits of the Hawkeye state…

Based in New Haven, Conn., since he graduated from Yale in 1982, he’s photographed many industrial buildings in the Northeast. About 2002, he read articles in The New York Times on the changing agricultural economy of the Midwest. ‘The way farming was happening was that it was leaving all these unused farm buildings.’

At his first visit to Iowa in 2004, ‘I fell in love with the place,’ Mr. Ottenstein said. ‘I find the landscape of Iowa to be just beautiful. It’s subtler than the mountains of the American West, but I find it to be absolutely beautiful.’

‘I also found the people there were really wonderful, even though it took them a while to understand what it was I was doing there,’ he said. ‘My pursuit was of the remains of an era everyone there knew and understood. People in Iowa really liked, respected and appreciated somebody else from far away who kept coming back to photograph it.’

Over 13 years, the photographer, who specializes in black and white, made more than 20 trips, averaging five to eight weeks at a time.

‘Whether it’s old structures in Iowa or the industrialized part of the Northeast, I had heard about the rate these things are vanishing from the landscape,’ Mr. Ottenstein said. ‘There’s an urgency to document what’s left, that this is really going to be gone in so many ways, it should be recorded.’
-Excerpt and (top) image courtesy of Newspapers.com, the Rock Island Argus (Rock Island, Illinois), “Portrait of a Vanishing Landscape – Photographers work documents a changing Iowa,” by Jonathan Turner, Sunday, October 15, 2017. Image caption: “A farm field in Tama County is featured in David Ottenstein’s new photo collection, ‘Iowa: Echoes of a Vanishing Landscape.'”

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