Paul Hughes, photographer, has ridden bamboo rafts in the jungles of Southeast Asia, climbed “the mountain that burns” in Nicaragua and searched for the Loch Ness Monster.
By Jordan Wolfe
Now, the Oklahoma-native is a half-time Manzanita resident, photographing the outdoors and donating his prints for the Manzanita Visitor Center to sell.
“He just wandered in, one day, and said ‘I want to donate these cards,'” said Dan Haag, coordinator for the Visitor Center. “It’s incredibly generous…they are incredible works of art.”
The donated cards, assembled by Hughes himself and featuring his photography of the North Coast, sell for $3 at the Visitor Center, with all proceeds contributing to the center.
“I gladly offered the cards,” Hughes said. “It’s a small way of giving back to a village I love.”
Hughes said his love of Manzanita began 20 years ago, when he and his wife visited. The pair purchased a home in town 10 years later.
“It’s hard to compare the Oregon coast,” he said of the area’s picturesque quality, “It changes with the light – you can just sit and observe.”
He said he spends many hours snapping photos, and added with a smile that he has a very understanding wife.
“Having grown up on a red dirt farm – as we call it back in Oklahoma – every morning, I drive by the beach to make sure it’s still there,” he said with a laugh, “I try to come up with a photo op to share.”
On the farm in Oklahoma, Hughes was introduced to photography when he found an old Brownie camera.
“But as a GI in Germany, that’s when I really got the bug.”
Hughes said it is the sharing of the Oregon coast’s beauty that he enjoys about his outdoor photography and the cards he donates. Originally, the cards were created just as gifts for friends and family that received positive reviews.
Hughes has been donating the cards for three years, after the idea was sparked following a conversation over golf with a city council member.
Nestled on the rack of cards featuring images of Manzanita beach, elk and Neahkahnie mountain is a photo featuring a scarlet sunset on the beach with a single rider on horseback galloping across the frame.
“My cousin, who was more like a brother, rode bulls and broncs in rodeos,” Hughes said with tears in his eyes as he looked at the photo on the card. “It wasn’t long after he passed that I saw this and it reminded me of him…It was a sign – saying he’s okay and riding off into the sunset.”
Hughes’ award-winning photos have been exhibited in England, Germany, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Hawai’i and the continental U.S. His work is currently on exhibit at Haystack Gallery in Cannon Beach.