LeRoy Zimmerman Photographer

"I was born in Oshkosh, Wisconsin in 1940, and have been living in Ester, Alaska, since 1974. The village of Ester is located just six miles west of Fairbanks. I began my love affair with cameras as a child. That fascination with images has only grown throughout my life on this earth. It took many years of shooting before I began to realize why I was not satisfied with my work. I discovered that it was not the photography that I was dissatisfied with, but the format. I realized the limits imposed by a single frame of 35mm film were not allowing me to capture what I was seeing with my eyes. I found the vision of the scene before me was impossible to fit within a single frame of film. I needed more, much more, in order to get the shot I was after. I realized it was the panoramic format I was needing, so I began filming panoramas in 1967. I do not mean that I am a photographer who sometimes takes panoramas, I mean that panoramas are the only kind of photography I shoot, and have been shooting ever since 1967.

"It began by having the idea of using 3 projectors to project panoramic images on a wide screen, and then 'performing' those images to music, as a performance art. Since there were no 'panorama' stores that sold panoramic images, I realized that if I wanted to have panos, I would have to go out and get my own. So out of necessity I became a panoramic photographer. My photos, performed on screen to symphonies, created wide screen multi-image productions that I called PhotoSymphonies. Symphonies of photography. Each on screen pano is comprised of 3 horizontal 35mm slides projected edge to edge on a 1:4 screen. Currently I have two programs running in Alaska each summer. My main summer theater, The Aurorium®, is here in Ester, AK, where twice each evening I show the only panoramic aurora show that has ever created, and my second presentation is featured at the Mt. McKinley Princess Wilderness lodge, that show being about Denali National Park.

"As wonderful as my PhotoSymphonies are, there was one sacrifice that I had to make in order to pursue my dream of being a panoramic photographer. I was never able to see my images in print, since each complete scene was in reality on 3 separate pieces of film. Then something absolutely wonderful happened in 1998, 31 years after I began my filming. The digital age had arrived, and I discovered through Photoshop, scanners, and printers, that now my three separate frames could easily and seamlessly be joined with one another, and for the first time in my life I was able to see the original scene in its entirety without projectors. I was stunned. I could now hold a print in my hands! I now was able to create a PhotoRama®.

"You most likely have no idea of the incredible feeling that comes to a photographer after waiting 31 years to see his first print. A new world had opened up. It was a new beginning for my work, something I never imagined would have ever happened in my lifetime. For the first time ever I now had a reason to film scenes that did not need to be part of an onscreen production. I could now film just for the beauty of filming. So ever since 1998 I have been trying to get to as many destinations as I can afford to visit, places that seem to be begging to be filmed in my panoramic format. Some places seem to shout "Panorama" the moment you arrive, and others, like the slot canyons in Arizona are an incredible challenge to capture in long horizontal shots, when verticals are screaming all around you. I know many of the places I want to visit been virtually been filmed to death, and the world does not need anymore pictures of that place, but I know they have never been filmed by me in my 1:4 panoramic format. The thrill I get by being in those places can be no less that what Ansel Adams must have felt being in Yosemite. It is all so very new to my eyes, and I know the photos I can get there will be unlike any that have ever been filmed there before. The world now seems to be calling, so I know my remaining years on this earth will be spent seeing and filming as much as I can possible squeeze in. As far as I know, I am the only photographer on earth who has ever filmed the auroras in panorama, and I have been filming pano northern lights since 1984. I have built custom filming systems, and modified many pieces of film gear in order to capture what my heart seems to be seeing. I have discovered the 1:4 panoramic format that I have pioneered seems to be the format that fits our human vision most comfortably.

"I hope your visit to this website is as satisfying for you as the filming of each image was for me. There are so many images to see here that it is best not to try to view them all in a single visit, so I hope you will bookmark this site and return again. There are times when we just need to get away from our everyday lives for a while, times when we need to be with our own private thoughts. When you need some of those times, I hope you will return here. Dim your lights at home and put on some of your favorite music, and spend time in the beauty of nature through these images. The power of beauty can touch us in ways we do not fully understand, but we know well how we suffer in its absence.

"I do thank you for your visit to my website. This site has been designed not only to respect my work, but to respect the intelligence of you, the visitor, as well. I hope you like what you have seen here, and it would be an honor to have one of my PhotoRamas® hanging in your home or office. Images that can be looked at over and over again. A place to rest your eyes. A place to rest your spirit.

'Natural beauty, seen in a natural way'.

"I cannot imagine filming in any other way."

LeRoy Zimmerman

PhotoSymphony Productions