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Photographer Celebrates Over 30 Years of Stories

First Pres Gallery-2

Photo credit: John Gevers

First Pres Gallery-2
Written by: Colby ShoupMay 04, 2017

In 1986, John Gevers was a junior journalism student at Indiana University. He had spent three years of college looking for stories to tell. When he went to New Zealand that year, stories started to come to him.

“The landscapes of New Zealand were a photographer’s dream,” Gevers said. “People there didn’t gossip or backstab; they were happy for each other. It was so different. It was like breathing air for the first time.”

Gevers was sent to New Zealand as a Goodwill Ambassador for Rotary International, a humanitarian organization. He spent a year there, traveling across the country, talking to locals and volunteering on small farms.

It was there he realized that no matter how different an area was, the people who lived there tended to be the same. After 31 years, Gevers said he is still learning this lesson with every photo he takes.

He hopes to pass this lesson on to the public with “focus,” his first solo photographic exhibition. Gevers’ photos will be on display until May 30 at First Presbyterian Gallery, 300 W. Wayne St., and June 9-July 9 at Garrett Museum of Art, 100 S. Randolph St. An opening reception for the exhibit will be held 6 p.m.-8 p.m. June 9 at Garrett Museum of Art.

After graduating college, Gevers worked in a variety of corporate and nonprofit organizations. He said he grew tired of working in a cubicle. He missed telling stories. In 2002, he quit his job and started his own photography and video company.

“I wanted to make pictures full-time because I really see a magic in capturing one small moment in time,” Gevers said. “Pictures have the ability to make someone look at the world in still images rather than a stream of moving images, which makes it easier for them to see beauty in things. So, I think that’s what I wanted to do as a photographer: To get people to smell, or rather, see, the roses.”

Gevers freelanced for clients around the world. He documented the lives of 20 AIDS survivors for one project. He followed the plights of refugees for another.

Gevers started to dabble in street photography, taking photos of strangers in the streets of New York and Paris. He continued to photograph the farms of New Zealand and the farms of Indiana.

It wasn’t until 2015 that Gevers discovered what was missing from his career. He had just attended the funeral of an old friend.

“I started thinking of my own mortality and thought about how I had so many photos I had not published,” Gevers said. “I knew then that I wanted to have my first solo exhibition.”

In 2016, Gevers received a grant for a retrospective exhibit on his three decades as a photographer. This exhibit became “focus.” It includes photos from throughout his career, including photos from that fateful year in New Zealand.

Admission to “focus” is free and open to the public.