There aren’t a lot of comparisons to be drawn between Janele Husband’s two most recent trips.
The first was a three-week sojourn through various parts of Alaska. The second was a weekend reunion with childhood friends in her native Nebraska, one nicknamed “The Chill,” and forbidden to spouses and children.
But, for the 53-year-old Husband, scenery is irrelevant. Everywhere, no matter the location, is a potentially palette-rich environment for her photographer’s eye.
“Usually,” said Husband, a retired Moffat County School District educator, “you won’t ever find me without my camera.”
The equipment has certainly changed for Husband over the years — she received her first Brownie camera at 10 years old and now uses a Nikon SLR she got as a retirement present — but the passion for life through the lens has never wavered.
“Ever since I got my first camera, I’ve always just loved taking pictures,” she said. “I love capturing moments in time and fleeting moments in nature — sunsets, rainbows, whatever it may be.”
Although photography has been a lifelong creative outlet for Husband, in a sense, it took a deep, personal loss for her art to mature.
Husband, originally from Lexington, Neb., began teaching in 1982 in the Moffat County School District.
Her 27 ½-year education career included stints as a reading teacher at East Elementary School, kindergarten, first- and third-grade teacher at Ridgeview Elementary School, and reading coordinator for all district elementary schools.
However, in 2006, at age 50, she left education behind. She attributes part of her retirement to a lesson learned through her mother’s passing.
Her mother, Phyllis Fagot, died at 57 from colon cancer. Janele, her mother’s middle daughter, was 32 at the time. She said she felt robbed of more time the two should have been able to spend together.
The loss left a mark.
“It made me realize,” said Husband, explaining her decision to retire, “that we never know what tomorrow is going to bring. … I wanted to pursue something more.”
With the freedom of retirement, Janele got back to hobbies like quilting, bicycling, knitting, reading and traveling.
And photography. Always photography.
“Since I retired,” she said, “it’s taken the top. I spend a lot of time with it.”
Whether it’s capturing a patriotic, Fourth of July image while on a river trip, a surprise rainbow over Craig, outdoor photos from places like Jones Hole Creek in Dinosaur National Monument, or more traditional, posed portraits of her five granddaughters, Husband said she’s more than ready with one of the four cameras in her collection.
And though some of those pictures earn praise — she’s been awarded for different photos entered into contest at the Moffat County Fair — or profit — she has photos on notecards for sale at Under the Aspen Tree in downtown Craig — it’s self-satisfaction that means more to her anything.
“Being able to capture art … has been very inspiring,” Husband said.
She’s also an astute observer and fan of others’ work.
Husband said Craig and Moffat County is home to numerous talented photographers — both amateur and professional.
“It’s just been fun to have them see my pictures and me comment on favorites of theirs,” she said. “I think our community offers an amazing palette for photographers. At the fair, I’m always amazed at the variety and quality of pictures.”
In Alaska, where she traveled with her husband of nine years, John Husband, the former field manager for the Bureau of Land Management’s Little Snake Field Office, she took hundreds of pictures.
She hadn’t had time to download them yet before packing up for “The Chill,” where her friends encouraged her to shoot away.
“They often depend on me to document our weekends,” Husband said, laughing.
Luckily, they have a friend who was more than willing to oblige.