PUBLISHED: 1:32 PM on Wednesday, December 7, 2005
Love for photography, Alaska brings about a book

Courtesy photo
  Bob Adkins focuses on photography since retiring from teaching in 1996.
For someone who once barely knew how to load film in a camera, Bob Adkins has come a long way.

Adkins, who lives in Haines, has recently published a photography book featuring the Golden Circle, which encompasses the areas of Whitehorse, Haines and Skagway.

Building his photography skills has been part of Adkins' journey to Alaska.

After completing graduate school at Western Michigan University in 1964, Adkins said he decided to live in Alaska for a couple of years to hunt and fish.

"I had read about Alaska since I was about 10 years old and this seemed like the perfect time," Adkins said.

After he was hired to teach in Sitka, Adkins drove the Alaska Highway and went through Fairbanks, down to the Denali Highway, on down to Anchorage and Kenai and then back to Haines before catching the ferry to Sitka.

"By the time I had traveled the Denali Highway, I was pretty well hooked," Adkins said. "I loved Alaska the first time I laid eyes on it."

Adkins met Aleta Tice while they were both teachers at Sitka High School and after dating for three years, they married in 1967.

"I was pretty shy, but when she asked me for a ride home after our first PTA meeting, I agreed," Adkins said.

The couple had traveled to Haines on their way to Sitka and after living in Anchorage, decided they wanted to live in a smaller town.

"So we spontaneously picked up and moved to Haines," Adkins said.

Adkins arranged to go to Botswana on an African safari in 1993 and went with friend and co-worker Woody Bausch, an accomplished photographer who wanted to photograph wildlife.

"I had an old Pentax 35 mm camera that I took occasional snapshots with, so Woody cajoled me into getting a telephoto lens for it. He spent the majority of the trip teaching me the rudiments of photography, including supplying me with several pieces of equipment," Adkins said.

"By the time we were through, I'd had a very successful hunting safari and also had been bitten by the photography bug."

Returning from the safari, Adkins read books on photography and began submitting photos and articles for publication.

He said he likes photography because it allows him to be close to wildlife.

"It's really special to be able to approach sheep or caribou, or any animal really, and spend time with them and learn their habits and life patterns," Adkins said. "In the same way, it's great to find a naturally beautiful scene in great light and be able to capture it on film."

Adkins said that after looking in several bookstores throughout Southeast Alaska, he could not find any published material on the Golden Circle, an area that Alaska and the Yukon are jointly marketing as a tourism destination.

"I thought I would publish a photo book that would appeal to travelers as a souvenir and might also appeal to locals who might want to show relatives outside what a beautiful area we live in," Adkins said.

While Adkins said the reaction to the book has been favorable, he was nervous about putting his work out to the public.

"Well, an artist or craftsman has an emotional investment in whatever he or she produces, and I think there's always some trepidation when you submit your product to public scrutiny," Adkins said.

"So far the reaction to my book has been very favorable, and I'm more than pleased and very relieved."

"The Golden Circle" is available in bookstores in Juneau and Haines and may be found online at