Laura Dean Bennett
Recent visitors to Pocahontas County Artisans Co-op’s 4th Avenue Gallery in the Marlinton Depot or The Shops at Leatherbark Ford in Cass will have taken note that there’s new photography on display there – the stunningly beautiful West Virginia landscape photography of Eric Brumbaugh.
The photographer is a West Virginia native and currently resides in Elkins.
Brumbaugh grew up in Parkersburg, graduated from Parkersburg Catholic High School in 2006, spent a semester at WVU, and ultimately graduated in 2009 with a Bachelor’s of Science degree in math from Muskingum University in New Concord, Ohio.
He never had the slightest idea of becoming a professional photographer.
“After I graduated, I just knew I didn’t want to teach and even though I was accepted to a few good graduate programs, made the mistake of not going to graduate school,” Brumbaugh said.
“After college I did a lot of odd jobs, mostly in a kitchen or with the food industry in some capacity and some retail – nothing fancy.
“I lived in Morgantown for a little while, moved back to Parkersburg, lived in Richmond, Virginia, for about six months – just generally bounced around.
“I’m big into music, so I gravitated to that,” he said.
“I played drums in a few different bands, went on tour one summer and would, honestly, probably be still doing that under the right circumstances.
“But playing in a band means you’re relying on the other members, and people move on or lose interest, so it’s sometimes hard to keep a band going.
“As it happened, I started out in photography in the early 2000s, thinking I’d learn how to take some photographs at motorsports events.
“I was using my dad’s film camera, a Minolta.
“I like sports cars, open wheel, amateur and vintage racing – they’re all favorites of mine,” Brumbaugh explained.
“Before COVID, I had decided I wanted to make it a goal to get some of my photography into a magazine.
“I went to a couple races and started really paying attention to settings and composition, just trying to take the best pictures I could.
“Then COVID closed down the events – it changed everything, so I shifted to landscape photography.
“I’m fairly new to landscape photography, only having done it for a few years now, but I’ve come a lot farther along than I thought I would by now.”
Apparently the love of nature and the love of photography are family traits in the Brumbaugh family.
“My parents and I have always gone on hikes together, and we like to take a lot of pictures,” he said. “My dad and I went out and started shooting nature and landscapes.
“He taught me the basics, and once I got my current and first decent camera, a Canon DSLR, in late 2019, I started trying to learn as much as possible through online articles and YouTube videos.
“I’m still trying to learn new techniques and ways to make my pictures better,” he added.
Brumbaugh liked photography so much that it’s now his main focus.
“Photography is more of a solitary thing, which suits me, to be honest, and although the weather can be a lot less reliable than band mates – and that’s really saying something – it’s still easier to manage most of the time,” Brumbaugh said with a laugh.
His work is for sale at Scarlet & Gray in Thomas, he was invited to hang several large canvas prints at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Buckhannon, and his photography has graced the pages of Wild Wonderful West Virginia magazine.
“So far, I’ve just appeared in the #wondergrams section and in the Table of Contents in Wild Wonderful West Virginia, but my goal is to get in their gallery section one day,” Brumbaugh said.
He also decided to try to get his work into some galleries.
He became a member of the Pocahontas County Artists Co-op this year and his photography is being featured in both of its galleries – Leatherbark Ford in Cass and the 4th Avenue Gallery in the Depot in Marlinton.
“The first time I heard about the Pocahontas County Artisans Co-op was in early June,” Brumbaugh said. “I was just walking around and shooting pictures around Cass and happened to stop in at the Leatherbark Gallery.
“After I saw the amazing work they have there, I asked how to go about being a member.”
He submitted his application in late June, was juried in July, and became a member at the end of August.
“My work has been received pretty well,” Brumbaugh said.
“I’m grateful that the other members seem to like it.
“It’s a bigger deal to me when a fellow artist appreciates your work, so that kind of reception has been really nice.
“And it means a great deal that the public reception has been good, too.
“My work is selling a lot better than I thought it would,” Brumbaugh admitted.
“I sell maybe one to three small prints a month at Scarlet & Gray and figured I’d do about as well at the Co-Op, but so far I’ve sold quite a bit more.
“My print of the Gaudineer Knob sunrise has been the most popular, which is crazy, because my dad had to talk me into getting that one printed,” Brumbaugh said, laughing.
Sometimes father does know best.