Steve Terrill has a deep and lifelong relationship with Oregon. Whenever he visits the Rowena Peak in the Columbia River Gorge, it is often fully displayed. Not long ago, he strolled a trail leading to the magnificent Columbia River. He stopped every few yards to admire the incredible color commotion that erupted.
“This is an explosion of color, isn’t it,” the excited Trier exclaimed as he went to the Tom McCall Sanctuary in Rowena for a morning photography field trip. “A hundred flowers bloom, a hundred flowers bloom. It’s like the world is reborn again… It’s so beautiful here.”
Steve Terrill’s on-site routines are smooth, precise and efficient. His tripod, camera, and moving his eyes to the lens all seem to be a smooth extension of his soul. He told me that the beauty of the wind-blown plateau and 200 acres of land was jaw-dropping.
“I can stay here for a few hours to do this! I like spring in the canyon very much. I really want to!” For more than 40 years, Terrill has ventured here across the Great Pacific Northwest. He especially likes to show us the magnificence of Oregon; from the distant horizon to the rugged scenery, to the place where the light and shadow are suffocating.
Steve is a dream job! He is a long-term freelance photographer, chasing perfect light from the Siskiyou Mountains to the Snake River, from the Columbia River Mouth to the wasteland of the Owaihi River countryside.
“I was born and raised in Portland,” he explained to me in the canyon on a sunny morning in late April. He is collecting images for his annual “All Oregon” calendar.
“Actually, in northeastern Portland, I really like the diversity of shapes and colors and the huge scale of the landscape in Oregon. Also, as a freelancer, if I can keep my money and work in Oregon, then I am Helping us all.”
Over the decades, he has produced tens of thousands of all-Oregon calendars that have graced homes and offices around the world. Trier also shared his Oregon photos through dozens of books and hundreds of magazines, including Audubon, Sierra Club and National Geographic.
He showed places that most people can only dream of; images that look and feel like treasures in Steve’s heart. After experiencing a tragic and long illness, Trier passed away peacefully on January 5th.
But his career has been hot for so long; it started with a catastrophic event that marked millions of people: May 18, 1980 at Mount St Helens. At that time, on May 17, the budding professional player took a young son and a red zone pass to camp at Spirit Lake at the foot of Mount St Helens.
In 2005, he told me that he thought he had done it: the front seat of the mountain! But his youngest son, Steve, said they were in a bad situation: “I just don’t want to stay there. You know, this is one of the intuitions.”
Elder Steve pointed out, “I’m really angry because I thought I won the Pulitzer Prize there, just sitting there, if something happens, it would be great!”
So, unfortunately, he packed up and moved their camp a few miles away. They drove in the dark, returned to their way, and established a new camp.
The next morning, the mountain exploded into the history books, and Trier learned a tragic truth: Linghu was buried under the ashes of a mountain!
His voice was trembling, “I am indeed emotional! We were in Linghu the night before, if it weren’t for my son, I would never leave, and I—we, would not be here now! Boy, do I have Hugged my son,” Trier said emotionally. “I don’t know what else to do! Twenty-five years later, I will still be like this.”
As that day progressed, so did Steve.