Featured Artist: Jeff Scovil
Scovil has been fascinated by the natural world since childhood, when he assembled his own “museum” with specimens of insect nests, butterflies, and other natural collections in his family’s home in Westport, Connecticut. Jeff “started collecting minerals at the age of eight, and as the other natural history interests fell by the wayside, the passion for minerals stayed on.”
The gift of his first camera upon graduation from high school sparked a lifelong interest in photography. In 1971, the camera accompanied him to the American southwest on a trip to gather fossils for the American Museum of Natural History.
In 1972, Scovil returned to the southwest for an archeological dig of the Salmon Ruins in northwestern New Mexico. The next year he became the dig’s laboratory photographer, and had the opportunity to hone his scientific close-up shots.
Three years later Scovil combined two of his passions and began photographing minerals. Though the results were “less than spectacular,” he continued to follow his interest, perfecting the craft for nine years before getting published in 1984 with an article in Rocks & Minerals magazine. His piece became the first of a series on mineral photography and was followed by appearances in the Mineral Record.
In 1990, Scovil began to turn his mineral photography hobby into a business. His hard work paid off. He is now Associate photographer for both Rocks & Minerals and The Mineralogical Record. He appears on the masthead as a contributor to Lapis (Germany), Le Regne Mineral (France), and Lapis International, and contributes to publications in Spain, Germany, and Poland, as well as World of Stone and the Mineralogical Almanac (Russia). His work has also appeared several times in Arizona Highways, including a special Gallery section devoted to his photos of Arizona minerals.
For twenty-two years Jeff has run the Seminar in Mineral Photography at the Tucson Gem & Mineral Show as well as the Mineral Photography Competition. Twelve of the posters for the famous Tucson Gem & Mineral Show have featured Jeff’s photographs. His work has also graced show posters in Ste. Marie-aux-Mines, Grenoble, Lyon and Paris (all in France), Siegen, Wolfach and Munich, Germany and Peshawar, Pakistan. He also lectures regularly at Mineral shows, symposia and for mineral clubs across North America and Europe.
Additional highlights of his numerous accomplishments include photography for several seminal mineral books, including Minerals by George Robinson (Simon and Schuster, 1994), Peterson Field Guides Rocks and Minerals by Frederick H. Pough (Houghton Mifflin, 1996), numerous museums around the world, and his own book, Photographing Minerals, Fossils, and Lapidary Arts (Geoscience Press, 1996), the only book ever written on the subject. He has shot eleven posters for the Tucson Gem and Mineral Show and for twenty years has run the show’s seminar in mineral photography, as well as the mineral photography competition. Scovil received the Carnegie Mineralogical Award in 2007.
Gems & Minerals of the Southwest by Jennifer Sano (Images by Jeffrey Scovil) is available at the Arizona Experience Store.