About the Authors of Wild Beauty

John Laursen is a writer, designer, editor, and typographer. For four decades he has owned and operated Press-22, a Portland studio specializing in the design and production of high-quality books and text-based public art projects. Among the institutions for which he has produced books and art catalogues are the Oregon Historical Society, the Portland Art Museum, Whitman College, Reed College, Marylhurst University, Oregon Health & Science University, and the Regional Arts & Culture Council. His work in public art includes the creation of commemorative installations for the Oregon Cultural Heritage Commission and serving on the design team for the Oregon Holocaust Memorial. The Special Collections archive at the University of Oregon’s Knight Library maintains a collection of works on paper from Press-22, which is updated annually.

Laursen was born in Tacoma, Washington; as a child he lived in Washington, Oregon, Minnesota, Massachusetts, Arizona, and California. He first experienced the Columbia Gorge on his family’s many trips back and forth across the country. Laursen came to Oregon in the 1960s to attend Reed College, where he became further enthralled with the varied landscapes of the Pacific Northwest. In addition to his degree from Reed he holds a master’s degree in political science from UCLA.

Terry Toedtemeier was a native Portlander who traced his ancestry back to the pioneer migration along the Oregon Trail in the 1850s. In 1975 he was a co-founder of Portland’s Blue Sky photography gallery; a decade later he became the first curator of photography at the Portland Art Museum. In that position, Toedtemeier assembled a collection of more than five thousand works for the Museum and mounted a wide variety of exhibitions. For more than thirty years he studied the history of photography in the American West, with a particular focus on the photography of the Columbia River Gorge.

Toedtemeier was himself an accomplished photographer whose work was deeply informed by his study of the geology of the Northwest. He earned a degree in earth sciences from Oregon State University and received numerous grants and awards for his ongoing photographic exploration of the region’s basalt formations. His awards include fellowships from the Flintridge Foundation and the Regional Arts & Culture Council, and a master’s fellowship from the Oregon Arts Commission.


In 2002, Terry Toedtemeier and John Laursen founded the Northwest Photography Archive as a way to document the stunning photographic heritage of this region. Wild Beauty is the first in a series of books that they conceived of at the outset of their work together. In December 2008, just three months after the publication of Wild Beauty, Toedtemeier died following a slide lecture that the two gave about the book to an audience in Hood River. The Northwest Photography Archive continues to honor the commitment to the photography of the Pacific Northwest that Toedtemeier and Laursen envisioned when they founded the Archive. See memorial tributes to Terry Toedtemeier here.