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Photographer Jeff Mitchum finally gets gallery at Bellagio

When landscape photographer Jeff Mitchum’s gallery opened in Bellagio, 3600 Las Vegas Blvd. South, earlier this month, it signified not only a beginning but an end, too.

Twelve years of waiting for the opportunity to showcase his work in one of Las Vegas’ most popular and exclusive resorts was over, proving that perhaps one of the important qualities a photographer can possess is the willingness to wait for the perfect shot.

"There are a lot of places we could have been in Vegas, but I wanted to be exclusively in Bellagio," Mitchum says. "Jimi Hendrix said it best when he said, ‘I’m no longer interested in being heard. I want to be heard in the wisest of ways.’ I want to be seen in the wisest of ways."

Mitchum’s work, which had been available through other Bellagio outlets, was so popular that it made sense to have a Jeff Mitchum Gallery, says Andrew Hagopian, senior vice president of MGM Resorts Retail.

"When space became available where he could showcase his incredible work, we knew it would be a great fit for the resort," Hagopian says.

During his 30-plus-year career, Mitchum has become known for the detail and vibrant color in his photos of landscapes around the world. His prints are released in collections of 300 or less, which lends itself to the aura of exclusiveness Bellagio exudes.

Among the limited editions in his gallery are nine prints of Israel he shot during 37 visits spread over a 24-year span. Israel is to him, Mitchum says, as Yosemite National Park was to Ansel Adams: a place he can return to and always find something new and wondrous to photograph.

"Every time you turn around, there’s an experience waiting for you," Mitchum says.

Waiting seems to be as much a theme in his career as color and composition. He waited more than a decade for a spot in Bellagio. And he waited 15 years to take the photograph that Mitchum calls his "Mona Lisa," a photo of sunlight streaming over the Eastern Sierra mountains underlined by a band of trees turning into the oranges and yellows of fall.

He named it "Third Day" for the spiritual meaning it possesses to him. The one of one collector’s print is on display in the gallery and is priced at $1.2 million.

" ‘Third Day,’ that was 15 years of waiting for everything to come together," Mitchum says. "You wait for a scene like that to develop in front of the camera, going back … year after year, waiting for the colors to develop, to have a dramatic sky with the dramatic light … when that happens, it’s a ‘Mona Lisa.’ "

The print represents a once-in-a-lifetime experience and contains the qualities that Mitchum strives for in all of his work: relatability, dramatic light, vibrant colors, and unique and strong subject matter. Mitchum wants people to look at his works and see them as a door opening "up into eternity."

Not everything is priced for the millionaire club. Mitchum wants to be "all things to all people" so he offers a variety of price points starting at $175 for a book of photos. The average price of his work is about $4,000, he says.

While growing up in California, Mitchum was inspired to take up photography by his father, who had been an avid hunter. The idea of hunting and shooting wildlife didn’t appeal to him until he was about 12, when his father suggested he try shooting them with a camera, instead.

That became the beginning of a 30-plus year career and sparked his passion for conservation, as well.

In addition to his photography, Mitchum designs eco-furniture made from infertile palm trees harvested from abandoned plantations. His handmade furniture also is available at his gallery.

Among other items on display are an original manuscript written by John Muir, the founder of the Sierra Club, and a pair of hiking boots that belonged to Ansel Adams.

Contact reporter Sonya Padgett at spadgett@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-4564.

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