Life Through the Lens of Bob Otis

The arts have always been a part of Bob Otis’ life, a passion he has continued to pursue and share with others since moving to The Oaks in 2014.

From his time in the army playing clarinet in a Command Band, to falling in love with photography at Bethany College, Bob never ventured far from great music, inspiring photography, the written word, and wonderful friendships rooted in creative expression.

 It was during his time at Bethany that Bob’s love affair with photography blossomed. His appreciation for this powerful medium would last a lifetime, capturing seemingly fleeting moments and preserving them for future generations.

It is also at Bethany where Bob met the love of his life, Pauline. Their mutual appreciation for artistic expression sparked a love affair that would last throughout their life together.

Following graduation, the Otis’ lived in Missouri, where Bob started his career in a photography studio, where he diligently honed his craft. Recognizing this was not just a passion, but his life’s calling, Bob furthered his education at the Brooks Institute, widely regarded as the best photography school in the world.

Throughout his career, Bob had the privilege of crossing paths with several renowned photographers whose work he admired deeply. But none were as popular as Ansel Adams, one of the most well-known landscape photographers of the 20th Century.

A friendship was formed and a few of Adams’ original photos adorn the walls of Bob’s home at The Oaks to this day. Notably, Adams was featured on the cover of TIME magazine in September 1979 with a camera from the company where Bob was Vice President of Marketing.

 It was one of the first precision high-tech “L-frame” large format cameras that could go on location in a backpack. He laughed. “Can you imagine?”

Reflecting on his admiration for Adams’ work, Otis points to the iconic “Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico” as his favorite work. The iconic image is widely thought of as “one of the most famous and iconic photographic images in history,” according to The Ansel Adams Gallery.

The photo has stood the test of time as an example of Adams’ mastery of landscape photography and is lauded for capturing the sublime beauty of the American West.

As for his works, Otis fondly recalls “Portrait of a Girl Named Madison,” noting his subject did not smile once during the session, evoking a sense of wonder at what thoughts in her mind resulted in such lack of expression.

After concluding his career teaching photography at Elgin Community College in Elgin, Illinois, Bob retired and moved to The Oaks at Bartlett.

 “After touring the Oaks, I knew this is where I belonged,” Otis said. “Other communities I visited felt very impersonal; the Oaks felt like it was the right place to be.”

Like many, Otis made the move to escape the endless list of chores around the house such as raking leaves, mowing grass, and cleaning gutters.

“Now I enjoy spending that time with friends, going on outings, learning new skills, and sharing my perspective on the art of photography.”

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