Professional photographers use their heart, their talents, and their tools to document the “who, what, and where” of life, from its ugly and unbelievable underbelly to the most famous people and beautiful places on earth.

Jay Mather has made this his life’s mission. The Sisters Area Photography Club (SAPC) invites the public to its October meeting, where Mather will present a retrospective program called “From Cambodia to the Cascades: A Photographer’s 40-year Visual Life.”

The meeting is Wednesday, October 9 from 4 to 6 p.m. in the Community Room of Sisters Library. The club encompasses members from professionals to beginners who want to get more into — and out of — their images. While the club and its meetings are always open to new members, this month’s program is of particular interest to the entire community, as one of our own residents is the featured presenter.

As Mather explains, “A photojournalist working in the newspaper industry covers wide-ranging topics, events, and people, from the rich and famous to the poor and nameless. In the arc of my career, there are several topics at the core of my evolution, from Pulitzer-Prize photojournalism to the serenity of landscape photography in Oregon.”

Mather will present and discuss his work, from Cambodia to Yosemite National Park, the world of ballet, the artists of Sisters Folk Festival, and the landscapes of Central Oregon.

“When I reflect on each of these projects, I understand how each one moved me visually in a new direction, and added a deeper respect for the value of documentary photography,” he said.

Mather first became interested in photography as a Peace Corps volunteer in Malaysia in 1969-70. His career in photojournalism went from Denver, Colorado to Louisville, Kentucky and Sacramento, California. He spent time with Mother Teresa and the Missionaries of Charity, Pope John Paul II, and President Clinton. He’s covered stories on hunger, homelessness, AIDS, and war. In November, 1979, while working for the Courier-Journal in Louisville, he and fellow journalist Joel Brinkley traveled to the Thailand-Cambodia border to document the mass exodus of Cambodian refugees fleeing the wrath of the Khmer Rouge and the invading North Vietnamese Army. They documented what’s become known as “The Killing Fields,” and their coverage earned the 1980 Pulitzer Prize for International Reporting.

Mather will share his deep love and respect for the environment, as documented in projects on Yosemite National Park, the Desert Protection Act in California, the declining health of the Sierra Mountain Range, and the ongoing drought in the Colorado River Basin. The Yosemite Association published his book, “Yosemite: A Landscape of Life,” in 1990 for the national park’s centennial celebration. The project earned Mather honors as a finalist for the 1991 Pulitzer Prize Feature Photography category, and his nickname, “Yosemite Jay.”

His most current chapter examines the natural beauty of Central Oregon, the high desert, and threats to our region brought on by climate change. He divides his efforts between the Deschutes Land Trust and the Sisters Folk Festival, documenting the activities of these non-profit organizations.

For more information about the Sisters Area Photography Club, or the upcoming meeting, contact SAPC President Bill Birnbaum via email at Bill@BillBirnbaum.com.