Photographer and Teacher David Vernon

David Vernon

Do you know Central Illinois photographer David Vernon? If you’ve taken a photography class at Illinois Central College or at the Peoria Art Guild, then there’s a good chance he was your instructor. If you’ve visited the photo-sharing websites of the Peoria, Illinois Flickr Group, the Peoria Strobist Group, or any of the other 20 Flickr groups where he contributes photos, you may have seen his work. He also publishes the Central Illinois Photoblog where he posts a free computer calendar image each month. If you’ve never heard of David, you’ve probably seen his work on the covers of our local magazines. You may even have seen one of his 76 different photos of a particular tree near his home.

To say David is involved with Central Illinois photography is quite an understatement!

A native of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, David first became interested in photography at ten years of age when his father bought a Pentax Spotmatic 35mm SLR camera. His fascination with the photography led him to invest his hard earned money into more equipment, film and processing. He set up his own darkroom and learned to develop  film. In high school, he was a staff photographer for the Allderdice High School yearbook.  However, David never really considered photography as a profession. In college, he majored in math and statistics and eventually drifted away from photography.

Through the years, a move to the Peoria area and a successful career in information technology, David continued to shoot pictures here and there, but most were never printed. By 2003, he had accumulated quite a backlog of film and negatives to process, so he signed up for a darkroom course offered by the Peoria Art Guild. That class re-energized his photographic spirit.  Soon he was helping to teach the classes, and transitioned his career from information technology to commercial photography.

One day, David noticed a single tree standing alone by the highway. It was a mighty oak tree, with a thick trunk, strong branches and lacey leaves, and it was just begging to be photographed. On July 20, 2005 he began his ongoing relationship with “The Tree.” His caption to a post on Flickr on July 26, 2005 said it all, “There is a certain tree in a certain soybean field just outside a certain very small town in central Illinois. I plan to spend my life taking pictures of this tree.”

Artists will tell you that a self-assigned project is a good way to push yourself and to grow as an artist. David said that he used the tree project “to force myself to do something I haven’t done before.” He certainly hasn’t limited himself to the typical “tree and clouds in the sky” photos. He’s been there in all seasons, and in all kinds of weather. He’s experimented with night photography, abstracts, montages, and multiple image panels. Some are in color; others are simple black and white. All are beautiful.

To date, he’s posted 76 photos, and he’s still going. While he was posing for the accompanying photo, he pulled out his cell phone and took some more photos of the tree. Now, that’s dedication!

If you’d like more information about David, or to learn more about his classes and workshops, visit his website at

If you would like to participate in the Playing in Peoria project, please contact me at I’m looking for all types of Central Illinois artists and entertainers.

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About Craig

I have a passion to create, and I'm fascinated with the tools and technologies of creativity. My process is to interpret the scene through a combination of camera position, light and post-processing to present my unique vision and share the emotion I feel.