Wheelchair-bound Chandler photographer wins local prizes - SanTan Sun News SanTan Sun News

Wheelchair-bound Chandler photographer wins local prizes

July 11th, 2017 development
Wheelchair-bound Chandler photographer wins local prizes

By Christina Fuoco-Karasinski

Greg Wickenburg was an active teenager in Seattle, playing Little League baseball and riding on his skateboard and BMX bike.

This whole life changed when he was 17, however. An automobile accident left him a C5 quadriplegic; paralyzed from the shoulders down. He is unable to use his hands, fingers, waist and legs. He does have partial arm movement.

Now living in Chandler, Wickenburg is proof that with the right intent, anything can happen. He won several prizes in the sixth annual Environmental Education Center Annual Nature Photo Contest.

His photograph, The ConDuktor, won first place in the Creature Worth Noticing category, People’s Choice Award and Conrad Schuknecht Award (Best Story). Roadrunner took home the prize for This Beautiful City. Duckwings garnered third prize for Creature Worth Noticing.

“It was quite unexpected,” Wickenburg said. “I think I won because everyone likes ducks and roadrunners, and I think they just happened to be really good photos.”

Wickenburg began pursuing photography in December. He initially tried to take up the hobby in the 1990s, but with his disability, it was difficult to use cameras with film.

“It was so expensive to develop them,” he said. “Plus, I couldn’t operate the cameras well. Recently, though, I found great camera holders and the digital cameras with touchscreens and backscreens that can rotate. I can then use my little computer stylus to change settings. That made it a lot easier. I put the shutter cable in my mouth.”

Wickenburg specializes in double-exposure photos, although the winning artwork were traditional pictures. He has received no formal training. Double exposure or multiple exposure, is a technique that combines two different images into one. He blends a person or animal with Arizona landscape.

Art One Gallery 4130 N. Marshall Way, Scottsdale has been showing and selling his art, as is the website Fine Art America.

“We didn’t even know about him being in a wheelchair at first,” said Kraig Foote, owner of Art One Gallery. “We saw his work and thought it was amazing. The fact that it was double exposure was incredible.

“Then, on top of being talented, we found out he’s a cool guy.”

Wickenburg would like to pursue a career in photography. To do so, he needs to upgrade his van, which he describes as no longer reliable. He is continuing a GoFundMe account to raise money for a newer used wheelchair accessible van, which would start at around $25,000. The fund can be accessed here: gofundme.com/qe6wk5jg.

New ones that meet his needs start at $65,000. Soon he has an appointment with vocational rehabilitation to see if it will lend a hand because the request is work related.

“They won’t buy a van, convert it and put driving equipment in it,” he said. “I would need a new van. If they do it, I would need about $40,000, but then I could get a van I could drive, which would be really cool.”

He won’t find out until mid-July.

In the meantime, he is cherishing his awards as well as a potential career in photography.

“I would love to have people bring their pets over and I could take photos of their pets for them,” he said. “Even though a lot of people really like the photos, I think people would enjoy them more if their animals or family were in them. I have very little stamina, so working full time is difficult. I would love to do this, though.”

Where to find Greg Wickenburg’s art: