New gallery in Bellbrook showcases photography

Works of 11 area photographers are on exhibit.

Credit: Marty Welch

Credit: Marty Welch

A group of our area’s most talented photographers have banded together to create a new art gallery designed to inspire and delight. When you pay a visit to the new Sugarcreek Photography Gallery in Bellbrook, chances are you’ll leave with a smile.

That’s because many of the photos on display focus on the beauty of the natural world: magnificent landscapes, amazing animals in their natural habitats, gorgeous birds. You’ll also see some dramatic still life photos and iconic views of the Miami Valley. Though good photography often captures tragic and heart-wrenching images, this group of photographers has chosen to emphasize awe-inspiring slices of life. After years of dealing with a devastating pandemic, the new gallery comes at an especially welcome time.

In addition to seeing work by 11 core photographers who mostly live –or have roots– within miles of Bellbrook, the shop also plans to feature guest artists who will show their work and speak on their personal photographic journey.

These photographers have already enjoyed other careers: some have been military officers or retired DOD civilians, others work in the healthcare industry. There’s a teacher, a paralegal, a DP&L/LexisNexis employee and the current owner of Oregon Printing. The amount of time they’ve been devoting to serious photography ranges from eight to 50 years. Nearly all of them are long-time members of the Tripod Camera Club.



Stop by the gallery just to enjoy the art, to hear a talk or to purchase a photograph for your home or office. The gallery operates using a wall rental approach. “We don’t have employees, so our gallery is manned by one of our photographers, which means customers are purchasing a print from someone who understands photography, can describe the process, and advise on how to display and protect the print,” explains Jeff Smith, one of four friends who became business partners when they opened the gallery. The others are Bill Welch, Bill Woody and Judd Plattenburg.

Paying a visit

A few weeks ago, after a yummy brunch at Bellbrook’s popular Blueberry Cafe, a friend and I headed for an open house at the gallery which is currently highlighting work by members Bill and Marty Welch. The married couple has been photographing together for 50 years and share a passion for wildlife and wild habitats. In addition to a range of their regular work on display, the Welch’s images of bald eagles are currently being featured in the entryway.

In their fascinating artist talk, the two shared their photography journey. They especially love photographing birds in flight and journeyed to Homer, Alaska to photograph bald eagles snatching fish out of the Kachemak Bay. They’ve been to South Texas and Galveston Island for the songbird migration and to British Columbia to find and photograph Great Gray Owls.

Credit: Judd Platenburg

Credit: Judd Platenburg

“Nature photography is all about patience and endurance and luck,” Marty told the audience. The two have exercised that patience in many remote locations: they’ve traveled to Iceland in the winter and headed several hundred miles above the Arctic Circle to a remote wilderness lodge in the Northwest Territories of Canada. They’ve traveled over 600 miles on the Amazon River in Peru as well as nearly 500 miles up the Dalton Highway from Fairbanks Alaska to the Arctic Ocean, and then out to an island in the Beaufort Sea to photograph polar bears and the northern lights. This month they traveled to Northwest Colorado to capture wild mustangs.

These adventures are not without hazards. “In the wilds of British Columbia, after photographing a red tail hawk’s nest on a very steep mountainside, we were walking out in near dark,” Marty relates. “The ground gave way under Bill’s feet and he fell, severing his rotator cuff, hitting his head on a rock and breaking a few bones in his hand. He was carrying a large tripod in his left hand and his camera with a 600 mm lens in his right hand. This was the third day of a 17-day trip, and it did not deter Bill from continuing to photograph great gray owls and loons with chicks for the remainder of the trip. He just needed some help.”

Meet the other photographers

Smith says the gallery seeks out photographers who represent a variety of genres and interests. Here’s a brief rundown of the other permanent members whose work is always on display:

  • Judd Plattenburg’s subject matter ranges from river scenes to ballet dancers in Cuba.
  • Susan Willin enjoys compositing different photographic images and using her imagination to create pieces of digital art.

  • Jeff Smith, cites studies that have shown art can soothe those who are ill. He now has 370 prints hanging in healthcare facilities throughout the Miami Valley. Recently the US Postal Service used one of his images in the “The Mighty Mississippi’' stamp series.

Credit: Copyright © 2019 Jeffrey M. Smi

Credit: Copyright © 2019 Jeffrey M. Smi

  • Beth Larsen loves capturing a part of a person’s life in a still life photograph. “I often take something that is ordinary such as boots or spools of thread, and make them beautiful .”

  • Bill Woody features dancers and models in urban ruins along with roadside photography.
  • Lloyd Greene specializes in local rodeos and also travels around the world.
  • Bob Hawkins is currently focusing on still-life light painting.It is technically challenging, but the results can be quite dramatic,” he explains. " Light painting is a photographic technique where the subject is ‘painted’ with light from a handheld light source (such as a small flashlight) in a dark room during a long exposure.” He says this fine control of light increases the three dimensional nature of the subjects.
  • Laura James photographs area landscapes as well as national parks.
  • Dan Landis creates landscape, nature and architectural photography “with the intention of evolving spiritual and transcendental presence.”

Available for purchase

If you’re wondering about prices, unframed prints sell for $35-$120; framed (ready-to-hang) prints range from $80 to $800; metal prints run $75 to $400 depending upon the size.

The majority of the ready-to-hang canvas prints available for purchase are prepared at Dayton Art Solutions in Kettering and use pigment inks rated for 95-years. The metal photos are printed using a dye-sublimation process.

The wide selection includes over 300 framed ready-to-hang prints with another 200 ready-to-frame prints displayed for additional browsing. If you see a photograph you’d like in a different size, that can be arranged and custom orders are also taken. “Recently, we had a request for a pelican print,” says Smith, “We also have several customers who want to understand what their space will look like with one of our prints on the wall. Once they provide us with an image of their space, we offer them several digital renditions so the client can make an informed choice.”

The gallery is also willing to provide artistic prints on a consignment basis to businesses that might be interested in showing them.


What: The Sugarcreek Photography Gallery

Where: 15 W. Franklin Street, Bellbrook

When: 3-7 p.m. Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. Visitors can also schedule a special appointment by texting or calling 937-317-0170. For more information: or 937-317-0170.

Related programming: (free of charge)

  • “A Celebration of Bald Eagles” at 2 and 5 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 13 by Bill and Marty Welch
  • “The Works of Jeff Smith. " Images of the Dayton skyline and local parks. Talks at 2 and 5 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 27.
  • “The Works of Skip Peterson,” a photographer for the Dayton Daily News for 34 years. For the month of October, Peterson’s photographs will be on display at the gallery. He will share his story at 2 and 5 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 8.

Credit: Copyright © 2022 Jeffrey M. Smi

Credit: Copyright © 2022 Jeffrey M. Smi

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