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Conversations with David Coblitz

Today we’d like to introduce you to David Coblitz.

Hi David, please kick things off for us with an introduction to yourself and your story.
I spent a long career with McDonnell Douglas/Boeing working on visual systems for aircraft simulators designed to train pilots. I was mainly involved in research & product development, though I spent seven years between stints at McDonnell as a branch manager for an engineering consulting company called DCS Corp in Washington, DC area. That experience taught me a lot about most aspects of running a small business. After retiring early from Boeing, I decided to take up photography and start a photography business. With Boeing, I enjoyed creating new products, but it took years, many people, and lots of money to develop a new product. What I have enjoyed about photography is that I can express that creativity in days to months with just myself or a few collaborators.

As I’ve been in the photography business since 2006, I’ve realized that I needed to narrow the scope of what I try to market. Each time realizing that to devote the required time to it, I had to narrow my scope more & more. At this point, I focus my attention almost exclusively on what I call “functional art”, which is art designed to serve a particular purpose for the owner of a space and those who enter the space be they employees or clients. Most of my work along these lines is art designed to lower stress for patients and staff in medical facilities. This is based upon research into hospital design referred to as Evidence Based Design. It shows that engrossing nature scenes are the most effective for this purpose & that is the bulk of what I create now.

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Obstacles are many and large. The actual creation of the imagery is the easy part for me. This spring has been a particularly beautiful and bountiful source of imagery. Marketing it is the difficult part. Many people are unaware of how art can have a large effect on those in its presence. Many hospitals have preferred providers from whom they buy exclusively. Those providers typically use stock photography for which they pay an annual fee, so they’re disinclined to use local artists much. I’ve had luck with some national distributors who offer my work and I’ve always had a presence in local art galleries, such as Componere Gallery in the University City Loop where I have a number of pieces at present. I’ve been active in the local art/photography community such as with the St. Louis Artists’ Guild and St. Louis Camera Club. These have provided camaraderie and mutual skill development.

Alright, so let’s switch gears a bit and talk business. What should we know about your work?
My work is exemplified on my website: There are many St. Louis and other city scenes and many more stress relieving images from such places as the Missouri Botanical Gardens, Shaw Nature Preserve, Meramec River Valley, Wildwood, and other local areas. I love night photography and have enjoyed creating panoramic images. My work is shown in several foreign countries as well as locally. I’ve also had my work published in magazines, such as Missouri Life magazine and in the New York Times online. I have a student now whom I enjoy teaching various photographic & lighting techniques. I’ve done just about every kind of photography, but as discussed above, primarily do fine art photography now.

Risk taking is a topic that people have widely differing views on – we’d love to hear your thoughts.
The biggest risk I’ve taken followed my creating a 360 degree panoramic night scene of the St. Louis City Garden. I decided that it deserved to be displayed in such a way that it would completely fill the viewer’s vision, so I created a 6 ft diameter 7 ft tall aluminum half-cylinder version of it with color on the inside and black & white on the outside. I’ve displayed it at several galleries around town since creating it, and it has always been very popular, but having invested a pretty large sum creating it, I’d like to sell it someday, so it can have an appropriate permanent home. Right now, it’s in the T-Rex facility downtown.

Another risk I took was creating a print on gold foil. For my birthday, I decided my present would be to allow myself to take the time to find a great spot from which to shoot downtown. After some hunting around, I found it atop Eads bridge. Then I printed it on gold foil. While it was at the printer’s shop, the gold foil manufacturer saw that print & shortly after, I received an email offering to buy a license to use it on their samples. So my birthday present to myself actually paid off in the long run. That print is currently available at Componere Gallery.


  • $50-13,000

Contact Info:

Image Credits
All photographs created by David Coblitz.

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