Scott Butner suspects his mother picked out the camera on a whim — that it was the end of the work day, she needed a gift for his ninth birthday and there was the Petri 35.
She routinely visited pawn shops in Everett as part of her job as a police officer.
The Petri was $10.
Butner loved it. He started taking photos and never looked back.
“I like telling stories. People tell me that I see the world differently. I like to be able to record and share that,” he said.
Now 57, Butner is a well-known local photographer, with a Richland studio and a long list of subjects and fans.
While his bread and butter is wedding, commercial and portrait photography, he has a passion for capturing concerts.
He’s photographed acts big and small, international and local.
Butner hopes to mount an exhibition of his concert work in Walla Walla in time for the upcoming Gentlemen of the Road stopover, and he’s raising money to make it happen.
It will cost about $2,000 to make the large prints. As of Friday, he was about halfway there, with a deadline of early next week.
Butner, who’s photographed for the Tri-City Herald, spent almost 30 years as a research scientist at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory before setting up his own photography business.
It’s called Scott Butner Photography.
He fell in love with photography as a kid thanks to that Petri 35. By the time he was in high school, he was fielding job offers from photo studios.
He went to work for one after graduation and ended up as a team photographer for the Seattle Seahawks and the Seattle Sounders.
He eventually decided to go to college and earned a degree in chemical engineering.
He put away his cameras for a time, picking them back up seriously several years ago.
Along with his love for photography, Butner also is a lifelong music fan. His concert photography is a way to blend the passions.
While Butner has shot nationally touring acts, he focuses on local bands. He’s photographed more than 100 of them in recent years, from rock to country to rap to metal.
He shares his photos with the groups for free.
“He’s helped a lot of bands that way,” said Zac Mason, lead singer of the indie pop rock band Run From Cover. The group has roots in the Tri-Cities and now is based in Seattle.
Butner has captured Run From Cover in performance numerous times and also shot promos for the band.
Mason said Butner has a gift for “capturing cool moments” on stage and coming up with creative ideas for photo shoots.
“He’s a really good guy and we’re big fans,” Mason said.
Butner said he’s not naturally at ease at concerts, at clubs.
But, “but if you put a camera in my hand I feel like I belong there. I feel at home,” he said. “Ever since I picked up a camera, that’s been my preferred way to encounter the world.”
He hopes the Walla Walla exhibit — at Main Street Studios, where Butner often photographs performances — will bring a higher level of exposure to his concert photography.
Music industry insiders will be in town for the music festival, which features bands including Mumford & Sons, Foo Fighters and The Flaming Lips.
The stopover festival is Aug. 14-15.
Butner expects the Main Street Studios exhibit to stay up indefinitely.