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6:14 AM Mon, Nov. 19th

LIVING LEGACIES: Photographer views portraits as heirlooms for families

Bruce Roscoe's impressive photos of Monument Valley and horses running wild in Northern Arizona canyons are among his works on display at Arts Prescott Cooperative Gallery. But he singled out "Enduring Moments," a portrait of Navajo elder and weaver Susie Yazzie embraced by her daughter Effie Yazzie, as his favorite.

"This is what means the most to me," Roscoe said.

"Creating a portrait of Susie with her daughter - something the family can show the younger generation when they ask, 'What was she like?' A picture to help them remember her over the years."

The portrait is even more poignant for Roscoe since Susie passed away Sunday after an illness.

"Susie was a woman of great dignity and wisdom," Roscoe said. "She knew where she was going. The trip was inevitable, although sad for everyone who loves her."

Roscoe uses low light in the style of Yousuf Karsh and Monty Zucker to create heirloom portraits of senior citizens.

"It seems this generation has been forgotten, but they shouldn't be," said Roscoe as he showed a portrait of a granddaughter hugging her grandmother as they look over a book. "Our country owes a lot to these people."

Roscoe began taking photos after receiving a Brownie Bullet camera from his parents on his eighth birthday. When he was 18, Roscoe joined the U.S. Army and served as a combat photographer in Vietnam from 1967 to 1968.

Roscoe owned several businesses and studied portraiture with The New York Institute of Photography. Last year, Roscoe was chosen by the Arizona Professional Photographers Association as one of the top 10 photographers of the year.

Roscoe currently owns Aiyana Studio of Phototography in Prescott Valley, where he works with Maria Steiner, a makeup artist and nurse, to bring out older adults' beauty.

"We are careful not to take away the character it took a lifetime to build, but enhance who they are today," Roscoe said.

Steiner said she feels she's become more compassionate by helping older adults look their best for their portraits.

"When I look into their eyes, I see what beautiful people they were when they were younger and the beautiful people they are now," Steiner said. "I feel like this is my purpose in life."

The older adults often say they've never done this before, and that they want to make their family happy, Steiner said.

"Bruce has an attitude that makes them content; he puts them at ease," Steiner said. "He was put in the right spot."

Roscoe is driven to give others what he missed out on. "I never had a really good portrait of my parents," Roscoe said. "So now I do it for other families."

Roscoe's exhibit will be on display until Feb. 22 at Arts Prescott Cooperative Gallery, 134 S. Montezuma in Prescott. For more information, call 776-7717 or email Roscoe at aiyanastudio@gmail.com.