Photographer has traveled across the world, but says life in the Valley is truly special.
Local photographer Rhett Arens enjoys early mornings the most — it’s the time of day when the Valley is still quiet. Usually, it’s just him, off exploring and taking his camera with him, hoping to encounter something rare, poignant and beautifully unique.
“The light can be really special at that time of day; there’s some mist and some fog sometimes, the angle of the light is good. So sometimes, I’ll get up, and I’ll go to Prescott, or I’ll go to Hudson or Marine on St. Croix, Taylors Falls, obviously Stillwater, Bayport,” Arens says.
He keeps an open mind when searching for the best shots. “You get into these little back bays, points along the river, or maybe it’s a tree framed up just perfectly against something,” Arens says.
Arens and his wife, Veronica, are both retired and have lived in West Lakeland Township for the past 25 years. Together, they’ve raised two sons and now have two grandsons.
“It’s a beautiful town, Stillwater. I’m very partial to Stillwater. I always say if I was traveling through Europe and came across a scenic town like Stillwater, I would be stopped in my tracks. We tend to take it for granted, living here, but it’s special,” Arens says.
While pursuing photography on the side, Arens also worked full time for 3M for nearly 30 years. He started out in research and development, then later transferred into international business development, sales and marketing.
“I always had a desire to have an outlet for being creative on some level. Also, I’m a pragmatic guy so, well, I can’t go crazy here, I have a family, wife, kids,” he says. “Photography was kind of something where you can jump in and out of it.”
Over the years, his work has been published in the Boundary Waters Journal, The Golfer’s Journal, Lake Superior Magazine, The Paris Review, Travel & Leisure and more. He’s also provided photography for the Minnesota Twins.
As much as he revels in the views of the St. Croix Valley, Arens confesses to being bit by the travel bug, too. He’s visited more than 60 countries.
“I love how photography helps drive the need to explore, especially when traveling; it pushes me to look for fresh perspectives,” he says. ”I’ve met many wonderful people over the years from all corners of the world. I’m always amazed at how much common ground exists between strangers when you open up conversations.”
His advice for those at the beginning of their photography journey? “Get off the beaten corridors that you’re told to travel. Find those moments,” Arens says.
To view more of Arens’ work, visit rhettarens.com.