Dainis Hazners received an MFA in Photography from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. He also has a BA in History from the University of Rochester. For many years, Hazners was a Partner at The Book Shop in Sheridan. He won numerous grants and awards for his work as a writer, including a Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, and three Fellowships from the Wyoming Arts Council. His book (some of) The Adventures of Carlyle, My Imaginary Friend won the Iowa Poetry Prize and was published by the University of Iowa Press. He has shown photography at the Sheridan County Library in a show with his late wife Kate Mullaney, in 2016. In the Spring of 2018 he had a show of photographs at the Brinton Museum. In July 2021 he showed photographs at the Sheridan County Fulmer Public Library, along with Dick Kehrwald and Beverly Kleiber. Dainis Hazners has lived south of Story since 1987, where he keeps goats, chickens, and tends a fruit orchard.
For more than half a century! I have been taking photographs -- a happy compulsion I return to again and again. Photography, poetry and music are the three mainstays in my life.
The first camera I ever used was a Retina. My father brought it with him from the DP camps in Germany. Latvian refugees, my relatives arrived in America in 1956. My parents married 22 days before my birth on January 22, 1957. I was 13 when Dad lent me the Retina.
Many things have interested me over many years, but the most long-lasting has been my obsession with the Powder River Basin. When I first moved to Wyoming, in 1987, I found work building fence out in the shortgrass prairie east of Sheridan. I fell in love with that place. Thousands of acres of undeveloped lands exist there, some private, some State, and some BLM. A sometimes flat and sometimes rolling land, it is intersected by steep draws and arroyos, with few trees or shrubs except in the bottoms of drainages or creeks. The Powder River Basin, that land drained by the Powder River and its tributaries, occupies approximately 24,000 square miles.
Concerned about ongoing development in the extractive industries, I set out in 2014 to document the unique aspects of that landscape. So far, I have driven over 10,000 miles and captured approximately 20,000 digital images. In the last three years I have begun exploring public lands on foot, with my Best companion, Libby the golden retriever. She figures in some of the photographs, if for nothing else as a reference of scale in that huge landscape. It is a very different experience to leave the road and walk out into the emptiness.
In 2020 I began a new project, exclusively in black and white, portraits of friends. In 2021, also in black and white, I began capturing portraits of trees. Besides these “serious” projects, I enjoy the looseness and fun of taking photographs with an iPhone.