Capturing the pasts of Vail Valley’s characters |

Capturing the pasts of Vail Valley’s characters

Taylor L Roozen
Vail, CO Colorado
Brent Bingham/Special to the Vail DailyVail doctor Jack Eck spent over 1,000 hours in Chinook helicopters during

VAIL, Colorado –Photographer Brent Bingham rarely goes a week in the Vail Valley without meeting someone who sparks his interest. Maybe it’s something about living in the mountains, he says, but people here tend to have really interesting backgrounds.

About a year and a half ago he decided to start documenting these folks with portrait shots.

Bingham’s photo series, “Portraits of a History,” focuses on the often unknown pasts of respected Vail Valley residents.

The series will run for a total of six months, beginning in July. Each month, a different portrait will be posted at the Edwards Starbucks, featuring local characters who have struck Bingham’s interest.

“It’s not something we usually do,” said Heather Long, store manager at the Edwards Starbucks. “It is a great opportunity to display local members of the community, who have done a lot for the community around them.”

Take Dr. Jack Eck for example, the focus of July’s portrait. Eck has lived in the Vail area since 1971, and helped get the hospital going by getting donations and providing health care, Bingham said.

“Everybody that’s lived here loves Jack,” he said.

He said that Eck is one of the best known doctors in the valley, but few know that hew was a flight surgeon in Vietnam.

“He spent a year there and had some really bad days as you can imagine. He went in on Chinook helicopters to get guys out of fire fights and did the first medical treatment,” he said.

Due to the risk of losing a pilot during these rescue attempts, Eck and other surgeons had to learn to pilot the helicopters themselves, Bingham said.

In order to present the less understood aspects of Eck’s life, Bingham snapped a picture of him wearing his flight suit and sitting in a Chinook helicopter.

“The whole concept is to bring that element of history into a photo,” he said, “just to really show people … that he had this history.”

Bingham has been taking pictures since he was in high school, he said.

He and his wife, Barbara, started a w photo re-touching and scanning business in Washington D.C. They had 800 clients, including National Geographic, Discovery Channel, Smithsonian and Time Life, when they moved to the Vail Valley in 1993 to raise their kids, he said.

The Binghams print the photos for the series at their home in Edwards.

For more information on the Brent Bingham’s photo show, “Portraits of a History,” call the Edwards Starbucks at 970-926-5444.

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