09/12/2012 08:09 am ET Updated Nov 12, 2012

Dan Winters Retrospective By Nick Offerman

Ironically, I have been asked to describe this photographer with 1,000 words. Given the profound affection I feel towards him and his work, it will be a challenge to wrap it up so briefly. Humor, beauty, erudition, skill, generosity, fun. There's six.

Dan Winters and I had exchanged a few sincerely firm handshakes in 1999, but it was at the bachelor party of a mutual friend in July of 2000 that I feel we first truly took each other's measure. Dan and I were to appear as fellow groomsmen in the impending nuptials, and I clearly recall a gratifying sense of relief when I was told that, instead of the traditionally misogynistic stripper fete complete with uncomfortably soused fraternity brothers, Dan would be leading we grooms-buddies on a hike to a swimming hole in his native Ventura County. "God damn", I thought, "this Dan guy might be all right." I didn't know any of the guys except the groom, but having been brought up properly in a fine, rural Illinois family, I was reasonably certain I knew just how to comport myself in this situation. I arrived at the location with a canvas army backpack filled with ice and a case of Coronas. To my relief, my new compatriots quickly confirmed that I had acted appropriately in the arena of refreshments, then Dan took one look at my vintage World War 2 backpack and told me the exact Allied campaign in which it had been utilized, as well as the year the Swiss switched over from canvas to leather shoulder straps. A crush began to blossom in the springtime of my heart. He said, "C'mon. You guys are gonna love this place."

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