Man behind the film

Keith Davis

Photo By Adrienne Rice

Keith Davis, 54, is a man of many talents. A former Marine, he moved to Carson City in 1972, the same year he became a vegetarian. He and his wife, Terry, who runs a lab at the Veteran’s Administration Hospital, have lived in Steamboat for 16 years, where they grow a veritable cornucopia of vegetables in their back yard. Davis is also an avid outdoorsman and a crime scene photographer. By day, he develops film at Photo One, 6455 S. Virginia St., which shares the same space as a manicure salon, Nail Design. “You don’t mind if I’m a moving target?” Davis asked during his interview with the RN&R, as he operated complicated photo equipment—and helped the ladies next door unscrew stuck nail polish bottles.

How did you get into photo processing?

I started in this field in May of ‘73 at Carson Photo, which no longer exists. When I first moved up here, I was looking for work, and they had a lab manager training position. As it turns out, it was two blocks from my house. I had college chemistry and college physics, so I started working as a color printer. In September 1975, I completed the lab manager training program.

What kind of photos do you take?

Over the years, I’ve done almost everything, but mostly legal-type photos … crime scene and evidentiary photography. … I’ve done almost every major crime case in the last 30 years. … [At the University of Nevada, Reno, Judicial College], their photo evidence course is extremely good.

Did you always plan to be a photographer?

[Laughs.] No. My education is in psychiatric medicine.

That’s quite a leap.

No, not really. I work with people. I do more psychiatric work here [at Photo One] than I could ever do in an office.

What are some of the most interesting photos you’ve processed?

More than I could tell you in 15 minutes! One would be from a U.S. Forest Service agent who was working by Emerald Bay [in Lake Tahoe]. As he took a picture, lighting struck on a hillside about a mile away. … He wasn’t even sure he captured it until we processed the roll and looked at the photo. One of the goriest was the Galaxy airplane crash right down here on South Virginia Street.

I hear you’re quite the outdoorsman.

I’ve backpacked all of the Sierra. … The Marine Corp taught me how to ski. I’ve cross-country skied almost every peak in the Sierra. … My wife had an internship in White Pine County, so I’ve been lucky in that I’ve skied almost all of White Pine County.

I also hear you’ve got some great vegetarian recipes.

Well, we grow a lot of food in our back yard. … Some of the world’s best garlic is grown here. We’ve got garlic, onions, Italian tomatoes, table tomatoes, two kinds of potatoes, corn, cucumbers, carrots, hot and green peppers … We store it in the freezer for wintertime. We make these five- to six-cup bricks of tomatoes, and I make tomato sauce using a recipe from my 104-year-old grandmother that she brought from Italy when she was a little girl. [In the recipe], curry powder and olive oil are the only things we don’t grow in our back yard.