A surprise birthday exhibition: 5 Questions with local photographer, physician

Jessica Fuller • Dec 31, 2018 at 12:00 AM

Local physician and photographer Brent Welch was expecting dinner with his family when they took him to Dos Gatos Coffee Bar last weekend for his birthday. 

When they arrived at the coffee shop, Welch was greeted with his own photography work, framed and hanging in the shop in a surprise birthday exhibition organized by his family. 

“For years, my dad’s photography has really only been shown to family and friends, and we wanted to find a way to share with everyone his keen eye for capturing beauty,” Welch said. 

The exhibition will be on display at Dos Gatos in downtown Johnson City for the rest of the month. 

Fast Facts
Occupation, how long you've been a photographer: I am a gastroenterologist but have also been taking pictures since my college days, about 40 years.
Tea or coffee: Coffee, and coincidentally, the coffee at Dos Gatos is wonderful.
What was your first camera? My dad's 1960s-era Kodak 35mm camera
Favorite way to spend a Saturday: Either in Neyland Stadium cheering on the Tennessee Volunteers or on Watauga Lake in my boat.
Favorite historic figure: Andrew Jackson and later, Howard Baker, both are Tennesseans who represented our state well and played important roles in American history.


Q. How did you get into photography? Are you self-taught, was there a photographer you admired before you got into it? 

A. As a boy, my family traveled throughout the U.S. and I always enjoyed the photographs my dad made during our travels and the memories of those trips recorded in those pictures. Later, I admired the photography of Sen. Howard Baker who was as great a photographer as he was a senator.

Q. What draws your eye when you're taking photographs?

A. I love the natural beauty all around us. I think if we just take the time to notice, there are beautiful scenes surrounding us almost every day.

Q. What is rewarding about photography to you?

A. I love to be able to capture beautiful scenes and special moments and in turn, record wonderful memories that others can then enjoy for many years in the future.

Q. Do you try to challenge yourself as a photographer? If so, how do you seek new challenges?

A. I recently decided to begin photographing waterfalls and of course, there are many beautiful waterfalls within a day's drive of Johnson City. As a former Boy Scout, I also enjoy hiking and being out in nature. Photographing waterfalls combines two of my favorite activities.

Q. How did you find out about it? Were you clueless until the exhibition, and how did you feel when you found out about it?

A. I was totally surprised and had no idea about any of it. Travis had searched through over 8,000 photographs that I had taken in the past four years and selected around 40 of them to consider for display. With the help of the rest of my family, they selected 15 of their favorites for the exhibition. Dick Nelson then kindly assisted with the matting, framing and arranging the display at Dos Gatos Coffee Shop in downtown Johnson City. When we walked into Dos Gatos last Sunday evening, I thought I was meeting my family for dinner. Instead, I was greeted by many of my dearest friends along with my entire family making it a wonderful surprise party that I will always cherish. I feel blessed beyond measure.

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