By Sara Walters  

For Phil S. Addis, all it took was one photography class in college. He was hooked. “I fell in love with it,” said Addis. He learned to develop film, set his camera and frame his shot. But one of the most important components of successful photography was already ingrained in him—telling a story. “The fact is that anyone can point and shoot. But what are you conveying? I am a storyteller. Pictures can’t speak, so the visual needs to support that.”

Now semi-retired, Addis has returned to his passion of telling the stories of the La Crosse area through photography. “We have such beautiful landscape in the Coulee Region. It’s so easy to just drive from point A to B and completely ignore what beauty God has provided in our area,” he said. “I do like landscapes. It’s quiet and relaxing, almost therapeutic, to be with nature and its sounds. Landscape allows you the time to take pictures. From the golden hour of sunrise to the golden hour of sunset. Your light becomes the backdrop. You become the artist and the landscape becomes your canvas.”

Phil Addis La CrosseWhen he’s not shooting the Mississippi River, one of his favorite subjects, Addis has enjoyed taking photos of trains, particularly those he was able to capture at the Mid-Continent Railway Museum in New Freedom, Wisconsin.

He also likes the thrill of shooting wildlife up close with a high-millimeter lens, though these prove to be the trickiest to capture. “They are unpredictable and you may take 25 shots and keep one. And sometimes, none. If you set your camera settings prior to capturing a photo, that really can help you out as well,” he explained. 

Addis has a La Crosse County-themed exhibit on display now at the La Crosse County Administrative Center in downtown La Crosse. Various photos depict the bluffs, the rivers, the fields and the cities that make up the Coulee Region. “It is impossible to capture everything, but I am hoping that if one picture is appreciated, that I have done my job,” said Addis. “It’s funny, because I talk with people all over the world and so many people talk about wanting to see the Mississippi River. We have so much to appreciate right here in our own backyard, you just need to open your eyes. I hope my exhibit does just that.”

Ever the student of his craft, Addis hasn’t stopped at just traditional landscape photography. He’s recently begun using a lens ball to add dimension to his photos. He’s also experimenting with black and white tone and textures. Addis likes the variety it brings to his work and also the conversation it often sparks. “It contributes when people really start talking about your technique,” said Addis. 

As he continues to try new techniques, Addis also stays true to the beautiful landscape photos he has become known for taking. His works have graced the pages of local publications and will be available at various local events in 2019, including the Art Dash at the Waterfront’s Cargill Room on March 28. He also has a new exhibit during March at Gallery on the Lake in Lake City, Minnesota. “I have more exhibits in the works with a few communities in the area and I will continue to donate my time taking photos for the La Crosse County Historical Society, Mississippi Valley Conservancy, and U.S. Fish & Wildlife,” he added.

For more information or to see more photos by Phil S. Addis, visit or