The 3 a.m. alarm goes off—a welcome sound for the seasoned landscape and wildlife photographer. The stars are still twinkling overhead as Hal Prewitt packs his camera bag and heads off to Deer Creek Reservoir. With his tripod in place by 5 a.m., it’s simply a waiting game for the light. Prewitt is here to capture an illuminated Mt. Timpanogos, an image he thinks is sure to knock the socks off his gallery patrons.
A few weeks later the stunning sunrise photo is part of the digital slide show at Prewitt’s Main Street art space, Prewitt Gallery (570 Main St, 435.200.5810). The walls here are hung with landscape and wildlife images from decades of travel; the constantly running slide show features works in progress, like the shots of Mt. Timpanogos Prewitt bagged before most of us had had our first cup of coffee.
Aside from shutter clicking, most of Prewitt’s days are filled with teleconference meetings for his Florida-based Prewitt Enterprises—through which he invests in real estate, agriculture, and technology—and client meetings at his Park City photography gallery. But his daily schedule is a mere hint at this man’s myriad interests, accomplishments, and accolades.
Prewitt began cultivating his entrepreneurial spirit and outstanding work ethic as a teenager in Florida. At 13 he built his first computer and at 15 sold his first painting (which he dabbles in, too) and launched his first business, renting out his parents’ houseboat.
At 21, Prewitt made his mark in the world of technology by designing, writing, and selling a series of computer programs for the IBM 5100 and System/32 computers, a breakthrough that led to him earning his first million by age 25.
Venture up to Prewitt Gallery’s second floor where, along with more of Prewitt’s photography, you’ll find a mini-museum made up of sports trophies and memorabilia and historic computer hardware. The tech items there include many “world’s firsts” that Prewitt and his team built and designed, including technology Prewitt says remains critical to the PC industry today: a 32-bit disk controller and a small form factor disk array (used as a safe storage device for computers that delivers increased capacity, higher performance, and better reliability). Also on display is the prototype of the world’s first LAN (local area network) card, which connected small IBM business computers to one another to share programs and data. Also on display here is the computer that, according to Prewitt, launched the personal computing industry. “You can’t find this stuff in the Smithsonian—only here,” Prewitt says. “To put it in perspective, this stuff dates back to 1974, before Microsoft or Apple,” Prewitt continues. Also noteworthy while mentioning Prewitt’s accomplishments is his development of the world’s first multitray hot-mount storage unit. These devices were designed and built in the years leading up to and during Prewitt’s launch of Core International, a tech firm he led until selling it to Sony in 1993.
Prewitt entered race car driving in the mid-2000s, although he participated in amateur races as a teenager. He continues to compete in select sprint and endurance road races and has driven in more than 200 events in his career. Last year was his most successful behind the wheel: he beat out more than 800 competitors from 57 countries to finish as the No. 1 American driver and No. 4 overall finisher at the International Endurance Series Championships. “I love endurance racing because it requires me to take in thousands of bits of information at a time and make split-second decisions with immediate and long-term effects,” Prewitt says.
Until recently, Prewitt was a part-time Park City resident, living in a home he purchased from Mitt Romney in 2009. Now, he says, the newly opened gallery is his priority, and he’s sticking around the mountain town much more to ensure its success.
“I have so many wonderful images from my lifetime that I had to either open a gallery or stop taking photos,” Prewitt jokes.
The savvy pioneer is using technology to innovate in his gallery as well. In the coming months, each image in Prewitt Gallery will be accompanied by a QR code. Patrons can scan the codes with their phones to access information about how and where the photograph was taken.
During Prewitt Gallery’s first winter season—beginning December 2015—it sold more than $250,000 in imagery, due largely to Prewitt’s unconventional business model. “We believe that art is for everyone, and we try to cover all price points,” he says. You’ll find large fine-art prints selling for up to $100,000 to images priced at under $30, despite advice Prewitt received from several prominent photographer friends. “Most of the things I’ve done in my life, I didn’t do for the money,” he affirms. “My focus was simply on being successful at whatever I did. Money follows success; success doesn’t follow money.”