Gildemeister began his forestry career working two summer seasons on the Sandpoint District of the Kaniksu National Forest in Northern Idaho, with one season spent on the Bald Eagle Lookout. After graduating from Michigan State in 1955, he again traveled westward to his first permanent job on the La Grande District of the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest, though this was interrupted in 1957 when he was drafted into the US Army where he joined the 82nd Airborne, jumping for a year before transferring to the 3rd Army Special Services as a clown juggler. In 1959 he returned to the Wallow-Whitman with a forest manager position on the Union Ranger District where he continued his forestry career until 1972. During this period he also started a photographic career which led to creating a photo archive of historic photos along with his own creations, which includes a fairly extensive collection of fire fighting images taken during and after his Forest Service employment. In 1972, he quit the Forest Service and devoted his time to creating a photographic-design business to serve clients in the Pacific Northwest and across the Nation. In 2019, the Confederated Tribe of the Umatilla Indian Reservation acquired his photo archives which consisted of 50,000+ film images; though he and his wife, Cathy, retained all rights of usage during their lifetime. In this year of 2020 they are still actively engaged in their photographic, design, and book publishing business. The Smoke Jumper images on this website showcases a small portion of his photo imagery archive.
A preview of their extensive photo archive can be viewed at www.gildemeister-usa.com.