Thursday, April 6, 2017

From the lens of a photographer

From the lens of a photographer

     My photographer friends have the gift of seeing the unique in the ordinariness of life.  Their lenses point in altogether different angles than anyone else.
     Once upon a time a photographer gave me a bit of advice. Observe the scene you are thinking about shooting and walk to a contrastive spot. Now judge what’s in your viewfinder. Life goes like that, too.
     Photographers develop a good eye with practice, along with owning up to a tremendous bit of patience waiting for the perfect shot.  There is a bit of luck invested in a picture, too. Being in the right place and at the exact time of day is all part of the game plan.
     Any visual or literary artist will remind you that his best work is still to come out. It’s that never failing hope, which is ever so vital that keeps the creative juices flowing and not ebbing away.


     In the winter Dansville ArtWorks, 178 Main Street, displayed a juried exhibition of regional photography judged by longtime Rochester Institute of Technology Professor and Chair of Fine Art Photography Willie Osterman, and the results were works of very high quality in my opinion. Watch for an announcement of the third annual photography contest next winter.      
     Hollie Hill from Wayland won third place for a delightful, whimsical piece of a family having fun together. It lifted all our somber moods leftover from the post election season. One needs to smile, and Hollie surely did when her prize was announced.  Incidentally, she was a high school art student of my husband, and he stood by beaming, too.


     Another veteran Livingston County photographer, Larry Tetamore, entered a photo of a waterfall scene. He does beautiful work featuring Letchworth Park, and frequently, he shoots off into the sunsets from his new property in Avon. He told me that he took a risk and entered this particular show because of the reputation of Osterman, an expert in his field. He didn’t think he stood a chance.
      There’s a lesson in that statement from Larry to emerging photographers. Take the chance. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. I am sure Larry would agree with me. You plod along, and eventually, you might get it right.


     I watch for Bob Oswald’s daily nature updates on Facebook from Upstate, Florida, or somewhere on his route coming and going. His eye for the finest detail in wildlife is incredible. You wonder how he ever gets to his end destination.  Or does his wandering spirit ever make him late for dinner? Thank goodness he takes the time to observe nature with the upmost passion. He has a big audience.


     John Adamski, a fellow columnist here at the Livingston County News, also tells stories in his photography. Recently, his eagle nesting series in our area fascinates me. He shares his knowledge readily, too, and since high school biology was a long, long time ago, it is helpful to be updated by an expert. There is more to learn.


     Personally, I don’t know Dick Thomas –we’re not related – however, his scenes make living in our region something to shout about to the rest of the world. More often than not, I will recognize a barn or so, and it makes the photo more memorable. Simple, unadorned photography is often best.


     I could go on and on naming photographers, and lest I leave someone out, I should stop now.
     There is one other story that I have to relate here about a photographer making special out of every day life.
      Last summer I had the good fortune of hiring Beth Doty, Beth Doty Designs, to do a photo shoot to update my professional work. It was time. Actually, I had been watching her work for quite awhile, and I love how she plays with children’s poses. Each seems natural, and I wanted my images to say something about who I am to the world as far as my personality. There’s more than just a face. 
     Beth and I agreed to meet at the village park in Geneseo where there is a stately stone veterans’ monument, an excellent backdrop as the sun is setting over the valley. She had something in mind for me, and I let her call the shots.
     We started talking and she asked me questions about what writing projects I had in the works. I found it curious that she never knew that I had spent my career as an elementary teacher. Since I have been out of the classroom for so long now, apparently I have become redefined as a writer without realizing it. We talked of my family and hers, and how her son would be entering his senior year with its bittersweet moments.
     “I’ve got it. I’ll send you the proofs in the morning.” Just like that, it was over. My assumption that it would be painstaking and time consuming fell by the wayside.
      All the while she had been shooting away, and ignorant me thought she was testing for the right exposures. She had put me at ease without me having a clue. The entire session took fifteen minutes.
     The result is a new photo for my column, AND ONE MORE THING… Thanks, Beth.