When artist turned photographer Ray Lamoureux showed his Portraits of New England exhibit last fall, attendees were more than enamored – and for a good reason. The collection of farmlands, seascapes, landscapes, solitary objects, and vacant spaces, shot from Connecticut to Maine, beautifully convey the warm, mysterious aura of New England. Now, as the Arts Council’s 2015 Featured Artist, Ray’s photographs are back at 100 Pearl Street Gallery with some newer additions (many of which are for sale!). Check out the exhibit going on through May 11 and read on to learn more about Ray’s artistic process.
- How did you get started as a photographer? What drove you to pursue art?
I have always had an interest in art ever since I was a child, from grade school to high school and into art school, I always had a need to be creative and art was my platform…and at that time it was primarily drawing and painting.
My interest in photography came much later in life because it was a form of creative expression that was much more fitted to my lifestyle. It became increasingly more difficult for me to carve out time to paint as I was progressing in my career and traveling more frequently. So I decided to explore photography and what initially started out as an interest soon blossomed into a passion. I quickly discovered that photography was the perfect art form for me as it allowed me to create artwork that infused my newly learned skillset behind the lens with a heavy influence of my background in painting.
- What’s the best part about living in New England as a photographer?
There are so many great things about living in New England but as a photographer the two most amazing things to me are the incredible variety of subject matter all in such close proximity and the uniqueness of our seasons.
On any given day within a few hours of my home I could be shooting classic sweeping seascapes along the New England shoreline, cityscapes and architecture of historic seaports like Newport, Mystic, Boston, Portsmouth and Portland, or the rugged and rocky seascapes of Maine, not to mention the countless number of lighthouses and islands that dot the New England shore. In the other direction you have all the nooks and crannies of rural New England, with amazing back roads that wind their way through small New England hamlets, into the rolling hills and across the expansive farmlands of CT, MA and VT. Now take all of this and couple it with the changing environments of our four seasons and you have a never ending supply of photo opportunities.
Your photography focuses a lot on seasons and landscapes. What season do you love shooting the most?
Without a doubt I absolutely love the Fall…and not just for the foliage. The foliage is certainly beautiful and distinct here in New England but there is something about the Autumn light that just creates such amazing atmosphere.
The warm sunlight, earthy tones, long shadows and dramatic skies make New England Fall the optimal setting for landscape photographers.
- How do you want your audience to feel when viewing your art?
The goal of my photography it to capture the essence of a moment and to bring people into that exact moment through a single image. So for someone to see one of my images and to feel what I felt when I was shooting it, as if they were there with me, is ultimately what I aspire to achieve…to feel the cold chill of an abandoned farmhouse, or the warm glow of the Autumn sun breaking through the clouds, or the frozen isolation of a solitary tree in the snow, simply by seeing an image is everything to me.
- What themes do you explore through your photographs?
Most of my work is very thematic, either by location or subject matter. This is most prevalent on my website where you’ll find several location-themed galleries like New England, Block Island, Bar Harbor, New York City and Italy as well as some subject-themed galleries like Lighthouses, Windows, etc. However, what I enjoy most and will continue to focus on are the location-themed series as I get to combine my love of travel with my love for photography. My goal for this year is to do a series on The Hamptons this summer, Boston and Vermont in the Fall and at some point would love to get back to New York City for a series of black and whites.
- What advice would you give to aspiring photographers?
This one is tough but I will try to focus on a few specific areas that helped me in my evolution as a photographer. One is know your camera and how to use it. Anyone can take a good snapshot but not everyone can take great photographs. Be a technician behind the lens and know how your settings will impact your final image. Two, have a vision, before you start shooting have an idea of what you want to create and convey in your work. This will provide direction to your work and sharpen your focus (no pun intended) on your subject matter, composition, lighting, etc. Lastly, experiment and never stop learning. Shoot as many photos as you possibly can, try new angles, different composition, different settings, different focal points and lengths. The more you shoot, the more you will learn and the more your style will eventually evolve.
- What is your favorite piece from your current show and why?
My favorite piece in this show would have to be “Warming the Harvest” which I love because it exemplifies the simple beauty of the New England Fall. It’s just a warm, inviting and peaceful image of an Autumn sunset with the rays of the sun breaking through the clouds casting light over a quiet cornfield. As I mentioned earlier, there are few things more beautiful than the atmosphere created by Autumn lighting. Now, the other reason I love this photo is because it was taken while on a drive with my family. I literally pulled over on the side of the road and set up the shot while my parents and three sons (ages 3, 5 and 6) waited in the car for me. It wasn’t the first time I fielded “Daaaad, what are you doing?” questions while shooting a photo and it certainly won’t be the last. It’s a great feeling though looking at this photograph today, with them, knowing they were there with me.
Support the arts! With a $500 donation to the Greater Hartford Arts Council, you can get a limited edition print by Ray Lamoureux, a Let’s Go Arts! Card, and much more. Every contribution goes a long way and helps make an impact in our community.