sculptor Emile Birch for New Hampshire Magazine

I have a great love of photographing artists at work, if only to observe their process, which is invariably unique. So when I received an assignment to photograph Emile Birch, who is one of New Hampshire's preeminent sculptors, I was grateful for the opportunity. His public monuments and work in schools had earned him a feature in New Hampshire Magazine exactly six years prior; this time, however, the circumstances were different. Emile had begun suffering from dementia, and this article would confront that issue directly.

Editor Rick Broussard sent me an advance copy of writer Karen Jamrog's article to help me prepare. Rick, creative director Chip Allen, and I decided the photography would require two stages: first, him working in his home studio; second, a portrait at one of his public sculptures. I would coordinate with his wife, Cynthia, whom he relies upon for appointments, transportation, et al.

The studio visit was scheduled first. I traveled west early on a Saturday morning, enjoyed brief introductions and a tour, and watched as he touched up some paint on a few of his new wooden pieces. (He's now limited to small-scale productions, which fill his studio.)

Although I knew another session for the portrait would occur, when I saw Emile step into the doorway to his studio towards the end of my time there, I couldn't help but ask him to pause while I made a series of photographs. As it happens, the magazine chose this portrait as the opening photograph (rather than the location one, as initially planned).

For the location portrait, we decided to use a lesser known work of his but one on prominent display in the capitol: The Eternal Shield, which was commissioned to memorialize the state's fallen firefighters. We met there a few weeks later around dusk to make the portraits. We lingered a bit (and enjoyed a coffee in a local shop) to allow darkness to fall in hopes that the statue's installed lighting (in the "flame") would illuminate; when that didn't happen, we said our goodbyes.

Karen's article about Emile, his legacy, and his current condition are well worth reading. I'm honored and grateful to illustrate a very small part of his life and work.

David Clayton, artist

I met David many years ago. We were introduced at a reception--and then again a few weeks later. Our social, academic, and artistic circles overlapped, and we became friends. He's a trained iconographer, and his most famous venture is a series (and blog and book) called The Way of Beauty.

These photographs were made in his (now former) studio and the chapel at Thomas More College, where he was artist-in-residence, in 2012.  We spent a good portion of an afternoon discussing his work, students, philosophy, and more. He's always working on multiple fronts as an artist (visually & musically), author, and educator, so conversations with him are always varied and engaging.

He now has a new project and lives on the other side of the continent, from where he taunts us New Englanders with photos of tremendous views while hiking (among other things).

Openings 2016, an artist residency - part II: the artists

In the first part, I wrote about the Openings artist residency on Lake George that I attended last summer. My primary goal for the week was to edit a long-term personal documentary project; making photographs was somewhat incidental (albeit quite necessary) to my stay.

I had known from the beginning that I wanted to create portraits during the week. A number of factors made this desire challenging, however.

First, besides common meals and an evening group discussion, each of us (18, I think) there was entirely self-directed regarding our schedules. Scattered throughout the campus grounds, everyone worked independently. Besides our own artistic work and goals, the area (both the grounds of St Mary’s on the Lake and the surrounding Lake George region) provided many opportunities for recreation: hiking, boating, swimming, and more. Finding someone—let alone at a point in which they were open to a brief sitting—would prove difficult.

Second, while most of the artists knew one another from previous Openings residencies or exhibitions, I came as a stranger. Of course, I’m often commissioned to photograph subjects I’ve just met; but in that case, the goal is mutually known. Here, I had developed friendships over a week via discussions, critiques, shared meals, daily liturgy, walks, and simply living in close proximity; to then ask them to be subjects… It wouldn’t seem to be difficult, and I should be far more comfortable than am I, but I’ve always lacked the boldness to simply do so.

Residents presented their week’s work on Thursday evening, which left Friday for a little work, cleaning, packing, farewells, and departures. The impending deadline—it was now or never to make the portraits—provided sufficient incentive to steel my courage. Similar to my approach in photographing the artists working, I didn’t need to photograph everyone: some weren’t interested, others left early, et al. I divided my day among finishing tasks, visiting, and being on a bit of a hunt. Of those who agreed, some were eager, and others had to be persuaded

The only artistic limit I placed upon myself was finding a different environment for each subject. Given the variety of locales on the campus, this was relatively simple. (Indeed, creating a series of portraits with such variety was a great pleasure.) In many cases, I simply photographed each wherever I found him or her.

Nick Farewell, playwright

I've been working as the photographer for theatre kapow since their inception. Now finishing their seventh season, they continue to produce increasingly challenging works of drama, not the least of which derives from complex narratives, stagings, and sets—which, in turn, always places new and interesting artistic demands on my photography.

This season's final production, Uma Vida Imaginária, is no exception. Based on the novel by Nick Farewell, this theatrical premiere employs a non-linear story and extensive on-stage video projection. Both cast and crew were thrilled that Nick was planning to attend the dress rehearsal and opening weekend. Traveling from Brazil on the day of the dress, he had been delayed significantly (increasing his total travel time to 16 hours), but arrived about 45 minutes before it started.

I had wanted to make his portrait, but I knew he was exhausted, so I was hesitant to ask. Fortunately, director Matt Cahoon, knowing my intention, took the initiative, and Nick agreed. I found a spot in the stairwell that had a small remnant of the day's light and then worked quickly, keeping our session to less than two minutes. The production began soon after. It opens tonight and is well worth your time.

Cristina Staltare, artist

Cristina Staltare, April 2014.
I discovered Cristina and her paintings through her senior thesis exhibition, Nature in Passing, at Saint Anselm College last year. Her small, intimate works invite the viewer to approach and linger in her landscapes.

Her paintings will be on display at Amoskeag Studio for the coming weeks, with the opening held on April 26 in conjunction with a performance by the Brad Myrick Quintet, celebrating the release of their album, Halogen.

Lauren Karjala, artist

Lauren Karjala, 2012.

I met Lauren a few years ago through her family (her father is a photographer). I was beginning to actively photograph artists in their studios, so I asked to visit her. At that time, she was living and working in the basement of her grandmother's condo, which had been transformed by her figure paintings, drawings, and sketches of all sizes.

Towards the end of our visit, I realized that, during our conversations, she had been sketching me. Before we parted, she wiped it away.

Lauren's senior exhibit opens at the University of New Hampshire's Museum of Art on Friday.

Carlo D'Anselmi, artist

While I was in NYC last month, I visited Carlo in his New York Studio School space to see some of his new paintings and drawings. His bold work is attracting attention: he had just finished a two-person show at the school. He and I (among others) will have work in the inaugural Alumni Exhibition at Saint Anselm College, which opens soon.

Carlo D'Anselmi, New York City, February 2014.

Toshihide Takekoshi, artist

Toshi and I met through our families years ago, when we were neighbors. Always kind and welcoming, he rarely speaks of his own work, but his home is filled with his paintings. During a family studio session, I was able to make a few solo portraits, despite his protests.

Amoskeag Studio is honored to host some of his work for the next month. A humbler artist you will never meet.

Toshihide Takekoshi, 2010.