Tuesday, May 17, 2005

An Interview with New London Photographer Bruce J. Parsons

New London's Bruce J. Parsons is a photographer, author, award-winning architectural designer, Boy Scout leader, former Pelican reporter, husband, father, and a confirmed island enthusiast. Since 1974 he has been visiting Star island faithfully each year; working on the historic buildings, rising early, staying up late, using a designer’s eye to capture his unique view of this unparalleled “rock in the middle of the ocean.” His time on the island has guided his growth as an artist and as a person.

How long has this book been in the making?

For years I have been printing, exhibiting and selling my photographs as art. About 10 years ago I decided to begin to put together a comprehensive collection of my photographs chronicling my thirty years on Star Island. This book is the culmination of that work with new prints and shows coinciding with its publication.

How does this particular patch of earth cast its spell over you?

Star and the Shoals are a magical place, time has in many ways stood still on the islands for hundreds of years. I saw this the first time I stepped on the island in 1974 and it still has the same effect on me today. During the years I worked there and my significant involvement to this day this is the place we so fondly call “my spirit’s home”. My Corporation, committee and Board involvement has allowed me wonderful year round access to the Shoals, something I am very lucky to experience as most people see it for at most only one week per year. The change of the seasons as well as the population makes Star a constantly changing environment. Add to this the ever changing weather and you are on a rock in the middle of the ocean with opportunities and experiences that so many never see.

What were the difficulties in capturing these images?

There is no constant with this type of light, it changes quickly and I need to react quickly. Five minutes can make a huge difference. Many of my images are not created by total chance; they are created in my mind prior to shooting them and then waiting for the right moment in time to create them. The Island is small therefore I am never too far from my camera so when the moment looks like it is near I can get set up. I have been fortunate to have done a great deal of construction/renovation carpentry on the island. This has allowed me access to vantage points like in the Chapel bell tower that few have.

There are more than 70 images in Star Light. How many did you start with and was the editing process difficult?

I started with thousands of images and was very critical of what I selected. There were times when I was too close to it all so I relied on others I trusted to help out and get to the final number.

Did you prefer a certain time of day to shoot? Or were you going for all sorts of light?

I like to shoot in unique light situations like low light, storms, early and late daylight.

What is your background and have you ever published a photo book before?

This is my first book. I went to Portland School of Art, now Maine College of Art, and graduated from Colby-Sawyer College with a bachelor’s degree in Art. My degree focus was on photography, ceramics and painting.

I shot all of these images with either a Mamiya or Olympus 35 mm camera. I prefer to use a single focal length lens and most of these images were shot with a 21 mm lens using slow transparency film either Kodachrome 64 or Fugi Velvia 50. My style is to shoot landscapes void of people but yet full of the influence of humans and nature in a fine balance.

What photographers/artists/others have influenced the way you take pictures?

I have been most greatly influenced by Ansel Adams, Edward Weston and Elliot Porter as photographers and Claude Monet and the impressionist painting movement.

If you had to describe in one sentence the feeling you were hoping to capture in the images what would it be?

The opportunity to show others how wonderful Star is and do it in an artistic fashion that not only gives out facts but also does it in a way that draws emotions.

How will you know that the book has met your hopes and expectations?

My hopes and expectations will be met by the reaction of people who see it and hopefully find great enjoyment. They will also be a motivating factor when I get to work on my next book.

Star Island Book

Media inquiries to: Deidre Randall, Blueline Publicity, Peter E. Randall Publisher LLC.

Email: deidre@perpublisher.com, Phone: 603-431-5667, 603-431-3566 (fax)

Mail to; Blueline Publicity / Peter E. Randall Publisher, PO Box 4726, Portsmouth, NH 03802

Web sites: www.perpublisher.com - www.deidrerandall.com

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