For Pat Beary, every sight is a potential photograph. Whether it’s a cemetery, a tree or a bundle of paper, all of life is art behind her camera lens.
The Westbury resident has won first place in the small works division in a photo competition at Soho Photo Gallery and had two solo exhibits at FotoFoto in Huntington. Her photos have also been exhibited at The Art League of Long Island, Garrison Arts Center and next month, she’ll also have one featured in the Municipal Heritage Museum in Spain as part of The Third International Biennial of Fine Art and Documentary Photography exhibit.
Beary’s a full time art teacher at Wantagh High School and got her start in photography about 10 years ago when she stepped in for the retiring photo teacher.
“I jumped in with both feet and it really sparked my own work,” says Beary. “I found out that this is a way I really like to express myself.”
She started taking her own classes and creating a network of photographers in Long Island including at FotoFoto, a cooperative gallery. The support system at the gallery taught her more about equipment, techniques and establishing a body of work that conveyed a message.
“We are just inundated with photography. Everyone considers themselves a photographer because they can take a picture. To be an artist who uses photography embraces a lot more than that,” says Beary. “The difference is an ongoing body of work that you work towards.”
The subjects of Beary’s photographs range from people, nature and minute details. Two of her series focus on trips she took to Italy and the life of people there.
“Culturally and visually it’s such a different place than the United States. I love taking the time to be in a place and seeing what’s there. When you’re soaking it in and not just eager to see the highlights, that’s when the best pictures come,” she says. “It’s about the other moments. What are the ordinary people doing? What is their life like?”
She works in the Adobe program Lightroom, but tries to keep editing to a minimum.
“The concept happens in the camera. I don’t like to over edit. I like to use editing to enhance the message, not because it’s a cool technique,” says Beary. “It all starts when you’re shooting and in the camera. You have an idea of what you want to say and when you see it after, you edit it to really refine it.”
She says the increase in accessibility to photography and cameras is exciting, but notes the difference between people who do it casually and as an art. As opposed to the casual photographer who focuses on recording life events, she describes her work as fine art.
“I use photography with the intent of creating something that maybe the ordinary person may not be able to create,” says Beary. “What people do with photos on Facebook and Instagram is try to document something. Which is still great, because as people gain comfort they may be pushed to explore the medium further.”
Find out more and see Beary’s work at www.patriciabeary.com