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the Portrait Poem | Portsmouth NH

On a recent trip Back East, I was able to stop in for a visit with a friend and mentor of mine, from many a year ago. I was in my early Twenties trying to figure out exactly or at least partially or at least a clue as to what I was doing here on the planet and had found the camera to help me sort this out. I was finding my way dot by dot. Had landed some freelance shooting at a local newspaper on the southern Maine coast and that coupled with regular hours at the One Hour Photo shop was helping me sort of make money. I got on the phone and called about to photographers around the area and Carl Austin Hyatt was one of them. He invited me down. I was quickly taken with the sheer elegance of his work and with him as an artist first, photographer second – which was inherently apparent. Later he would relay that he agreed to our meeting as he could tell by my inquiries that I was asking ‘the right’ questions; he saw I was looking for the underneath in it all. For meaning. Was sincere in my vulnerable pursuit. Or that’s my summation. Hope I got that right, Carl!

He is a large format platinum printing artist. Have you ever printed platinum? Patience. Patience. Patience. I’ll use the word Patience. And Stunning. Tactile. Exquisite. Expensive.

I hung around, he brought me along on some of his commercial shoots (which he did to pay for living) and paid me. I say brought me along because I’m pretty sure I offered not much at that stage; I could put a light on a stand. But in all this there was an understanding a recognition OF me that he reflected TO me – an artist in the making, seeking depth, soul.

One of the things I most associate with him is the book ‘The Art Spirit’ by Robert Henri which he gifted me. It was one of the first books, second to ‘The Wisdom of Insecurity’, Alan Watts – which I also discovered in those years- that spoke to this raw wild space in me.

So, it was fortunate that our schedules were able to overlap a bit on my one afternoon enroute from Maine back to Boston. He was delayed himself in a meeting so I had to await his return. This gave me the opportunity to roam again the beautiful town of Portsmouth and visit my old haunts – bakeries/coffee shops. By the time we connected it was early evening. It was great to be back in his studio – a place that intrinsically feels rich. And the light. As we sat and caught ourselves up a bit, the western sun began to stream in. I could not help but ask if he was willing to be photographed.

To be seen and then gifted that reflection, most especially when searching about, is one of the most valuable gifts one can receive.

Related here to all of this….I was in fact back in this part of the country to celebrate a friend’s life, an amazing big soul, who left this earth far too young. He was a friend from college (Ohio) but was from New England so we were hanging out in these years, and more often than not, bouncing the meaning of it all off one another. He would tell me, “Mary Grace, I get it. I ponder all these things too. But I have come to this: There is no answer. Seek it lovingly.” And he did. And so too I will continue to give it my all, ‘my best shot’. Paradox. No tidy little boxes for the analytical (my) mind to stack up. Just to be. In all of oneself.

 

 

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the Portrait Poem – Seattle WA

When I first came to Seattle – now three months shy of half my life ago, 26 years, I was quick to act in an effort to find my way with my camera. In the previous few years, I had managed to photograph the President of the US with entourage and Pet of the Week, both on a fairly regular basis – meaning quite the range, as a newspaper photographer. I was driven, but there was serendipity/kismet too that granted me these experiences. And now I was across the country wanting to create a new ground. I was fortunate to have parents who supported my explorations/calling in so far as I could make it work  – i.e. I was morally but not financially trust funded. I knew I needed to figure this thing out. Within the first two weeks of flying in, generously hosted by my brother and his wife – longer I’m sure than they ever intended and in a small though beautiful lookout apartment, I found the photographer, whom it would turn out would show me the way to keep my financial feet on the ground as I followed my heart. And he was a half mile from my brother’s apartment. This locale, after I had lived in Rockville Maryland assisting a photographer in Arlington Va, dropping and picking up film in Georgetown to and fro, was unheard of. And too, the most amazing black and white lab, Panda Lab, was only miles away. I was beyond taken with this new arrangement and the possibilities I foresaw. I could not believe it. And so I ate it up – all I could take in from Mel Curtis. I learned much about the business side keeping all things infrastructure in creation as I pursued my heart and craft. I assisted him around town and around the country. I took whatever jobs he did not want. I called and ran quotes by him. Also drank quite a bit of wine. Dial in 20 years later, last month I went to his beautific home, afforded by years of dedication to his craft, drank coffee (more coffee than wine for this one these days) and we passed the camera taking each other’s portrait, as we had done many times over the years. Grateful, Mel Curtis, for helping me figure this art life out. And, yep, bandaid stays. My photojournalist roots stand.

 

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Mary Grace Long - Well expressed Walter. And thank you too!

Walter Hodges - Well done. The man is the real deal. Always was. Good on both of you.

Farm Tour – Ojeda Farms

Photographing with Seattle Wholesale Growers Market the last few years has been nothing shy of pure beauty, across the board. For the obvious reason: fresh cut flowers straight from farm to market. But even more so the people, the farmers and those who run the market and those affiliated with it in one way or another – in particular Debra Prinzing of Slow Flowers.  A privilege for me. This particular shoot at Ojeda Farms, run by Gonzalo Ojeda and his family. Peonies were in the making just about to bloom.

 

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Mary Grace Long - Thank you Meryl! This is Much coming from you! I appreciate. Mary Grace

Meryl Schenker - I have always loved your photography work and I enjoy seeing more of it! Amazing!

Mary Grace Long - This means so very much to me Debra. Thank You!

Debra Prinzing - Mary Grace, simply blissful! Love the portraits of all, especially of Gonzalo with the bucket of flowers. You are showing the people, the flowers, AND the HEART of this community!!!