First Friday Showcase – Lynne Feiss Necrason

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The Hostess © Lynne Feiss Necrason

Common Threads

Retirement often draws us into the arts. Painting, writing, photographing. It is a time for reflection. Reflection within one’s soul. Yet, is it a time to branch out beyond one’s comfort zone or a time to come back full circle to the familiar, to one’s childhood? With camera in hand, I seem instinctively drawn towards certain subjects and not others. Why? What are the common threads in these seemingly disparate subjects?

As a photographer, some subjects captivate me while others leave me uninterested. Why is that? What could possibly be the commonality between winter trees in fog, rain or snow and long exposure images of old piers in water? Add to that, why an immense emotional draw to the beautiful simple souls of old Romania? What could possibly be that common thread? Somewhere within the being and through the lens of a photographer lies an answer.

Reflecting back over a lifetime, I was an only child for my first nine years. We summered on my grandparents’ farm in a tiny northern New England hamlet with incredible view of the White Mountains. The rest of the summer we stayed on a small island on a remote lake in Maine. The people inhabiting the little cluster of old worn homes in New England had few conveniences – no central heat or running water, other than from a spring. In neither place was there indoor plumbing. Cooking was on an old wood stove. Life was a very basic, uncomplicated life. Yet, doors were always open and welcoming.  When not visiting the rural neighbors near the farm and when on the island, I was left on my own, alone, to absorb the peaceful, serene, stunning natural scenery everywhere.

As an adult, life took over.  Thirty-five years of relentless hours and energy to succeed financially on my own in a career demanding my time 24/7. Four kids to raise, some as a single mother. Eventually a second marriage expanding the family to thirty-one. Finally, retirement. Taking a deep breath. Rediscovering a childhood passion. Photography. Travel. Reflection. 

Six years into retirement, and suddenly, in the midst of grandparenting, travel, and photography comes a pandemic. Covid 19. Social distancing. Lots of time to reflect. Time to curate images from a large collection of photographs. Time to dig out that common thread from a seemingly disparate group of images including bare winter trees in snow, fog over the lake and its peninsulas, old piers and boats floating in water on a quiet lagoon and beautiful, simple people in an old remote eastern European village. What possibly knit these images together?

Romania. There, in this nearly untouched part of our world, was a sense of calm, of contentment amidst the bare minimum amenities of life, of joy at meeting strangers and welcoming them into a simply furnished, two room home. Life felt real, uncomplicated, unadorned. It was minimal.  Even the light entering the one window was minimal. Simple, natural light to portray the real character of the compelling faces of these rural Romanian men and women. A simple scarf over the head, no makeup, and an apron to protect a dress that can’t be regularly washed. I was mesmerized. Yes, they have led hard lives by our standards yet, somehow, they seemed more at peace, more alive, more open than so many buried in lives of luxury. Life was slow. We were enveloped in peace and serenity emanating from these simple souls.

Greece. On the surface, it seemed as though my excitement of finding a single dead tree buried up to its branches in water had nothing to do with my newly found passion of shooting portraits of the rural elderly in minimal surroundings and light. I gazed out over a large quiet lagoon with nothing but remnants of an old pier – just rotting posts sticking up out of the water. But they called to me. I saw smooth water and simple posts. I set my camera to make an image with a very long exposure. As I clicked the shutter, a bird landed on a pier for a brief moment and then took off, resulting in a very ethereal ghost like image. Simple. Peaceful. Restful.

Therein lay a thread of what impels my photography – nostalgia for the less complicated, quieter early years – the real, the simple, the unadorned bringing peace to my soul. Instinctively, my images reflect that. Through photography, I return to the essence and comfort of a childhood – the genuineness and warmth of a people unfettered by an abundance of possessions, the beauty of just an old, abandoned wood pier surrounded by still water on a remote lake. Minimally mesmerizing. Simply serene.

Lynne Feiss Necrason

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Phantom Bird
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Fishing Nets at Rest
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All photographs © 2020 Lynne Feiss Necrason. All Rights Reserved.

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Lynne Feiss Necrason

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