LACONIA — Those who have not yet seen the photo project "Faces of Laconia" will have the opportunity to learn all about it when photographer Alan MacRae gives a slide presentation the Belknap Mill on Tuesday, Jan. 21. The ongoing project so far includes the portraits of 19 people and MacRae hopes to pull the photos together into a published volume when has 25.
"I thought of people who have made a significant contribution to Laconia," said MacRae, "but the project grew a little bit to include people outside Laconia — some of the unsung heroes."
The idea of making a photographic record of local people of significance grew out of MacRae's exposure to the work of Maryland photographer David Hobby.
"There are a handful of photographers whose work I have a great deal of respect for," MacRae said, explaining that he had attended a seminar in Rhode Island in which Hobby described his web-based photography project, HoCo360, "a visual journal of Howard County, Maryland".
"Seeing some of his work, I thought it would be fun for the Lakes Region," said MacRae. However, the idea would incubate for several years before he discussed it with Brenda Kean of the Laconia Historical and Museum Society, who thought it was a great concept and offered her assistance in reaching out to people and setting up appointments.
Kean and MacRae went together to interview the subjects, MacRae taking photos as they talked. "The interviews brought depth and a whole new dimension to the project," he said. "After the first photo session, I really realized how powerful and engaging that was. Catching the essence of the person was what I set out to do, and the conversation produced the rapport to do that."
As much as possible, MacRae and Kean interviewed people at their own homes or place of work, where they would be most comfortable, allowing MacRae to get more telling shots. He says that, when he is taking a photo, he wants people to think about the subject in the image, not the photographer behind the lens.
"I attended a seminar in New York where Gregory Heisler spoke," MacRae recalled, "and he talked about just that."
Explaining that the choice of people to include in the project tends to be a subjective decision, MacRae said, "Every conversation I had validated the reason I chose them to be included."
Nevertheless, MacRae was apprehensive about the project, wondering if the public would agree with his choices and "have the same warm and fuzzy feeling I have." However, when he gave a presentation at the Laconia Public Library, he was pleased by the response.
The "Faces of Laconia" portraits, which will be on display at the Belknap Mill through January, include Esther Peters, Paul Normandin, Betty Trask, Warren Bailey, Chris Adams, Gary Bloom, Mary Orton, Warren Huse, Bob Fortier, Sam Aldridge, Doug Whittum, John Bancroft, Merrill Fay, Penny Pitou, Warren Clement, Ann Dearborn Kaligian, Bud Martin, Larry Frates, and Peter Karagianis.