Written by Kate Piacentini Friday, 02 July 2010 00:00
On June 17, the Port Washington Public Library honored Martin Vogel, as he presented his photo legacy project. Marty has been a strong supporter of the library for many years, and the room was filled with people who were excited to see this project, which showcased his photography over almost 50 years.
Library Director Nancy Curtin said she was happy to sing the praises of Martin Vogel and recognize his tremendous contributions to library programming over the years. “When we decided we were going to do this, I thought, I wonder if I have enough chairs for people to honor Marty, because I know that he is loved by all, as you can see,” she said, to a full audience. She noted that Marty founded the Port Washington Camera Club with the library’s former media director 35 years ago, and the club was renamed the Photography Club of Long Island later on. More than 600 photographers have been members over the years, she said, and the club had over 200 guest speakers, critique judges, and members learning nights. “It was a very special time for the library – a burst of creativity that symbolized the library’s passion for the arts,” she said. Marty also founded the investor’s club and the genealogy seminar, and Nancy Curtin said that he currently leads a book discussion group.
Head of Adult Services Lee Fertitta also spoke about Marty, since he is an original member of one of her book discussion groups. She said, “If each picture is worth 1,000 words, then Marty has written several books.” She also described one project he did, in which he photographed everyone who worked at the library. He called the library staff “the crown jewels of Port Washington.” Ms. Fertitta said to Marty, “If we are the crown jewels, then you are the crown prince.”
Beverly Halm, representing the Friends of the Library, said that she is a friend of Marty, and also honored for him for being a big supporter of the library. She noted that the Port Washington Public Library is one of the top 85 libraries in the whole country, and supporters like Marty make it that way. She also said that he always encourages people in the community to vote yes on the library budget each year.
Marty got the idea for the photo legacy project from his son, Andrew, who said that all of his images should be made into a video. Andrew spoke at this event about his dad, and said that when his dad gets involved with something, he grabs on with both hands and does not let go. He noted that his dad has many hobbies, but that he is proudest of his dad for his photography. “Thank you for a life well framed and perfectly exposed,” he said.
Several of Marty’s friends who had been members of the photography club also spoke of Marty’s work. One friend said that Marty does the opposite of a photographer, in that photographers focus on negatives in a dark room, while Marty lights up the room with his smile and always focuses on positives.
At the beginning of Marty’s Photo Legacy Project, he quoted Henry David Thoreau, saying, “It’s not what you look at, it’s what you see.” Marty added that, “Anything I do, I put my whole heart and soul into it.”
Marty said that he traveled a lot with his wife, Marie, and these travels with her led to his interest in photography. “The first image I remember taking of her was in the late 1960s on a cruise,” he said. “She looked so beautiful and it turned out to be a wonderful photograph.” He described the many places they traveled to and the photos he took of his wife, saying, “Photography has meant a great deal to my life. It’s added many pleasurable hours – I’ve traveled the world with my wife, and it cost me a little bit of shopping and meals, but it didn’t cost me any model fees!”
Marty also said that he became interested in photography as a way to relax, since there was a lot of stress for him when he was working in business. “Instead of going to the doctor, I found a pill that I could take, and that was photography. It was both very relaxing, enjoyable, and sociable, which fit into some of my skills and that’s how I got started,” he said.
The camera that he started with in the early 1950s was a box camera. He said that no matter what type of camera you have, it’s how you see it and how your eye captures the moment.
There have been many subjects that Marty has been interested in photographing. They include historical places, architecture, animals and nature, parades, clowns, sports, and people. He has a special interest in “Environment Portraits,” which show people in their environment, such as a person’s business or place of work. Also, he has loved photographing various events, settings, and buildings in New York City – a place that he refers to as a “photographic playground.”
Additionally, Marty has used artistic techniques with photography to create some very unique images. In the late 1960s, he said he saved every shot he took, even if it was out of focus. Eventually, he had an idea to turn these shots into abstracts, using techniques to make it like a painting or as if it was in 3-D. He also took historic photographs of Mill Pond and through Photoshop, he made it look like a French Impressionist Painting.
Marty gave advice on taking a successful photograph, describing how light is a very important factor in taking a photograph. “I’ve always favored available light photography, because I thought it was a more natural setting and I only use flash in an emergency.” He said that the most important thing about taking a beautiful photograph, though, is to remember: “It’s here in your brain, it’s here in your eye, it’s here in your heart.”