Local artist exemplifies 'pure' photography
BERLIN – The Worcester County Arts Council's latest resident artist, Ron Michaels, prides himself on his photos that capture scenes in their purest form, while adding an extra element to the image. That is, as long as his viewers look beyond the actual subject of the picture.
"It's amazing what you can see when you look closely," said Michaels, who began taking photography seriously when he moved down to the area five years ago from Pennsylvania with his wife, Priscilla.
Most of his photos display scenes of nature or local architecture, and each picture is meant to emphasize an extra, yet subtle, feature.
Looking at a piece Michaels calls "Morning Angel," he described how an Assateague Island pony grazing in the picture is illuminated by the sunlight, thus giving the photo a heavenly feel.
One of his favorite works, "Therapy," features a similar pony that happened to look at the camera at the exact moment it was being taken, and even seemingly purposefully d its face to fit between tree branches in front of it.
"Looking into the horses eyes just calms you. That's where the title comes from," he said.
Michaels has also shot many prominent buildings in the Ocean City and Berlin area, including The Atlantic Hotel on North Main Street.
The photo in his gallery displaying the historic Berlin structure is supplemented with visual flavor indicating when the picture was taken. Seeing wreaths, multicolored lights and a large horse-drawn carriage riding through town show viewers it was taken during the town's annual Victorian Christmas event.
He does not like altering images with technological tools, since he believes the raw photo speaks for itself. He does admit, however, that some images may be doctored up to make the colors more vibrant.
Taking manipulation to an extreme, some of Michaels' works are surrealist, which means he plays with the colors to give the photo an "out-of-this-world" image that could be displayed on a Pink Floyd album. However, the large majority of his photographs have not been altered.
Since retiring from a 30-year career as a high school special needs teacher, Michaels is not looking to this trade as a next step to his career, but rather a retirement hobby.
Because of that, his photos available for purchase are offered at reasonable prices.
"I'm really pleased that people actually want my pictures. I'd rather have someone take my photo home instead of just looking at it once and walking away," Michaels said.
In explaining how he captures each image, Michaels said all a person needs is to have a good camera and be at the right place at the right time.
"First, you need a vision," he said, while explaining a scenario of how he was able to capture his photo titled "Sunset Colors."
Michaels was walking around downtown Ocean City one morning and saw a row of American flags waving in the wind. He then went back to that location in the evening, just in time to capture the sun setting behind the flags.
Yet sometimes, the photographer admits the image taken isn't always what was planned.
"I went onto the beach one morning to take some pictures of fishing boats. None were in view and it looked like a lost opportunity, but then something caught the corner of my eye."
What caught his eye was the sun rising over the horizon, a view that gave Michaels the shot he calls "O.C. Rising."
His technique has earned the new arts council resident a few awards in his short career.
Michaels won third place in the landscape/scenery category of this year's Art in Nature Photo Competition at The Ward Museum of Wildfowl Art in Salisbury, as well as an honorable mention in last month's Worcester County Arts Council juried art show that took place during the 2nd Friday Art Stroll.
Helping out with daily chores and even extracurricular activities in the arts council building has even earned him a reputation in his short time in town
"It's great to have a professional photographer here, but to have someone help out so much is really special," said Anna Mullis, executive director of the Worcester County Arts Council.
"We treasure artists like this."
More information on Michaels and a sample of some of his photos can be found online at www.worcestercountyartscouncil.org. To speak to the artist directly, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.