• Laurel Contributor

Capturing a River

by Donna Rhodes

You don’t have to travel far from your back doorstep to snap a portfolio full of fabulous images, assuming you have the unique eye of photographer Peter Ray.

He says, “One of my disciplines is to take a photo every day. In the midst of all the madness in the world, I remind myself that there is beauty all around. We mustn’t lose sight of that.”

Perhaps Peter’s vision resonates deeply because of his spiritual background, which feeds his artist’s soul. Nothing escapes his eye. He finds photo potential in the tiniest flower, insect, leaf, or fungus.

His mantra, ”Open your eyes and heart to what’s in front of you.”

While he has been heavily immersed in photography for only the past several years since his retirement, it’s always called to him. Now he has time to pursue his passion.

For the past four years, he’s focused on the Cullasaja River, from its headwaters and tributaries to its confluence with the Little Tennessee. Plans are for a book of photographs entitled “The Cullasaja: Images of a Smoky Mountain River,” to be published later in the year.

Part of the joy of Peter’s photo jaunts and printing is working with two exceptional artists, Cynthia Strain (photographer/printer) and Marjorie Christiansen (photographer/editor).

Peter says, “While I do all my developing at home, cropping, brightness, tweaking, Cynthia Strain exquisitely produces my prints, and I am unbelievably lucky to have Marjorie edit and do layout for the book.”

Peter shoots with a Nikon D750, the “D” indicating digital. He’s done film/darkroom, but finds digital every bit as rewarding, not to mention it’s less expensive and has no environmentally-toxic chemicals to dispose of.

One of Peter’s favorite books is “That Tree,” 365 iPhone photos documenting a year in the life of a lonely bur oak. Don’t let its sweet simplicity fool you. It’s been featured on CBS, NBC, and NPR as a deeply inspirational story. It will be no surprise if Peter’s reverential photos of the Cullasaja are every bit as stirring.

Visit Peter to learn more about his book and work by attending The Laurel’s Open House on Oct. 11 at Studio 106, 478 Dillard Road, Highlands Creek Village. Everyone is welcome to attend as long as you RSVP to (828) 787-2121 or info@studio106.photos. His work can also be viewed on his Facebook page as well as his website, peterrayphotography.com.

The Laurel Magazine

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