Jack rotates his collections through a number of area galleries, and during the first half of 2012 has shown at Hartford Public Library ArtWalk Gallery exhibiting A Walk Down Park Street; DOT Gallery at Department of Transportation showing New England Stone Walls: Icon at Risk; Blue Oak Gallery at Nathan Hale Inn on UCONN campus in Storrs, CT showing Classic Connecticut Stone Walls, and City Fare Gallery exhibiting We Two, a collection of pairs of people interacting.
The phrase Tripping the Light Fantastic is splashed across my business cards and letterhead. For more than 45 years I've been capturing just the right light for corporate clients around the world.
As a hired gun, my assignments are often highly structured. The client usually has very specific needs for me to fill. I have to show his product is the strongest in the world, that it bounces the highest, or stretches the farthest. I have to communicate that his employees never tire of servicing the customer, and can build a better product every time.
Even though there may seem to be little room for spontaneity and serendipity on a corporate assignment, I'm always on the lookout for the happy accident, the surprising light that falls across a surface, the telling relationship with a background object. So I'm always sharpening my ability to see...to be ready for magic to happen before my camera.
Whenever I travel on corporate advertising assignments, I leave myself time to wander and explore, to look around and see what grabs my attention. I walk the streets of whatever city I'm in, with camera in hand, stretching my ability to see. Practicing my craft. In summer, I take respite on a Maine island where I shoot hundreds of rolls of film...a lobsterman baiting mackeral bags, a craggy old-timer lifting massive rocks to repair a stone wall, a retired New Jersey lawyer arriving at a waterfront lunch wagon in a battered Humvee with Luciano Pavarotti blaring from his radio. There are pictures everywhere I turn.
When I'm home at my studio in Wethersfield, I exercise the ritual of street portraiture by heading for downtown Hartford, just a few miles away. Hartford is an unpretentious city without much street theatre, and in some ways it's harder to find pictures here than almost any place I shoot. Hartford is not dramatic like Manhattan, or picturesque like European cities. And I usually have to work very hard to find the energy that animates the city. For the past year, I've been focusing on a 2-mile stretch of Park Street, a rich, diverse neighborhood which has greeted generations of immigrants for almost 400 years.
When I'm not shooting Park Street, I use my free time to continue working on various fine art collections of New England stone walls, Connecticut farmers, Winter, Lakes, Streams and Shoreline, Chairs and People Sitting, Two-by-two Portraits, Historic Connecticut....
After 45 years of looking, listening, absorbing, shooting--one thing at a time. Of quieting down, being still, finding one detail, one design, one face among many. In the course of all this photography, frames of film gravitate toward other frames of film. Color and compositions share a spark of familiarity, and themes start to emerge into collections which I share with my friends at galleries, museums, and public spaces. Making photographs and telling stories is the most essential part of who I am.
In 1972 Jack went on his own as a freelance photographer, working on ad campaigns for New York and Connecticut clients. Within a few years he opened McConnell & McNamara and traveled the United States and Europe for Fortune 500 Clients, such as Emery Worldwide, Sperry Computer, Boeing, United Technologies and Stanley; and shooting annual reports for just about every Connecticut bank, insurance company, and manufacturer. In 1978 he began his stock photography archive which has grown to 250,000 images used by clients for brochures, websites, TV spots, and book covers.
He's shot in-store displays, billboards and catalogs for clients like Spalding, Heublein, Pepperidge Farms, White Flower Farms, Smith Corona, and Craftsmen Tools for Sears. He's given photography workshops across the country for Calumet, and been a featured photographer for the Outdoor Life TV channel. His photography for AIDS awareness and addiction posters helped win a National Endowment for the Arts grant for Concerned Citizens for Humanity. He has photographed numerous books and covers for publishers like Firefly, Marshall Cavendish, Harcourt, Globe Pequot Press, and McMadden Prepress.
Jack's personal photography is collected by more than 50 New England corporations and professional institutions for Board rooms, lobbies, and hallways. His fine art work can be seen in museums, galleries and public spaces in CT, ME and FL.
Since accidentally becoming a photographer while working as a weather observer at the Mt. Washington Observatory in 1956, Jack has been largely self-taught. Two years as a photographer in the 82nd Airborne, 921 Combat Engineers, a year as a news photographer at the North Country Journal in Berlin, NH, and two years as research photographer for the Cold Regions Research Labs in Hanover, NH measuring ice core samples in Greenland and high altitude soil movement studies in the Medicine Bowl of Wyoming rounded out Jack's experience. In 1964 he moved to Connecticut to work as a documentary photographer for Pratt & Whitney Research Labs, followed by six years as Chief Photographer and Cinematographer for Aetna Life & Casualty.
ARTWALK Gallery at Hartford Public Library, Blue Oak Gallery at Nathan Hale Inn, DOT Gallery at CT Dept of Transportation, CityFare Gallery, CT River Museum Gallery, Duncaster Gallery, Hartford Fine Art & Framing, West Hartford Art League, Pumphouse Gallery, Promenade Gallery, Town & County, Picture This, Shoreline Alliance for the Arts, 100 Pearl Street Gallery, Thompson Library Gallery, Priam Vineyard Gallery, Small Walls Gallery, Brick Gallery, Ga11ery Eleven, Grille 207, Peppercorns, CT River Community Bank, Vanilla Bean Cafe, CT Audubon Society at Pomfret, Gilded Edge, Seven Knots Gallery, Blue Heron, Double Door Gallery, Islesboro Historical Society, New Britain Museum of American Art, Slater Museum, Mattatuck Museum, John Slade Ely Museum, Serendipity Gallery, Photosynthesis, Windsor Art Center...
Over the past 45 years, I've written dozens, maybe even a hundred, Artist Statements trying to win a grant or an opportunity to show my work in a certain gallery or museum. And always it boils down to my trying to share my point of view about a landscape, a group of people, an issue or idea. Using a camera I capture a moment in time, which may have a universal element, if I'm lucky, that helps me tell a larger story. It's very difficult to take a photograph that tells it all in one frame of film. So I rely on my archive of 250,000 photographs to build a collection that communicates my mission. And I rely on friends who are writers and graphic designers to help me share my vision with the public.
Anything might inspire me on any given day. I try to go out with an open mind and be in the moment wherever I am. Shooting photographs is as Zen-like a process as anything I can imagine, for a photograph represents only the smallest instant of time. Nothing that comes before or after you click the shutter matters at all. Anything just beyond the picture frame may as well be a million miles away. So taking photographs every day as I do for business and pleasure, constantly offers me the opportunity to experience life in the moment.
When I first start to take a photograph, I quiet myself down, and become one with the environment or the person I'm trying to see. If I go out looking for a particular image, it seldom appears; and it's pointless for me to waste my time trying to force a scene into being a picture. But, if I go out open-minded, with an empty hand, I almost always find a photograph.
I try to live my life the way I take my pictures--to be one with where I am, and who I'm with--to really experience the moment I'm in. When I meet certain rocky patches in my life, as we all do, I have deep reservoirs of well-being to draw upon, and I always know that "right now, in this moment," I'm truly all right, no matter what is happening.
Creating books of poetry and short stories using my photography to illustrate social issues and emotions, collaborating with Paula McNamara and other writers; working with wonderful graphic designers to illustrate posters, billboards and other graphic projects; using my photography to elect Democratic Party candidates at local, state, and national levels; illustrating projects to weigh in on social issues that improve the life of the average American and the under-represented. Working with graphic designers and writers to produce beautiful and effective art in whatever medium.
Concerned Citizens for Humanity (AIDS awareness and addiction issues); Latino community along Park Street through Frog Hollow and Parkville, including families, merchants, and seniors from 20 Caribbean, Central and South American immigrant sources (A Walk Down Park Street collection); islanders on community of Islesboro, ME photographed for 25 years, mostly B&W; Lancaster Country Fair in Lancaster, NH; workers and city dwellers in downtown Hartford (A Walk Down Main Street-10 years of observations); appreciating and saving our stone walls (New England Stone Walls: Icon at Risk); appreciating our Connecticut Farmers (three years of photography); appreciating the history and beauty of Connecticut (Connecticut tourism projects 25 years)...