Allen Look of West Tisbury is finally doing what he loves. At 72 years old, photography has become his full-time job.
He studied photography and film at Hampshire College, but making ends meet meant putting it in the periphery, and taking on trades like boatbuilding, cabinetmaking, and construction management. He was born in Manhattan, but calls the Vineyard his home. The Island’s inclusive art community opens doors for budding artists like Mr. Look.
“I essentially view this as starting a new business,” Mr. Look said in an interview with The Times. “It takes a lot of due diligence.”
He was charting the waters at Island Images and Crossroads Gallery, the shared space of Julian Weiss and Michael Blanchard on Circuit Avenue in Oak Bluffs. “I was seeing what’s up, and checking out prices,” he said.
Mr. Weiss and Mr. Blanchard offered up their space for Mr. Look to showcase his work. “I was intrigued by the idea of a little pop-up,” he said. “It seems to be the way to get your stuff out there these days.”
On Thursday, August 24, from 5 to 7 pm, Mr. Look’s photos will hang on gallery walls for the first time. The images displayed will be from his trip to Vietnam in 2005.
“There are a number of reasons why I wanted to spend some time over there — Vietnam played a significant role in my life,” Mr. Look said. “I wasn’t engaged in any hostilities by choice, but it was still a daily part of life. I lost some good friends in Vietnam. That was part of my motivation.”
Mr. Look motorcycled through the country, and snapped shots of the people, food, culture, and landscapes. “If I come across an interesting subject, I shoot it. It’s about giving myself over to the experience, and taking away some memories.”
Mr. Look said he was amazed by the history, tenacity, and resiliency of the people. “I had no idea what I would encounter in terms of political angst, but there was none of that,” he recounted. “The people were wonderful, the food was outstanding, and the natural beauty was breathtaking.”
He selected a range of colored images he found noteworthy, tuned them up, and they’re ready to go. Mr. Look has also been invited to participate in a group show at A Gallery that begins Labor Day weekend. The theme for the show is street photography, and he’s choosing film from a totally different catalogue. Mr. Look has collected more than 40,000 images over the years, dating back to the 1960s.
“It’s what I’ve been doing forever, but now I’m really doing it,” he said.