Creating a new look

Leslie Look
Photographer Leslie Look stands by her double-exposed photograph, "Bride's Heaven." Photo by Ralph Stewart

By Brooks Robards - April 26, 2007

After years of being the first at many things, photographer Leslie Look branches out again with her new work, "Double Exposure," now at Featherstone. Last Sunday's true spring sunshine offered the perfect early evening light to view Ms. Look's photographs.

After first becoming interested in photography as a senior in high school in Denmark, Ms. Look's photography career on-Island has spread over 22 years. After finishing a degree in jewelry design from the University of Oregon, Ms. Look came back to the Island where she had spent many summers. She became something of a trend-setter - the first single woman to own a gingerbread house, the first female tour bus driver, and the first to begin a massage practice. Trouble with her hands cut her massage career short. When a friend asked her to photograph her wedding, she said yes, and began a new career as a wedding photographer.

"I realized I was a people person," Ms. Look said at the opening on Sunday. "My goal is for people to relax," she continued, mentioning that most wedding couples will micro-manage and not enjoy the day. She finds pleasure in helping throughout the day to ensure that things go smoothly and everyone has a good time. "I am a straight-shot and worth the money," she said confidently.

"Housefire," an example of Leslie Look's new work. Image courtesy of Leslie Look

Her work in this show is new - an effort to produce something fresh, "exciting, fun, and different." She added that in recent years with the influx of off-Island photographers coming to work the summer wedding scene, there is simply more competition. She feels her new work has really stimulated her creative juices and she has enjoyed it significantly even though wedding photography is her favorite type of work.

Ms. Look's favorite two double-exposed images on display are the "Vineyard Moon" and "Lighthouse Sail." "Vineyard Moon" depicts Harborview grapes, one of the things she loves about the Island, with the image of the moon, and "Lighthouse Sail" reminds her of her summers on the Harthaven beach.

The show includes numerous other images. Two calm sepia toned images, "Ivy Tower" and "Fisher Garden." Also there is an impressive large image reminiscent of our chilly winter called "Ice Harbor."

Tom Dresser, hosting the event for Featherstone, said, "I am intrigued. I have never seen this type of work before and am impressed with Leslie's dedication." Her dedication continues after Featherstone. She plans to show at the All Island Art Show, the Family Planning Show, and is working toward a show at the Old Sculpin, her favorite gallery.

Leslie Look and Virginia Besse
Ms. Look speaks with Virginia Besse, originally from Edgartown, for whom the Featherstone gallery is named, during the opening reception. Photo by Ralph Stewart

The process by which she creates this work sounds simple, or so I thought. She explained that it is not simple. She uses film, the real thing. Then she shoots the image. She saves the film. She reloads the film and shoots directly over the already used film. The accuracy comes in knowing which image is on what negative and making sure they line up correctly. It creates a neat effect, an effect that my graphic design brain assumed came from a photo manipulating software program called Adobe Photoshop. I was completely wrong.

The show also included a couple "Islander" images. These were the favorite of Tisbury selectman and avid photographer, Denny Wortman. I felt the nostalgia for this boat all over again as he began to speak of the past when the Islander arrived when he was 12 years old. "It is a boat that grew on everyone," he said after looking at Leslie's image of the Islander double-exposed with the Alabama and an Edgartown vista, "Edgartown's own Islander."

The opening reception last Sunday night had a constant flow of people, happy to be present and to support Ms. Look. With a summer not yet booked with wedding clients, it seems sure we will see more of her exposed images.

Leslie Look, photography show through Tuesday, May 1, at Featherstone Center for the Arts, Barnes Road, Oak Bluffs. After May 1, the photography will be on display in the Martha's Vineyard Hospital cafeteria. For more information, call Featherstone at 508-693-1850.