Vanity fur

Tail-wagging furtography with Elizabeth Convery-Luce

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When Elizabeth Convery-Luce gets interested in a creative pursuit, she doesn’t just dream about it or dabble at it, she pursues it wholeheartedly — at least until the next inspiration strikes her. So far, Convery-Luce has worked professionally as a Cordon Bleu–trained pastry chef, a clothing designer, a children’s boutique co-owner, a wedding cake baker, and owner and operator of various inns and B andBs. Now, with her latest endeavor, photography, Convery-Luce is earning her stripes, while having a lot of fun.

Recently the Edgartown-based photographer was named a Platinum Medalist in Professional Photographers of America’s (PPA) 2021 International Photographic Competition. Her work will be on display this month at Imaging USA, to be held in Maryland. Imaging USA is one of the largest annual conventions and expos for professional photographers.

Over 5,000 images by photographers from across the country were submitted to the competition. Three of the four images that Convery-Luce entered made it into the PPA Imaging Excellence Collection. Her fourth image was among 300 submissions to be selected for inclusion in the annual showcase collection — the best of the best. Not bad for someone who has never shown her work in a gallery before.

The winning submissions were judged as much on storytelling as on aesthetics and technical ability. Each of Convery-Luce’s four photos is not only stunning, but also has a narrative component and a very descriptive (sometimes witty) title.

For two of her entries, Convery-Luce chose images of Island ospreys. In one titled “Angle of Attack,” the raptor is shown with wings fully outspread, homing in on its prey. For “Night Watcher,” Convery-Luce created a composite, using a dramatic photo of an osprey perched on a branch with a huge full moon as backdrop. Adding some humor to the mix is Luce’s photo “The Divine Right of Dogs,” featuring the photographer’s two French bulldogs seated on a throne sporting a mini crown and a golden sunburst headdress.

Convery-Luce’s two Frenchies — Olive and Maisy — feature often in her art photos. “I love dressing my dogs up,” she says. They are shown variously as superheroes and canine royalty, sometimes posed in the style of an Old Master painting with an appropriate backdrop. “I love that fine art Rembrandt-type look,” says Convery-Luce, who often manipulates her photos to give them a distinctive style.

“I’m not a traditionalist in any sense,” she says. “What I love is the artistic possibilities with photography. There’s so much you can do. I use the tools that are available. I really enjoy photo manipulation, which is really fun for me.”

Animals are the photographer’s favorite subjects, along with two of her dogs (there’s a new member of the pack who’s a little photo-shy for now). Convery-Luce has also spent a good deal of time shooting Highland cows at Slough Farm in Edgartown, along with other livestock and local birds. “I love the animals of the Island,” she says. “So many people are already doing the landscape work. I wanted to shoot what I’m passionate about.”

In 2020, Convery-Luce opened a photography studio on Mariner’s Way in Edgartown, but had to shut down almost immediately due to COVID. Now she’s back up and running, specializing in pet portraiture. “I really love working with animals,” says Luce. “I never push them. I won’t force a cat or dog. I work with them to make them comfortable and make it fun for everyone.”

Convery-Luce shoots in the studio — with or without manipulated backdrops or props — or outdoors, whichever the client prefers. She Photoshops out leashes and other things to make the images look as natural as possible. So far Luce has done pet portraits of dogs, cats, rats, and rabbits, but she won’t limit herself. “I’ll shoot any animal,” she says. “You can bring me a spider. Bring me a lizard.”

It was only natural that Convery-Luce would take to the arts. Her grandmother, mother, and sister are all artists. Her family, as well as her husband’s family, can trace their Island roots back many generations. Just about everyone in the Convery family does something creative. Luce herself has won multiple blue ribbons for various art projects (sewing, crochet, and art photography) at the annual Ag Fair, where her father often exhibits his carvings. “In my family we say, ‘It’s not a fair if you don’t put something in,’” she says.

For the past few years, Convery-Luce has set up at the Chilmark Flea Market selling her fine art prints and children’s clothing, along with dog cookies, dog peanut butter (!), and dog-themed necklaces. It seems that there’s hardly any type of creative outlet that the energetic Vineyard native hasn’t explored. “I just keep reinventing myself,” says Luce. “I get bored really quickly.”

You can check out Luce’s work and find out more about scheduling a photo shoot at bit.ly/Luce_Photog.

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