Photographer David Y. Parker
Courtesy of David Y. Parker
Photographer David Y. Parker

Art beneath the water

David Parker Jr., who chronicles the lives of the beavers in his pond, shows his photos at Crowell Gallery

The Crowell Art Gallery at Moore Free Library will presents a wildlife photography exhibition by David Y. Parker Jr.

The free exhibit will run from Saturday, March 2 to Sunday, March 31. A reception will be held on March 2 from 1 to 3 p.m.

Parker has been living in Brookline for the last 30 years, in a house built by his grandfather in the late 1960s.

The house sits on a small bluff above a 2½-acre beaver pond. All of his photographic work comes from the pond, which he also calls his "studio."

"I live, basically, with these beavers, and they've created this amazing aquatic paradise here that attracts all kinds of wildlife," Parker says.

"You get to see these animals up close, and I have always felt that part of my responsibility as the steward of the land, if you will, is to interfere as little as possible with what they do," he says. "So when you see pictures that I take and put out there, they are pictures that are taken at a respectful distance."

An individual photo might take 1/1000 of a second of time, he says - "yet I may have been sitting there for three hours taking hundreds of other photographs, but then deciding to share this one."

Parker has gotten the opportunity to observe these animals' life cycles. He has seen them build families, grieve, and experience other milestones.

Learning beyond the classroom

Parker grew up in Buffalo, New York, and spent summers here in his childhood.

His family owned a house here for over 100 years, though it's different from his current home. "We've been around here for a good long time," he says.

After an undergraduate degree from Middlebury College and a master's degree from Norwich University, Parker ended up making Vermont his home.

Before his photography journey, he worked as an elementary school teacher in Newfane.

"I've always enjoyed the outdoors," Parker says. "I'm somebody who's always been interested in birds and spend a lot of time teaching about birds when I'm working with third- and fourth-grade children, as I did for most of my teaching career."

He stated he was amazed at some of what he was seeing anew.

"I just hadn't been aware of the diversity of birds," Parker says. "And other wildlife, it was just a great thing. And so I began, again, taking pictures - you know, working on my craft, and hopefully getting better and better."

Developing photos and a relationship to photography

Parker says he doesn't really do shows - though he did do one at Crowell Gallery in early 2020, and he had a show at the Marina in Brattleboro.

He was still taking a lot of photos during the Covid shutdown but was not printing a lot, or putting a lot of effort into displaying anything he had recently taken, due to the uncertainty of when anything would reopen.

During the intervening years, he has gone back and looked at photos from the last six or seven years "again, with a sort of different fresh set of eyes," Parker explained.

"Our older photographs - they've never been shown publicly before, but I have reworked them to the point where I really liked what I had," he says. "And so it's kind of neat."

Parker explained for someone looking to get into photography, it takes practice and learning from your mistakes, just like everything else. He advises new photographers to "just stick with it and be willing to learn new things."

"I'd spend probably four hours a day with my camera outside," he says, noting that during that time he might take "anywhere from 500 to 1,000 frames."

"I would shoot, then spend another couple hours going through to maybe find one or two, maybe three, that might be worth keeping," Parker says.

"But just keep doing that."

The Crowell Art Gallery is part of the Moore Free Library at 23 West St., Newfane. Library and gallery hours: Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday, 1 to 5 p.m.; Thursday, 1 to 6 p.m., and Saturday 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

This Arts item by Alyssa Grosso was written for The Commons.

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