Local photographer Orah Moore’s latest project, “Everyday, Someone,” went on display this week at Studio Place Arts in Barre, showcasing a yearlong project in which she photographed one person every day.
It started when Moore got her new iPhone X, and wanted to teach herself to use the camera. As a commercial photographer, she uses only professional gear, but “art is different. With art, you can do whatever you want,” she said.
Moore, who’s based in Hyde Park, photographs things wherever she goes — her food, landscapes, things she sees along the roadside — and while she was playing around with her new iPhone camera, she had an idea that would translate into a project.
“How about my love of people? I love photographing people, but not when it’s a commercial portrait. I just want to do something that has people in it with no stipulations at all,” she said.
She wanted to capture them in their natural environment, without posing them or aiming to sell her work.
Anyone who knows Moore knows she has a penchant for asking friends, family and the occasional stranger to hold a pose, or look in a different direction for the few seconds it takes her to snap them into her camera’s memory chip.
“The project of photographing someone every day sounded really fun,” she said.
She started Feb. 8, 2018, and finished Feb. 7, 2019.
All the photos in the exhibit are black and white.
“My roots are as a black-and-white photographer,” Moore said. She learned to use a darkroom at 14, and says “black and white is in my veins.”
She thought working in black and white would enhance the artistic aspect of the project.
Her project started out as a technical exercise, as Moore learned the ins and outs of her new equipment. As the year went on, though, she found herself using it as an opportunity to get to know people she might not have otherwise talked to.
“I learned that the world is wide, that people are wonderful everywhere, that I just absolutely love all types of people from all walks of life and all cultures, and this is a great way to reach out and meet a few more of the world’s people.
“Do I miss photographing every day now? The answer is yes, I do. Wherever I’m going, I think, that’s an interesting person. Without the project, I don’t feel a real reason to go up and talk to somebody, a stranger, about it. I loved the idea of having a purpose for it, and the fact that many times, I gave people pictures that they would not have gotten before,” Moore said.
Her favorite subjects included two brothers walking alongside their mother last July 4, all wearing red, white and blue. Moore heard that they’d framed the photo and hung it on a wall.
Moore offered the photos to her subjects for free.
“A lot of people are just thrilled because they don’t get interesting pictures of themselves,” she said.
Moore said she didn’t get any outright refusals, though she did have to talk a few people into it, such as Doris and Butch, photographed at a barbecue restaurant in Texas where Moore and her boyfriend were traveling.
“They did not look like the kind of people who wanted to take any time beyond, ‘What did you want to eat?’” Moore said, so “I explained a little bit about who I am, ate, then I start to say, ‘I’m doing this project where I photograph someone every day for a whole year, wherever I go.’ At first she said no, and then I showed her a few other pictures. By that time, the lunch crowd had cleared out and it was just myself and my boyfriend. I started taking a few pictures. Pretty soon, she starts telling us all these stories about her life and how she’d been working here for 46 years,” Moore said.
“It’s an example of how I made these little connections with people for not very long, but it really was meaningful to me in my life. I love getting these little vignettes of other people’s lives. This way of visually capturing them was my way of thanking them.”
She did her best to incorporate seasons into the photos, snapping kids in Halloween costumes Oct. 31 and a few wintry shots when snow was falling.
“It was really the journal of the span of a whole year,” she said.
Despite her best efforts, Moore missed a day or two of finding new subjects.
“I did not think of how difficult it would be to get somebody every day. There were challenges,” she said.
Sometimes, she’d snap a selfie, or take a few pictures of her grandson, Ryder, 4, who she says would turn and flash her a big grin most of the time.
Other times, she’d call up someone she knows and ask them to help her out, such as her neighbor, Marilyn.
“I’d say, ‘Marilyn, I haven’t gotten to my picture today,’ and she said, ‘Come on down to the barn, I’m feeding the horses.’ That’s where I got one of my pictures from, (a) one-bulb light in the barn where she’s silhouetted with her house. It’s so cool,” Moore said.