Better Late Than Never

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Jericho woman rediscovers her love of photography

Weiss’s Happy 100 to Nathan’s Famous earned her an Award of Excellence from the Art League of Long Island.
Weiss’s Happy 100 to Nathan’s Famous earned her an Award of Excellence from the Art League of Long Island.

For Jericho resident Joan Weiss, a returnee to the world of photography, beauty lies in the subtleties.

“It’s the little things that make the difference between an average photo and a stunning photo,” said Weiss. “Basically, if everyone is looking in one direction, I look in another.”

This desire to go beyond the traditional sense of what makes for a “good photograph” has been the driving force behind Weiss’s powerful images, which typically consist of her travels and the largely unnoticed details she encounters along the way.

At a glimpse, her photos may seem like the the work of a professional in the field and the product of years of formal training, but Weiss actually returned to her once beloved hobby just two years ago.

Her background in photography dates back to the 1960s, as she took film-based photography classes at Cornell University and Columbia University. In the 1990s, she began displaying her work around galleries in New York City, particularly within the Chelsea area, known at the time for its thriving art scene. She took a hiatus from the craft when photography became mostly digital, and then began to focus on her career as a medical writer and head of a continuing medical education company.

“As soon as I had a high-pressure job and had to raise a family, I kind of hung up the idea of doing photography,” said Weiss reflecting on her decision to take a break in lieu of her career. “Then I retired and closed my company, and when I turned 68 the idea of getting back into it seriously lured me in.”

Now, at 70, Weiss’s rediscovered love of capturing unusual images has brought her to exotic locations including Spain, Vietnam and several South American destinations, serving as the inspiration behind entire exhibits she has been, and will be, a part of.

Following a successful exhibit at the Mineola Public Library, Weiss is preparing for two upcoming exhibits, one at the Shelter Rock Art Gallery beginning in March and another at Art League of Long Island in May. Visitors can expect to see photos in line with Weiss’s usual style of honing in on minute details and discovering beauty where others typically would not.

“I don’t like to follow rules,” said Weiss. “My creativity would be crushed if I always had that in the back of my mind.”

Weiss continued to expand on how she’s personally grown as a photographer, explaining that she has dismissed the notion that an entire scene needs to be included in the frame. She believes that the most compelling images employ an air of mystery, leaving the audience to fill in the missing details. Such was the case with her photo entitled Happy 100 to Nathan’s Famous, which earned her an Award of Excellence from the Art League of Long Island this past summer, and was displayed at the Mineola exhibit.

Though within the past two years she has accomplished more in photography than she could have imagined, she has her sights set on continuing to improve her craft.

“I’m not interested in the financial aspect of it all,” she said. “I just want to create things that are artistic and branch out into more galleries, not just at the local level but also in New York City or Brooklyn or the Hamptons.”

For more information about her upcoming exhibits as the dates near, visit www.artleagueli.net and www.uucsr.org/connect/committees/shelter-rock-art-gallery.

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