A collection of unlikely circumstances helped Wilton-based photographer Nina Pomeroy take on her latest personal project, titled Your First Best Friend.
A showing of the project will open at URA the Spa in Wilton beginning this evening, May 29, from 5 to 7.
The project, a portrait collection of grandparents and their grandchildren, drew its first inspiration from a picture Ms. Pomeroy has counted among her possessions for many years.
“Every January I look for a personal project to get inspired about,” Ms. Pomeroy said from her home earlier this month.
As she began thinking through that process one afternoon earlier this year, she noticed movement out of the corner of her eye and realized a portrait of her grandmother (standing next to her own grandmother) had begun to roll off its shelf.
“I realized I had grown up with my grandmother in a two-family house in Brooklyn, but I had never had a formal portrait with her,” she said.
While the photographer began mulling over the idea of a family portrait project, a realization helped solidify the concept behind Your First Best Friend.
“One thing I haven’t told you yet,” she said from her home, “is that the day the frame began to fall was the anniversary of my grandmother’s death.”
With the idea solidified in her mind, she went out looking for young children and their grandparents willing to sit for the project. She didn’t have to look farther than former clients for willing participants, Ms. Pomeroy said.
In fact, some grandparents were so excited about the idea they came to Wilton from as far away as Rochester, Greenwich Village, and Long Island.
“Some of the grandparents were infirm and needed help getting in and out of the studio. There was up to 15 inches of snow on the ground sometimes, but they were very determined to be involved in the project,” she said.
The photos produced from the sessions are black-and-white studio portraits on deep matte paper that Ms. Pomeroy said was more related to the film beginnings of her business over 14 years ago.
“There is no retouching; I didn’t eliminate any wrinkles,” she said. “This was very much like my background in film. I even told them exactly what to wear.”
Nonetheless, all of her models told her afterward they were overjoyed with the final photos.
“They absolutely love them,” Ms. Pomeroy said. “They really exceeded their expectations — because many really didn’t know what to expect.”
One of the most memorable comments she heard from one of her subjects, Ms. Pomeroy said, summarized her outlook on photography as a medium.
“One man told me that I really had a way of connecting with my subjects. He said everyone who participated will remember these forever,” she said,
The idea of “forever” is something Ms. Pomeroy holds closely to her interest in photography.
“Life can be unexpectedly short, and to have a memory documented in a photograph can bring you back to that place and time. People get a kick out of looking back and seeing where they were, or what they were wearing,” she said.
During the show’s opening at URA the Spa, there will be a live raffle — including prizes like a free custom facial and a gift card for a portrait session — as well as light refreshments.
After the opening, the show will hang for at least seven days.
Ms. Pomeroy works with clients throughout the Fairfield and Westchester areas. She opened her own studio after leaving the Manhattan working world for a career more suited to her passions.
“If I won the lottery, I would still be doing this tomorrow — for free!” she said with a grin. “I just love doing what I do.”