May Gallery photographer gets creative

Sarah Carmody, a local photographer and Webster University alumna, poses in her studio in Maplewood. Her work, currently on display at the May Gallery, utilizes a technique called High Dynamic Range in which two photographs taken at different exposures are mended together, allowing a tonal range as great as the true scene.

The May Gallery was abuzz with chatter Friday, Sept. 24 as a steady stream of visitors attended the opening reception for its new exhibition, “Creatorecorder,” featuring the work of photographer Sarah Carmody.

A wide range of people showed up, including students, friends of the photographer, and Webster University faculty. As they viewed Carmody’s work, attendees sipped cool drinks and munched on light refreshments.

Carmody, 39, is a Webster alumna. She graduated in 1992 with a degree in media communications, with an emphasis in photography.

Carmody’s interest in photography was sparked when she received her first camera at the age of eight. However, it was not until she was in high school that Carmody decided to pursue her interest as a career.

“Creatorecorder” is a collection of photographs that Carmody shot in a variety of locations, including the desert, various state parks and even Rolla, Mo.

The collection features photographs that range from being subtly to heavily manipulated, using Photoshop software.

“The idea is to find the place between where I’m a documentarian and creating something new,” Carmody said. “Some of them I’ve manipulated quite a bit and some of them I haven’t.”

Some of the students in attendance were there to examine Carmody’s style of photography.

“I’m interested in all of the galleries here, but I guess I’m here to see what kind of styles people use,” said Daniel Movitz, a junior photography major. “I’d like to see what I can recognize, and if there’s anything I use.”

Movitz also seized the opportunity of attending the opening reception to ask Carmody some questions about her photography, which he said he really liked.

“It’s interesting,” Movitz said. “It’s full frame, which I like. That’s my kind of style, too. I really like the effects she has on the images. It really helps you feel the image.”

Kit Jenkins, professor of communications, was also impressed by Carmody’s work.

“I think what she does, this oxidization of the prints, it’s so exciting,” Jenkins said. “It makes it more powerful, more dynamic, more magic. The colors are mesmerizing.”

Carmody describes her style of photography as experimentation with colors, to suit her whims.

“I generally like things to be kind of bold and dramatic,” Carmody said. “I love drama. I like junk, and grandeur. I like to closely inspect things as well.” She also said she draws her inspiration from many sources, such as colors, different designs and lighting. Carmody’s goal is to make people find a different perspective when looking at her photography.

“I’m gonna’ find a different way of looking at things and show other people a different way of looking at things,” Carmody said. “Whether it’s by manipulating colors or by finding things that maybe wouldn’t be considered photo worthy.”

Bill Barrett, director of the May Gallery and professor of electronic photographic media, said he decided to feature Carmody’s work after a colleague suggested it to him.

“I’m constantly trying to bring in a variety of photography that surprises people,” Barrett said.

Carmody currently works full-time as an independent photographer in Webster Groves. She is married and has one eight-year-old daughter.

Carmody also has a photo studio and gallery space in Maplewood. When she is not shooting photos, Carmody enjoys martial arts classes, watching movies and attending art exhibits.

Over the course of the evening, about 200 people came to see Carmody’s work, Barrett estimated. He also said that he considered the evening to be a success.

“Oh sure,” Barrett said, laughing. “Does it look like a flop?”

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