Published April 9, 2012 in the Times Argus
Rep. Stevens has another eye for details
MONTPELIER — Although Tom Stevens’ iPhone is not the prettiest thing to look at — a shattered screen held together by a clear protective cover — it serves a critical purpose.
Other than being used to answer calls and sift through an endless stream of emails, Rep. Stevens, D-Waterbury, uses his phone as a camera, capturing little bits of his life as each day passes.
“My phone is like a leash,” said Stevens with a chuckle. “It is always attached to me.”
Stevens started posting his artsy iPhone photos on his Facebook page and has received a lot of positive feedback.
“People started asking if I was going to put together an exhibit,” said Stevens.
Stevens isn’t one for photo opportunities on the campaign trails; he would rather see pictures capture the community rather than the candidate.
“I hate the pictures of all of us shaking hands on the campaign trail,” said Stevens.
Stevens love for iPhone photography didn’t come until two years ago when he was at the Children’s Room barn dance event in Waterbury Center and on a hayride.
“The clouds were really low in the sky,” said Stevens, who remembers that’s when he first started playing with the phone’s camera and applications that were available to alter the photos.
After that, it became a hobby and he started uploading photos a few times a week.
It is not about how expensive your camera is, said Stevens, who said all of his photos are taken with the 3 megapixel camera built into his iPhone 3GS.
“It doesn’t matter what kind of camera you have as long as you have it with you,” said Stevens.
In his photos, Stevens tends to focus on the small details that others might not notice, like the birds depicted in the iron grates in the state house or the pattern of the carpet.
“These things are hiding in plain sight,” said Stevens. “It is about having the eye for it.”
Recently, Stevens’ photos have had specific themes. He had a series of photos of the portraits of Vermont’s governors that ar hanging on the walls beneath the golden dome.
Stevens is an artist by trade, but has mostly dabbled in the realm of performing arts. He has a degree in theater performance from Boston University’s College of Fine Arts and has worked as an actor, writer and director.
So, in a world surrounded by a burden to make serious policy decisions, Stevens has made photography his creative outlet.
For Stevens, it is a nice break from writing or acting where you are forced to be creative all the time. With photography, the art comes from being in the right place at the right time and training your eye to see things others may not.
“You just have to wait and see,” said Stevens. “And have something to capture it with.”
Stevens said he hopes to have a gallery show of his photos in Waterbury sometime this summer. Local artists, including Mame McKee who owns the Seminary Art Center in Waterbury Center, have supported Stevens.
The issue, he said, is narrowing the hundreds of photos he has taken down to about 50 photos for a show.
He also is considering an innovative way to show the photos.
“I don’t want to blow them up,” said Stevens, adding that because they are taken and edited on a phone, he would not like to see them much bigger than the size of the phone screen.
Stevens has also played with the idea of showing them back-lit, like they appear on his phone or on a computer screen — either as slides that viewers would hold up to a light or printed on iridescent paper.
Eventually, Stevens said, he will upgrade to a new iPhone, that does not have a shattered screen and is equipped with a better camera but no matter what he will keep taking snapshots.