At home with photography in Shelburne Falls

  • Benjamin Dart and some of his photographs he has taken. Recorder Staff/Diane Broncaccio

  • Benjamin Dart inside his photography studio in Shelburne Falls. Recorder Staff/Diane Broncaccio

  • Benjamin Dart inside his photography studio in Shelburne Falls. Recorder Staff/Diane Broncaccio

Recorder Staff
Thursday, August 03, 2017

SHELBURNE FALLS — “If someone had said, ‘You’re going to be a photographer’ 10 years ago, I would have laughed at them,” says Ben Dart of Shelburne Falls. “I never thought I’d be doing this. … Somehow, I got bitten by the bug.”

Recently, Dart celebrated the first-year anniversary of Benjamin Dart Photography, a photography studio and gallery at 4 Conway St. The gallery itself has excellent views of some of Shelburne Falls’ best landmarks, and Dart has Shelburne Falls and its surroundings squarely in his lenses.

Dart took photos as a child and later created a seasonal photo calendar for an environmental studies project, when he was a student at Mohawk Trail Regional School. Some of the subjects he took then have resurfaced in his newer landscape photos.

He has also taken photographs for Tapestry Health, which ended up being used on billboards in Greenfield and Pittsfield. Dart also takes photo portraits and head-shot photos at this shop.

The photos on his walls include color and black and white subjects, both created with digital cameras and with film cameras — including Dart’s 4-by-4-inch format Mamiya film camera.

“This is like the listening-to-vinyl-records version of photography, he says of his Mamiya camera. “There’s the mystery of wondering what are the photos going to look like.” Dart develops the negatives of his film camera prints, then scans them to make prints. Some of his black and white prints have some unusual developer ingredients: instant coffee and Vitamin C.

Dart said he took some photo classes for fun at Holyoke Community College, but is mostly self-taught. After working at the Yankee Candle Co. for 15 years, he was “burned out on IT” (information technology), and quit his job to pursue photography.

“Looking back, I was not really excited by IT, and I had this passion (for photography) I wanted to pursue. I left Yankee Candle on the last day of 2015, and six months later, this (gallery) space opened up. I took it as a sign,” said Dart.

Dart said he had just moved back to Shelburne Falls after Tropical Storm Irene, “and that’s when I bought my first camera,” he said. “I love this town. I would just walk around and take photos.”

Besides dramatic sunsets and moonlit scenes of the village, Dart also takes product photos and has photographed painting for artists.

The Gallery is open Thursday through Sunday from 11 am. to 5 p.m., by appointment, or whenever the “open” banner is flying near the door, he says. For more information, or to make an appointment, Dart can be reached at: 413-775-3316 or by email at: bendart@gmail.com

His photography gallery is also on Facebook.