New Hampshire Home July-August 2023 - 103

MASTER OF HIS CRAFT
A Personal Perspective
Former State Artist Laureate Gary Samson is a virtuoso of photography and film.
FINE-ART PHOTOGRAPHER,
educator, and documentary filmmaker
Gary Samson creates deeply personal
portraits of people using traditional
methods.
The state's seventh Artist Laureate,
Samson has recorded the world's
changing landscapes and captured
the spirit of the hardworking people
he meets since 1971. To spotlight New
Hampshire's history as an industrial
hub for textile manufacturing, he
documented the life of immigrant
workers at Manchester's Amoskeag
Mills in photography and on film.
Several other documentary films about
New Hampshire's people followed.
His portraiture reveals the delicate,
personal collaboration between photographer
and subject, like the haunting photo
of Brianna with outstretched hands, or
the straightforward image of portrait photographer
Lotte Jacobi. While manager
of photography at the University of New
Hampshire, he made a film about Jacobi,
and spent six years archiving her 47,000
negatives.
At the Kimball Jenkins School of Art
in Concord, Samson educates students
about large-format photography and
wet-plate photography, which is a 19thcentury
process that creates images on
light-sensitive glass or metal using various
chemicals.
His photo exhibition " Creole Soul "
recently opened at Seacoast African
American Cultural Center, and his work is
in high demand. Samson's photos remain
in permanent collections and museums
around New Hampshire, including the
Currier Museum of Art, UNH Art Museum,
and St. Anselm College. They are also
at the National Archives in Washington,
D.C., and in private collections.
Samson says one key way to capture
a subject's direct gaze is to remove
distractions. He keeps the shutter on his
cameras-usually a Hasselblad, Wisner,
or Leica-obscured and the environment
quiet when taking intimate portraits.
" I try to give people as little direction as
BY EMILY REILY | PHOTOGRAPHY BY GARY SAMSON
100 New Hampshire Home | July / August 2023
PHOTO BY JOHN W. HESSION

New Hampshire Home July-August 2023

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