Split Second Encounters


What is it about people’s portraits that can be captured and transferred to a sheet of dull or glossy paper; what is the one thing that can be grabbed and, with a press of a shutter release button, recorded?

Is the person someone who spends their waking life inwardly or outwardly?

Are they sad, joyous, pensive, curious, adventuresome, angry, happy, lonely, self-confident or awkward?

This is the light or darkness that I seek and strive to embrace. By using only black and white images the dullness or boldness of the surrounding environments and costumes take a backseat and make us, as viewers, try harder to tell or read the story of the person’s life. Sometimes the subject and I only have split seconds together and our paths never will cross again, sometimes I have known them for years but always I view my subjects as being very much a part of my life.

These moments behind the lens enrich me.  


Shapleigh was surrounded with photographs while he was growing up as his father and grandfather were both avid amateur photographers. Many of the black and white photos that Shapleigh’s grandfather captured were of people, buildings or landscapes in New England, Europe and the Caribbean in the latter part of the 19th century. These were fascinating shots of a time when travel was by horse, carriage, train or boat; a time when everyone dressed as if going to a Sunday service; a time when cities where filled with soot from wood or coal fires, dirt streets were a dangerous place with droppings from the horses, the countryside a place of quiet beauty as well as industrious hillside farms and their families.  

Shapleigh’s father, and later his step-father, were also great travelers consuming the sights from even further afield than the grandfather. The photos that they each shot in the mid to late 20th century evolved into color transparencies of great clarity and beauty peaking Shapleigh’s interest in the art of photography.

So it is not surprising that Shapleigh would continue the curiosity his forefathers had. Without a formal, structured education in the world of photography Shapleigh has always been able to explore the various means of capturing images – be they film, transparencies, transfers or digital.  Once again returning to the black and white of his youth for the special qualities of timeliness and light, Shapleigh has been focusing on portraits of people with the hopes of capturing the owner’s particular emotions of the moment. 


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