Richard Lovrich is keeping an eye on members of what he describes as the “creative economy” in the Capital Region.
Not just dancers, not just singers, not just actors. Anyone connected to the creative arts is fair game for Lovrich’s vision through a Leica camera.
Since early March, the creative director at Proctors in Schenectady has been posting daily black-and-white profile shots on social photo- and video-sharing site Instagram. The photos have also been posted to Lovrich’s Facebook and Twitter accounts.
Lovrich invites people to follow his gallery posts across all three social media platforms. His name — “Richard Lovrich” — is not hard to spell or pronounce. He says he’s easy to find.
Lovrich, who lives in Guilderland, hit the halfway mark on his yearlong project last month and today marks its seventh month. A man of big energy and big ideas, Lovrich talked about the artistic exercise — and why he thinks the planned 365-photo gallery is important.
Q: You recently passed the six-month mark. When you began this project, what were your expectations?
A: I have a reputation, right? I write very short stories and I’ve posted nearly 1,000 of them to Facebook, so I didn’t have any doubt I was going to stick with it. I was very thrilled, actually. There was a picture I took of Twyla Tharp at SUNY (Albany) for the project we were doing; I took a picture at the podium.
I posted it, and said “You know what? That’s number one.” It just started right there. There are pictures that I’ve taken in the recent past, pictures I continue to take at events. The challenge now is that I’m trying to broaden my range of areas of the creative economy I haven’t quite touched. So some friends and connections and some of my portraits are actually connecting me to other people who I might not have thought of, and some areas of the creative economy I haven’t thought of.
For me, it’s an adventure. I love creative people, they’re my other family, . . . and watching them connect with one another on Instagram is very gratifying.
Q: Who are some of the people in the gallery?
A: It ranges from the guys who are part of the group Mokoomba who came to Music Haven two years ago, all the way to a teacher, Roger Hyndman, a gentleman who does the Olympics for the Visual Arts, fantastic program. He doesn’t get all the attention that he should, so it’s terrific for me to put a picture up and have people talk about how much they love him and really appreciate him.
I love shining lights into some of these unsung areas. I have burlesque artists, painters, sculptors. I had a couple VR professionals, virtual reality, from a virtual reality shop in Troy. That was a feather, I enjoyed that. I’m going to get some gamers coming up, some game developers.
A question people have asked me is, “Where do you get them” and I know I go to events where there are creatives, but at almost every event I go to of any kind, you don’t have to look very hard to find a creative there.
Q: People must say, “Richard, you work at Proctors. People must come to you!” Have there been a lot of Proctors performers in the gallery?
A: There have been just a few. At Proctors, our contact with them is not quite as fluid. But at Capital Repertory in Albany, our other theater, we have had more contact because we obviously make the shows there.
Q: Have you photographed a lot of celebrities?
A: I do have a few celebrities and I’m kind of waiting for the holidays to post them. Sophia Loren is going to pop up in there and Neil deGrasse Tyson is going to be showing up, so I do have some awesome celebrities.
I do program it a bit on the weekends, I go for what I perceive as high-traffic people and also people I think I might be able to help. Let’s say someone is going to appear in a show that evening. I’ll try to be mindful and do that while they’re in the show. Then during the week it might be young people. I never have good gauges who’s going to get the most hits.
There are people for whom Facebook is the big thing, there are people for whom Twitter is, but it’s like we’ve been hearing in the news, Twitter is not exactly lighting it up; it’s not a photo program, really. But some people do pretty well on Twitter, some people do very well on Facebook and some people, Instagram only.
There’s a little bit of an age thing there because some of the younger artists tend to do better on Instagram, whereas on Facebook I’ve had very big showings for folks that you wouldn’t think would have a lot of Facebook friends.
Q: This sounds like a reflection of our times, and because nothing goes away on the Internet, people might be accessing these photos in 50 years. What will future people think?
A: I’m very much focused on this as historical documents. One of my passions here at Proctors as creative director is to look at our history and when I look at these pictures, one of the first things that comes to me is, “What I wouldn’t give to have come across a gallery like this, people from the ’20s, from the ’30s, from the night the theater opened. When you can agglomerate things together and put a tag on them and keep them together — it’s an obscure word, one of my favorites.
I’m very interested in history. To us, they’re just people, but obviously, in 10 years it’s going to be, “No one wears that sweater any more” and “What’s that guy doing with that on his head?” You cannot help but make history.
Q: Ever run into people who do not want their photos taken? Have to talk them into it?
A: I would prefer to take a picture of someone who’s a little annoyed at me than someone who’s posing at me. I dive right in. I don’t have a zoom lens, I don’t shoot with anything tighter than a 50mm lens and I have to engage with the person, I have to step in.
A young dominatrix who isn’t in the gallery and is coming up, she of course has a whole power thing going on, so she engaged me in a conversation. But most people have been wonderful, really wonderful. I show them the pictures, I tell them what’s happening.
I shoot while you’re talking, I shoot while you’re eating, I sneak up on people. I do have to get into your face simply because of the technology I use and those are the shots I want. In some shots it may not be immediately apparent that they know I’m there, but they know I’m there. I have a quiet camera, I will give it that.
Q: Why did you decide to go with black and white?
A: It ties them all together, there’s a commonality. Just as I don’t want people to think, famous actors and a burlesque person from Troy, I would like them to be on more of an even playing field and the black and white is that playing field. I use the same filters for each picture, I don’t change them.
Q: After the 365 photos have been posted, will you consider a sequel?
A: First of all, I have to take care of this child once it’s born. I’ve already spoken to the Albany Center Gallery and Tony (Executive Director Tony Iadicicco) and I feel very comfortable in his hands. And he has some terrific ideas already for how they might be displayed, so watch this space. He just has some great ideas and there are also some other partners we’ve been talking to who want to travel it around. We don’t have an exact date for the show, but there will be a show.
Q: What will that be like, going from an online gallery to a gallery where people will walk from photograph to photograph?
A: It does change from a digital-connecting thing, but I think the theme remains completely the same. Just imagine opening night. Besides the normal invitations, we’re going to invite 365 people from around the world to come that I’ve taken portraits of. So it becomes a new alliteration of this social connection thing, except it’s more of a touching-feeling thing. It’s the real social media . . . the idea that that evening, as many people who see fit to show up will now be connecting for real.