February 2012

Picturing Peace - Jim Crotty

Author: Debbie Szpanka | Photographer: Jim Crotty

Most artists have a place where they go to connect to the core of why they create—a place which feeds inspiration for the next step of their artistic path. For local photographer, Jim Crotty, that place is Hocking Hills, Ohio. Nestled in the southeastern part of Ohio, this oasis of rustic beauty may come as a surprise to many who have fled the Midwest to find the natural ambience of the Lowcountry. Crotty returns to his home state a few times a year to rediscover its soulful beauty.

“People can’t believe it is in Ohio,” Crotty, said. “Every artist or photographer has a place where he or she does his or her best work; this is where I found mine. Hocking Hills State Park is like my artistic foundation. It’s always there for me. It’s a constant—a sort of spiritual element in my life,” Crotty said. “If I don’t return to it at least twice a year, I feel as I am losing touch with a good friend.”

Hocking Hills State Park, about an hour from Columbus, is described as some of the Midwest’s best artwork. Rustic forests and hills surround cascading waterfalls, breathtaking cliffs, and streams which have found their own path through deep cool gorges, give Crotty a peaceful place to find inspiration for his livelihood.

Crotty has published five photography coffee table books, all with nature as his centerpiece and favorite subject. Crotty’s sixth book, In the Peace of This Place, due out this month, is a hardback collection of his best photographs from Hocking Hills.

Crotty feels so strongly about this little piece of paradise in the middle of Ohio, he leads photography workshops a few times a year so others can capture how the different seasons awaken the beauty of the forest waterfalls, wildflowers and other wonders of the park.

Becky Swora, one of Crotty’s workshop students from Lima, Ohio, said the place also spoke to her artistically and it was Crotty’s instruction that helped her capture some of its beauty. “He would give pointers as to how he would approach a scene and what natural elements caught his eye,” Swora said. “However, he did it in a way that encourages me and other members of the workshop to look for themselves.”

While the wild, rustic cliffs of Ohio are his inspirational backdrop, Crotty now focuses on creating a special place for himself in the Lowcountry. After hanging up his pressed white corporate shirts as a marketing manager in the financial and manufacturing industries, the daily nature show on South Carolina’s coast gives him endless material for his photography.

Crotty has been on Hilton Head Island since April of 2011 after a heart attack in his mid-40s triggered him to reassess his lifestyle. Hilton Head Island was a second home to him since three of his brothers and his parents own houses here.

“I was ready for change. Dayton is a good place in which to grow up, however, it’s not a place you want to live for the rest of your life,” Crotty said. “From a creative standpoint, being here in the Lowcountry has a lot of positive energy. It’s something about being near the water.”

As a single dad, Crotty now focuses on raising his 12-year-old daughter Emma and pursuing photography as his heartfelt passion and profession. While he sells nature portraits for commercial building use, he also specializes in professional headshots, product/food photography, home/commercial interiors and other commercial work.

“It’s all about the light,” Crotty said. “I consider myself a visual artist, and whether I am photographing people or places, you have the find the light that allows their true nature to shine forth. Everyone is an artist in their own way, and it’s my job to help them find a way to express their artistic vision.” Crotty said. “Whether it’s a newly-renovated kitchen, a product display or a headshot, the expression of art is always there.”

Since age 12, Crotty knew photography was his artistic expression, and that desire grows stronger daily. “Being an artist is a blessing and a curse, because my mind is always creating,” he said. “Everywhere I go, I see something I need to photograph—especially when the fleeting light as in the sunrise and sunset happens so fast. I am always grappling with trying to capture these moments. I am now learning the wisdom to take in these moments, especially here on the island, with or without a camera, and let that experience impact me when I am able to create something through the lens.”

Jim Crotty owns Photography by Jim Crotty and is available for your portrait photography (individual, couples, families, high school seniors, etc.), your architectural and interior photography or nature photography. Crotty also leads nature photography workshops in the Lowcountry. For more information, call (843) 842-9200.

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