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Photography show opening Thursday
Local mans work on display through June
Ryan Willett took this photo of Jacksonvilles Treaty Oak tree. It is among 30 pieces Willett will display at the Hinesville Area Arts Council gallery this month. - photo by Ryan Willett

The Hinesville Area Arts Council gallery will have a familiar feel this month as it welcomes back its first exhibitor for an encore.

Photographer and Liberty County Chamber of Commerce executive assistant Ryan Willett will showcase 30 photographs in his first show since his November 2010 debut at the Mills House. The exhibit, on display through June 29, will begins with an opening reception 5:30-7:30 p.m. Thursday.

“I take pictures of what people don’t notice,” he said, adding that his 2010 exhibit featured a shot of a single shell on a beach.

“Nobody walking down the beach is going to look at this one shell. They’re just going to say ‘Oh wow, the beach,’” he said. “So I like to bring out what stuff that people aren’t going to notice all the time, even if it’s just a statue. People walk by those all the time, but when you take a picture of them a certain way, it’s like ‘Wow, I never noticed that.’”

Detail, texture and light play are prominent features in Willett’s photographs, which contain architecture, statues and landscape elements from points of interest such as St. Augustine, Jacksonville and Savannah.

And though Willett lost his most recent images when an external hard drive failed, the digital photographer said he made sure this year’s pictures were not part of the previous exhibit.

The collection, shot between 2008 and 2010, will feature three poster-size prints, 22 18-inch by 24-inch prints and five matted 8-inch by 10-inch prints.

Willett grew up watching his mother Flemington City Clerk Terry Willett document family events with a 35-millimeter camera.

“She takes pictures like crazy,” he said. “Her camera of choice is a 35-millimeter, and she was very, very good, too. But she never pursued it as art.”

He received his first camera, a Sony Cybershot, for Christmas in 2007.

“When I picked up the camera for the first time, it just kind of happened,” he said. “I see things differently, I guess.”

While some have described his work as abstract, Willett said he has never categorized his work and does not name his photos.
His work has great symbolism that he hopes evokes a feeling among viewers.

“When I look at pictures that I’ve taken of statues or stuff like that, I take them from certain angles,” he said. “To me, when I look back at the pictures, I don’t see them as statues. To me it’s more like living art.”

In one shot, taken outside of the Jacksonville Public Library, a gold key with the Greek letters Alpha and Omega on it hangs over a statue of an owl perched on a golden book with a keyhole on the front.

“To me, the owl represents Athena, the Greek goddess for wisdom, and the book and the key up here, the alpha and omega, is to unlock knowledge,” he said. “That’s what I got from it.”

The rest of the image is black and white — Willett’s palette of choice. He sometimes uses his camera’s color accent setting to highlight specific objects in the frame, but his photos are otherwise unedited, he said.

Through the Lens exhibition

What: architecture and landscape photographs by Ryan Willett
When: Opening reception 5:30-7:30 p.m. Thursday, June 7; exhibition runs June 7-29
Where: Hinesville Area Arts Council, 102 Commerce Street

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