Local teacher and Danvers resident Greg West is taking senior pictures to a whole new level.
After thirty years of teaching, West has decided to begin a professional photography career specializing in storybook Photos. According to West a big trend in the world of photography is to chronicle the life of a subject, rather than catch just a glimpse. This is becoming extremely popular, especially with the younger set when it comes to senior portraits.
So what exactly is a storybook photo?
“This is a much more creative approach to the standard senior picture. What I do is take a collection of photographs over time, usually a couple days, to capture the person in their own environment and create stories that really tell about them,” he explained. By incorporating scenes which include the child in their school sports uniform, or playing their instrument, West is able to provide a more well rounded interpretation of his subjects, rather than a one dimensional view. “Senior portraits don’t have to be mugshots,” he said.
His clients seem to really enjoy the process, too. From the on-set make-up artist to the professional feeling modeling shoot, West professes that his sittings are a unique experience. “For instance,” he said. “I had a theater student, so I took pictures of her getting her make-up done, and then laying down while looking over a script. It’s a great way to show who they are, not just what they look like.”
It may seem like an unlikely pursuit given that for the past thirty or so years West has spent his days in the classroom as a Health Instructor. Many students will also recognize West as the instructor for Masco’s EMT Program, arming youths with first responder training to help them in their future endeavors in the medical or emergency services fields.
So why the leap towards photography?
West explained, “I have been interested in photography since elementary school when my dad gave me my first film camera, and in high school and college I took art, although I can’t draw anything, but it’s always been a hobby." As an amateur wedding photographer in college, West became hooked, especially with the introduction to digital photography and it's associated software.
After moving to Danvers two years ago and building a studio above his Locust Street garage, West’s passion has become a reality and the calls have been pouring in. “I offer a range of services, from the basic shoot, up to the point where we have a make-up artist who is brilliant, who comes in and creates amazing looks, girls really enjoy that service, it’s a lot of fun."
The exciting thing for West are the countless opportunities for his photographs to be presented, as coffee table hard cover books, or as featured art in the home. “Senior and family portraits don’t have to be just a few 5x7’s for relatives anymore. We can have a different approach to it where the person will think, ‘this will be hanging over my fireplace.’ That’s what its all about."
In addition to family and senior portraits and the storybook photos, West is also trying to diversify his services by offering educational programs and photography DSLR classes to help people organize their digital records and pictures. But his passion lies in creating one-of-a-kind experiences. “I love to capture each one and get a really good picture-I hope to be able to do this after retirement,” said West.