Personal Photography Project: Mr. Gray’s Repair Shop

The moment Mrs. Gray led me into the basement to discuss repairing my son’s clarinet, I knew I had the perfect subject for my personal photography project — Mr. Gray and his workshop.

Mr. Gray is the go-to repair person for musical instruments in Loudoun County. He’s a former music instructor at Sterling Middle school, with a strong voice that belies his twinkling eyes.

I’ve been working on a personal photography project of photographing people doing things they love.  There was something about the master-craftsman nature of Mr. Gray’s work that really drew me in.

His workshop is packed with the tools of his trade, and instruments of all sizes waiting for their turn to be repaired. As a music instructor, it was easier for him to just learn to make a few repairs to student instruments rather than have the student send the instrument out to be repaired. One thing led to another, and now he owns practically every tool and gadget there is to repair every brass and woodwind instrument.

I’ve lived in northern Virginia all my life (minus a few years when I worked for Price Waterhouse and went to grad school at Harvard).  And as a witness to the transformation of the sleepy neighborhoods of my childhood into the modern densely packed fast-growing suburbs of today, I am very nostalgic for small, locally owned businesses like Mr. Gray’s.

Mr. Gray’s workshop says volumes about the depth of his expertise and talent, and his personality is perfectly matched.   As I photographed him for my personal photography project, I felt I could create an award winning portrait out of his story.

So I submitted his image to the Professional Photographers of America’s International Portrait Competition, and I’m happy to report that the image received a merit!

Here is the same image in color. Which do you like better?

I think it is so important for professional photographers to have a personal photography project to keep up their creativity and passion for the work.

My photography project is ongoing – I want to photograph people and their passions. I’m looking for a couple more models to photograph this year. These sessions are free in exchange for a signed model release.  So if you have a passion for something like music or dance or yoga or art, etc…, and enjoy being photographed, please get in touch!