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Matinee: 'Nina Fuller, Photographer' Share This on LinkedIn   Tweet This   Forward This

18 May 2019

Saturday matinees long ago let us escape from the ordinary world to the island of the Swiss Family Robinson or the mutinous decks of the Bounty. Why not, we thought, escape the usual fare here with Saturday matinees of our favorite photography films?

So we're pleased to present the 202nd in our series of Saturday matinees today: Nina Fuller, Photographer.

We almost hate to say anything until you've seen the whole 8:36 video by Portland Art Gallery. Nina Fuller is delightful from the first frame as she calls for one of her dogs that has run off in the snow. And for the rest of the video you sit with her at the kitchen table as she talks about being a photographer over shots of her stills and video of her working.

It could not be more down home.

What you won't learn about this unassuming Maine photographer (whose father had to reassure her she was an artist and not to worry about money), is that she's been at it for 40 years starting with the Portland Press Herald where she was one of its first female photojournalists.

She started shooting their portraits from the start, partly as a way of documenting what was going on at the farm.

What you also won't learn is that after founding two of Maine's more important alternative publications in the 1970s she toured the world for Land's End and L.L. Bean.

That led to shoots for The New York Times, Boston Globe and National Geographic, among others when she photographed Barack Obama, Michelle Obama, Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, George and Barbara Bush, and George W. and Laura Bush.

She does sayd but doesn't dwell on it, that 20 years ago, after growing up on a farm, she bought Lily Brook Farm in Hollis, Me. But you won't know that at the youthful age of 60 went back to school for her master's degree in counseling, concentrating on equine-assisted photography therapy.

She glosses over that at the kitchen table, but she still can't get over the Scottish Blackface sheep she acquired in 2011. They're intelligent, she says. They recognize faces. And they are great mothers, she adds.

She started shooting their portraits from the start, partly as a way of documenting what was going on at the farm. What was going on what that of the 12 sheep she'd agreed to take on, nine were pregnant and started having babies in two weeks.

She laughs about it (that breed is much in demand, it turns out) but if there were ever such a thing as a sheep portrait, Nina Fuller would be its Yousuf Karsh.

But there, we've gone and said too much already.


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