Meriden’s Y’s Men:  “Thrills and Spills in a Lifetime of Photography”

Meriden’s Y’s Men:  “Thrills and Spills in a Lifetime of Photography”

“To take a really good picture, it has to move you from within.” So stated professional photographer Ray Gawlak on Dec. 11 as he presented to 60 Y’s Men of Meriden a narrated slide show of his 128 favorite images, selected from a lifetime of photography.


Gawlak’s interest began in seventh grade and he soon found himself using borrowed cameras to practice the art. During the past 50 years of his career, he adjusted to the transition from manual to digital photography and has especially enjoyed utilizing digital software that allows a photo to be reimaged as a painting. His pursuit of intriguing subjects has carried him to numerous foreign countries, as well as throughout America.


Images included vineyards in Italy, along with rustic scenes and portraits of the hardy local folk in Iceland. Travel to Poland permitted stunning portraits of the native people, including a woman weaving at a multicolored loom and weather-worn faces of farmers. A humorous shot displayed his car stuck in the sand; shortly thereafter, a Polish Army truck fortuitously came along and stopped, with soldiers piling out and simply lifting his car back onto the highway. A sojourn to New Zealand resulted in dramatic photos of flowers, sunsets, seashores, mountains, glaciers, rainbows, an action image of a windsurfer with a billowing sail, and a Maori tribesman with striking facial tattoos.


High-quality telephoto lenses allowed close-up action photos of sports events including football played by both local Meriden and professional teams as well as motorcycle racing. And another series of photos provided imagery from France, including striking views of Normandy and impressionist Claude Monet’s home, plus an eye-catching image of a beggar with his two loyal dogs.  A 2017 trip to Ecuador resulted in images of street musicians, artists, colorful graffiti, street vendors, imposing Andes peaks, and a charming shot a young boy chasing pigeons in a town square.


Earlier this year, Gawlak made himself available to provide free portraits of veterans (and spouses) and the Y’s Men viewed several of these, including two of their own members. And as he noted, “for portraits, the most important feature is the eyes.”


Retired or semi-retired men from Meriden or surrounding communities, interested in attending a Y’s Men of Meriden meeting, are invited to call 203-238-7784 or visit the website.


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