About Me

My photo
Spofford, New Hampshire, United States
Jeff Newcomer has been a physician practicing in New Hampshire and Vermont for over 30 years. Over that time, as a member of the Conservation Commission in his home of Chesterfield New Hampshire, he has used his photography to promote the protection and appreciation of the town's wild lands. In recent years he has been transitioning his focus from medicine to photography, writing and teaching. Jeff enjoys photographing throughout New England, but has concentrated on the Monadnock Region and southern Vermont and has had a long term artistic relationship with Mount Monadnock. He is a featured artist in a number of local galleries and his work is often seen in regional print, web publications and in business installations throughout the country. For years Jeff has published a calendar celebrating the beauty of The New England country-side in all seasons. All of the proceeds from his New England Reflections Calendar have gone to support the Pulmonary Rehabilitation Program at the Cheshire Medical Center. Jeff has a strong commitment to sharing his excitement about the special beauty of our region and publishes a weekly blog about photography in New England.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Why I Photograph

Why do I keep coming back to New England photography. Why do I get up early, endure the bitter, finger numbing, winter cold, wade in fringed water and spend hours wandering rutted back roads? It's a valid question.

Rye Beach Ranbow
Ewing Arts Awards
Recently I was honored to be named one of the recipients of the first James and Ruth Ewing Arts Awards. The Awards are sponsored by the Keene Sentinel and Arts Alive and recognize local artists who, "through their work define excellence". Needless to say I am thrilled to be considered among the first recipients of this award. There is so much incredible creativity in the Monadnock region and it is wonderful that I was thought worthy to be among such company. But there was a problem, 

The Question.

Numb Fingers

THE Question

Michael Moore, Dedication
Photographers hate to be placed in the spotlight. We love to hide behind the camera, and so, over the last week, it was with considerable trepidation that I was subjected to an
interview and photo shoot for the special magazine that will be published to acknowledge the Ewing Award recipients. Additionally I endured a video interview to be shown at the Awards event on July 23rd.

Except for the fact that I was the reluctant subject, the photo shoot was surprisingly enjoyable. Sentinel photographer Michael Moore and I got to stand in the rushing water of Wilde Brook at Chesterfield Gorge. I was shooting him while he was shooting me, and, while we both struggled to avoid being washed down stream. The problem came with the interviews and especially the recurrent question, "Why do you photograph?". Terry Williams and Cecily Weisburgh were relaxed and professional inquisitors. They both gave me every opportunity to sound accomplished and intelligent, but I stumbled through various awkward explanations of why I do what I do. I'm terrified to see how it comes out in print and video.

Its not a question that I have spent much time considering or trying to put into words, but all my fumbling attempts at an explanation caused me to ask the question of myself. So here is an attempt to express some of my reasons for continuing to try to capture the New England experience in photographs. Hopefully it will come across more coherently than from my jittery interviews. I apologize for these personal and blatantly self-indulgent musings. This process of self-examination is obviously a very individual endeavor, but I believe it can be of value to photographers and others involved in artistic expression. Whether or not it is stated formally, an appreciation of what drives us can go far to establish a path that is both successful and fulfilling.

Why Do You Photograph?

I Do it Because I Must

Numbing Cold
Years ago, and without much forethought, I discovered that I needed a creative escape. Medicine is a challenging and rewarding profession, but it is also stressful, and at times both physically and mentally exhausting. Since early in my medical career I found myself searching for decompression through creative outlets. Photography offered such an outlet. My photography evolved over the years in response to specific needs and opportunities. At first I shot to supply the images for the hospital and Chesterfield Conservation Commission web sites and of course to record the growth of my family. As these imperatives melted away, I was finally able to focus my eye on the unique beauty of the New England landscape.

The Empty Chair

Professional photography is both a business and a path of artistic expression. In retirement I have been able to pursue both aspects and although sometimes the business demands can seem excessive, I enjoy working with clients and striving to respond to their needs. I also find special rewards from the opportunity to use my photography to benefit worthy local causes.  Most notably, the sale of my New England Reflections Calendar has supported Cheshire Medical Center's Pulmonary Rehabilitation Program, to which I have a long and personal connection.

But it all comes back to the photography. I can come up with a long list of reasons for my photography, but they all seem to be organized around two essential joys:
Being there and Sharing

Two Essential Joys

1) Being There

Chesterfield Rainbow
 Photography has provided a reason to explore New England, especially in my home base of the Monadnock Region and Southern Vermont, discovering the beauty and history of the region in all seasons. Photography is about being at the right place at the right time and that has provided me with a sometimes reluctant excuse to make the difficult trip to spots that I might otherwise have never seen. Ungodly hours and miserable weather are the life blood of great images and without photography to push me out of my snug house and warm bed, I would have missed the marvelously dramatic moods of natural New England. For me, everyday of photography is a fresh and exciting treasure hunt. I often start with a vague idea about where I want to go and what I expect to see, but I always come home with images that I never expected. New England has a funny way of dictating the agenda.
Being There,  Last Touch of Alpine Glow


Photography has drawn me out to discover the forests and pastures, the farms and animal of this remarkable area. Once on location the excitement comes from "Working the Scene", finding the best arrangement of light and the physical elements of the location. Trees, hills, barns, silos, clouds, streams and animals are all stirred by the direction and quality of the light to make a balanced and dramatic image and I get to be the cook. Each location provides a set of problems to be solved and it is marvelous when it all comes together.

And Then There is 'OUR' Mountain

First Circumnavigation, 2004
On the day that I decided to take my photography more seriously, my first act was to circumnavigate Mount Monadnock. It was a damp overcast early spring day and there was no foliage on the trees. While Susan was at home playing bridge with her friends, I escaped to the car and headed out on my first adventure. I had no goal other than to drive around the mountain. It was strictly a scouting expedition, but in those few hours of rambling I found countless locations that I knew would be rich sources of beauty in all of our varied seasons and for years to come. I also began to understand that I wanted to focus my attention at home. I didn't need to travel around the world to find remarkable beauty and drama. Instead of being one of millions to capture the Grand Canyon at dawn, I would strive to be one of the best at recording the more subtle, but no less special, beauty of our own corner of New England. 

Monadnock in Infrared

The People

Tom at Roads End Farm
Photography has also given me a pathway to meet the remarkably interesting and varied people who encircle the mountain. I try to approach people on my shoots and they have been nearly uniformly friendly, interested and helpful. As I have returned time and again to favorite locations the locals appreciate that I share their love for the land. Many have become good friends and often are partners in my efforts to capture the beauty. The phone rings and I hear John's breathless voice, "Jeff you better get over here right away, the sunset is going to be amazing !". As I run out of the door, it is then that I realize the rewards of shooting locally.

Glenn Stonewall Farm


2) Sharing the Experience
Prime Roast Show
The second joy comes when I am able to share my experiences in the natural world. As I said in a recent article, the most satisfying compliment that I can receive about my photography comes when someone says,"Your pictures make me feel that I am standing right there in the scene". For me that is the magic and the
Hubbard Falls
art of photography, the ability to transport. Dating back to my first time spent in the inky darkness of the wet darkroom, I have been challenged by the desire to bring images of nature as close as possible to the look and the feel of natural experience. Many photographers are annoyed by every minute they must spend at home editing their images. They say, "I want to be out shooting, not staring at a computer monitor." But I feel that editing is the natural and necessary extension of the careful work that I do in the field. To bring my vision to life, my images deserve my full effort and I enjoy working with the expanded visual canvas that programs like Lightroom and Photoshop provide. 

Monadnock, "Super" Moon Rising

So, why didn't I say something like that in the interviews? Come to think of it, I could have answered the question much more succinctly.

"Why do you photograph?"

"To see and to share"

Now go look at the work. 

Jeffrey Newcomer


  1. Congratulations Jeff. Well deserved!

  2. Well posting . Very impressive to see this guy . well done for shared .