Trager's iconic 'IMAGES' showcased in annual photo exhibit

It was the very picture of a community salute: Internationally acclaimed photographer Philip Trager was the focus of hometown pride Thursday as the Fairfield Museum and History Center opened its annual "IMAGES" photo exhibition.

The opening reception for the IMAGES 2013 juried display drew about 200 people to admire 43 of Trager's striking photographs, the centerpiece of a show that also includes work by 54 professional and amateur photographers.

Trager, 78, whose worldwide reputation reflects the scope of his work, has lived in Fairfield since 1960, but with the exception of a small show in 1993 at Fairfield University, the museum exhibit is the photographer's first in his hometown. The work on display represents both Trager's black-and-white photography, which dominated the earlier part of his career, and more recent color imagery. Themes span from architecture and dance to portraiture, which he calls "faces," to many of his wife.

Trager described how he and Casey Lewis, the museum curator, went about selecting work from his collection of more than 50 years of photography. "It took two or three selection sessions and figuring out how to sequence," he said. "The museum is high caliber and did a terrific job of presenting everything."

The photographer said it was "a good feeling" to exhibit his works in town. "It's home, and convenient to run down and see how things were developing," he said.

Trager said his color photos are a more recent interest. "I've been exploring color only since 2007," he said. "Before that, it was black-and-white going back to 1966. I thought it was time to do it. I didn't find it that difficult.

"My new work is about perception, with mirrors and layered images," he said. "The vast majority features my wife Ina. I photographed her in black-and-white after we were married for 25 years, then started to photograph her in color after we were married for 50 years -- so from 1982-84 and 2007-12. You could say I'm preserving our relationship in a way, fixing it in images."

On the evolution of his photographic career, Trager said, "When I started, it was virtually impossible to make a living as a fine art photographer," he said. "Only in the last decade or two could you do it. I did work at two other pursuits over the years, but solely as a photographer over the last 19 years. It's been liberating. I do it to do it and enjoy the making of the photograph."

Lewis spoke about the experience of working with Trager. "It was wonderful and a great learning opportunity for me as I've only worked with historical subject matter in the past," she said.

Michael Jehle, the museum executive director, said, "I'm really pleased at how significant the Images show has become," he said. "It is not only a big event for the museum, but an opportunity for regular artists to get their work seen and build their portfolios."

Judges for the work by other photographers included in the IMAGES 2013 show include Bruce Dunbar, Mark Edwards, Jill Deupi, Thomas Mezzanotte and Mark Scalese. The photos selected were from among 1,000 submitted for the exhibition.

For more information, check the website of the Fairfield Museum and History Center at