The great thing about social media is it can introduce you to a few of your favorite things! That’s what happened to me several years ago when I came upon a Michael Blanchard photograph on Facebook. I’ve been a fan ever since!
Michael lives and works in Maine and makes trips to Martha’s Vineyard almost every weekend. He wakes up before the crack of dawn and in the solitude and the solstice of early morning sunrise and sunsets makes photographs that have become to known as inspirational photographs. You see, many take a photograph, but Michael has a way of creating images that evoke something inside yourself. That’s why he has over 43,000 people follow him on Facebook.
Michael’s first camera was a Polaroid camera he received as a teenager. But it wasn’t until the age of 54 that he found his interest in photography. He recalls the first successful long exposure shot of Lucy Vincent. He sat quietly for an hour after that and felt so connected. That’s when he knew photography would be an important part of his life. The camera became a means of being quiet and reflective. It got him out of the house and on the beaches and he found a lost spirituality.
Why Martha’s Vineyard
It was a sailboat trip to MV that would change Michael’s life! Once there he had the immediate, explainable desire to stay. A few years later, he married a woman who had a home on the island. That is what we like to call Serendipity! Michael has openly discussed in an open forum his ongoing recovery from the disease of alcoholism and the pain of his subsequent divorce from his wife. The island of Martha’s Vineyard and the art of photography helped to heal him.
3 Favorite Places
Lucy Vincent Beach, Moshup Beach and Menemsha are his three favorite places on the island. Being a big Jaws fan, he can see Hooper, Quint and Chief Brody heading out to sea to get the shark every time he sees the little fishing shacks in Menemsha.
Sunrise or Sunset
Sunset is the time he loves best to photograph. The colors are different than at sunrise. He finds more interesting shots as evening approaches. But, he does admit some of his best photographs have been taken at sunrise.
Fighting For My Life
“Fighting For My Life” Finding Hope and Serenity on Martha’s Vineyard, is the book that has helped Michael with his demons. He found while displaying his photographs on Facebook for the world to see, people responded to his words from healing from addiction, as much as the photos themselves. The two went hand-in-hand. With a talent to take photographs that people liked and a want and need to share the life changing events. The book served the purpose as a cathartic ” spilling out” of what he went through as a further means of how helping to heal. The book was designed and constructed to help raise money for addiction treatment, and most importantly, to help reduce the shame alcoholics and addicts feel about their disease. He wanted people to see the real and torturous existence of an alcoholic so they could better understand the disease and then use this information to help others who are struggling. He wants those who are struggling to know ” there is no shame as long as you take responsibility for your recovery”.
In May 2016 Michael will release a brand new calendar to help raise money for the Martha’s Vineyard New Path’s Addiction Treatment Program and to increase awareness that additional resources are needed to fight the disease of addiction. Some of his stories and poetry and words of wisdom will be included to help those who need a boost of “hope”. Thousands of his Facebook fans helped vote to choose the photos that will be in the calendar. It will be available through his website, several other websites as well as stores all over Martha’s Vineyard. The proceeds after costs will go to the New Paths Program.
Ansel Adams inspires Michael more for what he said “photographs are made not taken” . Adams would work in the darkroom for hours working to get the contrast right on a print.I In Michael’s case, editing photos is his creative escape. Adams is his hero for “allowing” him to edit and experience the joy of creating something that is “him” and beautiful from the raw material generated by the camera.
3 Things You Should Know
- The Camera is his means of connecting to whatever spirituality or divine energy that exists in the world. It is important in keeping him grounded and in the moment.
- The editing of photos is a means of creative expression he never had and allows him to channel feelings and emotions that would otherwise stay bottled up inside.
- Photography is the window to the soul. He plans on using imagery and cameras to help teenagers heal from addictions to drugs and alcohol. People can literally express themselves in the photos they choose to take.
Michael Blanchard Inspirational Photography
On Island, you can find his work at Kennedy Studios in Vineyard Haven and Kelly House Gallery in Edgartown. This Summer his art will be displayed at a number of Black Dog stores throughout New England.