BY CADY KUZMICH
Vischer Ferry — While on a bike ride years ago, Joseph Vinciquerra decided to turn down Riverview Road in Rexford, New York. It was on this day that he first laid eyes on Vischer Ferry – a hamlet he would one day call home. While Vinciquerra, a native of Syracuse, left the Capital Region in 2010 to pursue work elsewhere, he returned with his family three years later and bought a home in Vischer Ferry. The area, specifically the Vischer Ferry Preserve, serves as a constant source of inspiration for the aspiring photographer.
When he’s not working with GE Global Research in Niskayuna, Vinciquerra is likely training for a marathon, spending time with his kids or wandering through the Vischer Ferry Preserve scouting out his next photograph.
Q & A with Vinciquerra:
CK: How did you first get involved in the world of art?
JV: I grew up in a household that was filled with art, and I knew from a very young age that I wanted art to be a major part of my life. My father was (and remains to this day) a very talented artist. As a child, I would watch him craft stained glass pieces and make paintings, many of which decorated our home. Like me, art was not his profession, but a passion he somehow fit between the busy hours of his professional career.
CK: Did you study photography in school?
JV: I was preparing to go to art school from around the time of seventh grade. I had tried photography but didn’t understand it. I couldn’t yet appreciate the skill of capturing images, and I was completely bored in the darkroom. Throughout high school, I focused on drawing and painting; I had assembled a portfolio of work and had applied to a number of colleges to study Fine Arts. But at the eleventh hour, my guidance counselor convinced me to instead exercise my strengths in math and science and apply to an engineering school. To this day I remember her words: “you can always do art as a hobby.” For the record, she was right.
CK: Where’d you go to school? What did you study?
JV: I went to school at Syracuse University where I received a Bachelor’s in Aerospace Engineering and a Master’s in Mechanical Engineering. Later on, during the early part of my professional career, I also received a Master’s degree from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Management.
CK: Do you photograph professionally or do you have another job? If so, what’s it like to balance those two different worlds?
JV: I do not photograph professionally, though I have recently begun selling prints of my photographs. I am also working on a coffee table book project that I may one day market for sale. Professionally, I work with an incredible group of people at the GE Global Research Center in Niskayuna. I would say the fact that photography and my career are two very distinctly different worlds is what keeps them in balance – it never feels like a task to do both in a given week.
CK: Are you mainly into photography or do you dabble in other areas like painting or music as well?
JV: While I deeply appreciate all forms of visual art, and love music, photography is truly my sole artistic endeavor these days. Part of it, I think, is because photography has become so technology-centered with the advent of digital, that it feels like a very natural art form to me, now, as someone working professionally in the technology industry.
CK: Have you always lived in the Clifton Park area? Can you tell me a bit about your family?
JV: I grew up in Syracuse, New York, and met my wife-to-be in graduate school at Syracuse University. Together, we moved to Connecticut for a few years before arriving in the Capital Region in 2004. Literally, the first week we lived here, I took a bike ride out to Riverview Road and stumbled upon the Vischer Ferry area. I fell in love with it, and visited it frequently in the years that followed. In 2010, our careers took us away from Albany… but we couldn’t stay away. We returned in 2013, with our two sons, and bought a home in Vischer Ferry.
CK: Do you remember a moment or period of your life when your photography really matured or became what you wanted it to be?
JV: I didn’t really start concentrating on photography until 2010 and, after a year of shooting, processing the images on the computer, evaluating them with friends and other photographers, I thought I was making some fairly good pictures. One year later, I looked back on those images with complete disappointment. The same thing happened the year after that! But then, in 2013, things changed. In that year, I had much more consistency in my photographs. I saw in my own work a more selective set of pictures; pictures that were more thoughtfully composed; pictures that relayed a mood or told stories on their own, without words needed to accompany them. For me, that was a breakthrough. Now, every time I press the shutter release, I try to get one of those pictures.
CK: What is your favorite subject to photograph?
JV: My favorite subjects to photograph are landscape and nature scenes. I am someone who is completely energized and inspired by the outdoors, and working with my camera to try and portray those feelings in a photograph is endlessly rewarding for me. With that being said, I absolutely love street photography (defined as photography that features the chance encounters and random accidents within public places) and am increasingly testing my own skills in this area.
CK: What is your favorite camera to use?
JV: They say the best camera is the one you have with you, and I couldn’t agree more! I love the fact that my iPhone is always with me and I use it a tremendous lot to snap photos while on the go. Yet, there’s nothing like a proper camera. For the work I share and print, I shoot almost exclusively with Nikon DSLRs and Nikkor lenses.
CK: If you could shoot anything (if travel expenses and time weren’t issues) what would you photograph?
JV: Honestly, I love the challenge of finding something to photograph in any situation. I have a virtually unending list of places I’d like to go with my camera, from Iceland, to Cuba, to Japan, but some of my favorite pictures I’ve taken have been shot in the most uninteresting of places!
CK: Have you connected with other artists in the area? Southern Saratoga Artists Society?
JV: I’ve just begun to do so and I look forward to getting further involved. On a related note, the Vischer Ferry General Store recently opened – which is just an outstanding establishment – and it has already helped bring together local artists from around Clifton Park all the way down through the Hudson Valley simply via Facebook and Instagram. We are lucky to live in such a creative community!
CK: If you had an extra hour in the day, what would you do?
JV: That’s easy: I would spend it with my family. Okay, I would also bring my camera along…
CK: Any interesting hobbies you’d like to share?
JV: I am an endurance sport fanatic. I was a competitive road cyclist for a long time and an Ironman triathlete. These days, I’m a pure distance runner. Right now, I’m preparing to run the Boston Marathon in April.
CK: Who or what has had the greatest influence on your work?
JV: There is one photographer today that I think stands above them all, and that is Jay Maisel. Every photograph is absolute perfection. His work has not only influenced the way in which I try to capture my own images, but it has changed the way I look at the world around me, even when I’m not holding a camera.
CK: You display and sell your work on a website called Cherry Fivers. Why did you choose that name?
JV: I wanted to separate my art from my profession (especially online), so I needed a name for my photography side project. I wanted it to have something to do with Vischer Ferry, but I also didn’t want to use the actual town name, since that was a little too obvious and I’m sure there are probably some rules around that! So, I came up with “Cherry Fivers” which is a good conversation starter; it is an anagram of Vischer Ferry.