Anita Kroian has loved photography since she was 10 years old. At her childhood home she would take her camera, dash out to the house’s porch and snap sunset photographs for hours on end.
“Even back then, it was the nature, the snow, the ice,” Kroian said. “[I was drawn to] all that kind of stuff, even when I was a kid.”
As Kroian grew older, she never stopped participating in her passion, keeping it as a side hobby. She became a hairstylist early on in adulthood while always hoping to get the opportunity to delve further into photography.
Now, at 56 years old, Kroian — who has continued to style hair for over 30 years — has her first photography exhibit on display.
She was named the August Artist of the Month by the Hampton Arts Network and has an exhibit of 10 photographs on display at the Hampton Town Hall, which will be there for viewing until Friday, Sept. 6.
“She’s a nature photographer and I’m a nature nut,” said Julie Martinelli, the secretary of the board of directors for the Hampton Arts Network. “She captures nature’s essence and simplicity.”
Kroian takes many bird and beach photographs, and said that this Hampton exhibit will encompass that.
“I thought that it would be a good place to put my bird photos,” Kroian said. “I love to take bird photos and I didn’t really have anywhere to sell them … and I thought, the people, they’re just town people doing their business, and they might like them. A lot of people like birds and I thought that it might catch their eye.”
Kroian sold her photography for the first time around a year ago to a beachside shop in Charlestown, Rhode Island, where she lives for the majority of the year. These were mostly beach photographs, and the owner of the shop thought they would sell well in his beach-themed store.
“He really, really loved my photos and that got me very excited because it wasn’t my family telling me anymore, it was actually someone who owned a store,” Kroian said. “So that was very, very exciting for me.”
Kroian said her family and friends have been encouraging her to sell her photographs all her life but up until a year ago she had never made it happen. With these newfound accomplishments Kroian hopes she’ll eventually be able to solely focus on photography.
“That’s kind of my wish, that I could do photography full-time and not cut hair anymore, but right now that’s what pays my bills,” she said. “Maybe someday when I am not cutting hair, I can really get out there and take a lot more photos. For right now it’s just a hobby and I just enjoy doing it so I’ll keep doing what I’m doing.”
Although Kroian lives in Rhode Island, she spends part of her summers at a cottage she has in Hampton. This seasonal home has given her the opportunity to join the Hampton Arts Network and sell her photography at their summer gallery on Ocean Boulevard.
Through this connection, she was able to secure her spot as the Hampton Arts Network’s August Artist of the Month. She said that Linda Gebhart reached out to her about two months ago with openings for Artist of the Month.
Seizing the opportunity, Kroian informed Gebhart she was interested, soon cementing her place as August’s artist.
Within Kroian’s passion for photography is a love of nature and ambition to do her best to capture it. While Kroian said she doesn’t have any overt influences from other photographers, she uses photography to satiate a desire for the natural beauty of our planet and to then share this experience with others through her photographs.
“I like my photos to … [make people] feel like they’re there,” Kroian said. “I like them to take people places. That’s what I try to look at when I’m taking photos. I try to make it so people can imagine themselves there.”
Kroian said photography is her go-to means of creative expression because of its interpretive nature for both the photographer and the viewer.
“I think it’s how creative you can be with it and it’s all in the eye of the beholder, which is … kind of nice,” she said. “Because 10 people can take pictures of the same thing but they’ll all look a little bit different. Everyone will focus in on something different. I just like how unique you can be with it.”
Kroian’s work is on display now through Friday, Sept. 6, at the Hampton Town Hall.
The public is welcome to view her photography during normal business hours. Visit the Hampton Arts Network’s Facebook page for more information.
— Caleb Jagoda