When Tony Weeg focuses on a subject with a camera, it’s to capture the curve of a natural smile, integral beauty of an expectant mother, inquisitiveness of a baby.
Sometimes he hands a grown man a hula hoop, and after hearing a mumbled, “What’s this for?” he sees the laugh of unblemished childhood.
The Salisbury photographer recently opened a studio on the Downtown Plaza, a 1,300-square-foot expanse with a huge window that allows the natural light he loves and 50-foot wall to display works by local artists.
Weeg dove into photography full time after spending 20 years in the world of Web navigation. He sold his business, Navtrak Inc., to concentrate on his artistic passion and feels like he’s now in retirement, not laboring.
“When you photograph people, you get to show them how beautiful they are. Every one I’ve taken, in their own way, is absolutely beautiful,” he said.
Among his specialties are portraits, wedding pictures and maternity shots. Often, they are presented in the simplicity of black and white, “my favorite thing to do,” he said because, “you get to play with the light.”
On his www.beautiful.camera Web site, he describes himself as a “non-standard photographer.”
“Posing is beautiful, but beautiful posing is hard. I love to find the best angles and the most amazing light everywhere I can,” he wrote.
That light streams into the new studio from the Plaza. “I wanted to be first, to be first to open a photography studio here. I wanted to bring more culture to our community, to bring more art down here so people have a reason to walk around the plaza,” he said one recent afternoon, as he sat in the studio.
It’s a model for what Salisbury can attract, he said. If he’s photographing a couple, or individual, one morning, and passersby sipping coffee are standing outside watching, the plaza would be like a snapshot of culture-rich New York City.
Weeg has always been interested in photography and still has his father’s original camera.
When he and his wife saw the space downtown was available, he told her, “Babe, I can’t pass that up.” They didn’t.
“She’s amazing. I would be nothing without her,” he said about his wife, as he displayed a photo of her with their two daughters. Sarah is 8 and Isabel is 1. “They have been my muses in the learning process,” Weeg said.
Casual in khaki shorts and a black T-shirt, he spoke with enthusiasm about this week’s 3rd Friday event, which will feature works by local artist Jordan C.K. in his studio.
He’s interested in hosting a skate deck art show, or display of painted skateboards. “We’re getting a lot more eclectic here. I see a wave of it. I can have my nose in the game and I can be heard through my art,” he said.
To excel at photography, he said, unwrapping a lollipop as he took a break, “You have to learn about light and you’ve got to have an eye and you have to be eccentric. I love being eccentric,” he said.
Interestingly, Weeg never studied art or photography and said his formal training amounted to his father showing him that original camera.
“I always said I wanted to be Rick Maloof and as I get older he is who I am becoming,” he said about the well-known Quantico photographer who died in 2010.
“The biggest thing is to stay humble in it,” Weeg said, looking out at the plaza where flowers bloomed in an assortment of colors and a few people walked by.
“I’m just me. Really. I’m just me.”
Reach Susan Canfora at firstname.lastname@example.org.