BARNEGAT, NJ – Many modern day photographers find software applications as advantageous in enhancing their work. However, Barnegat resident, Greg Cummings relies on something quite simple. It’s what he sees in his Canon viewfinder that captures images telling a story of their own.
Cummings sports a curly grey ponytail, trimmed beard, and looks every part of an artist. Meanwhile, he has no formal training in either art or photography. Cummings is proof that a good eye and a sense of creativity can lead to some rather compelling work.
For years, Cummings travelled the world as a sales, marketing and advertising representative in the sporting goods industry. As he took breaks in between trade shows, Cummings took advantage of the time to shoot the local scenes. His collection includes landscapes in places like Utah’s Zion National Park, and locations in England and Germany.
“I started out just taking pictures,” said Cummings. “I began with film and slides and eventually moved onto digital.”
When Arlene Ballaker, his partner of thirty years ago decided to buy a home in the Mirage, Cummings moved with her. Both relocated to Barnegat eight years ago from Union County.
Over the years, Cummings’ work has made it on display in several shows. Cummings also won a number of awards in both New Jersey and Rhode Island. One of his photographs is featured in a coffee table book published by the Asbury Park Press and called “The Real Jersey Shore.”
“They used my picture of blue beach cruiser bicycles, “said Cummings. “Over 30,000 photographs were submitted. Mine is one of 300 photographs selected for the book.”
Locally, Cummings work has been on exhibition twice in the Barnegat Library. One year, the Township’s municipal calendar featured “Then and Now” pictures. It matched up historic photos with newer images Cummings took of the same sights.
Other local shots include winter at Cloverdale Farms, as well as photographs of mass destruction post-Sandy. In contrast, a sunrise taken from the Sands Point dock in Waretown over Oyster Creek paints a spectacular view of serenity.
“I prefer to photograph anything out of the ordinary,” added Cummings. “I sometimes get caught up in themes.”
One series of Cummings’ work focuses on car details with a concentration on hoods. It’s nearly impossible to recognize the origination of the images unless they’re pointed out. Another on reflections captures amazing effects, such as one that shows a mirror image of a tree overlooking a creek.
People are absent in most of Cumming’s photographs. “I’m not good at portrait work,” he claimed. “I think part of it is I feel like it's infringing on people’s space when you take pictures of them. That’s particularly true when you go to take close-ups.”
Nevertheless, one of Cummings’ favorite images has quite a bit to do with people and emotions. Cummings shot the picture at the viewing stand of a St. Patrick’s Day Parade along New York’s Fifth Avenue.
A uniformed firefighter stands to the left of the photograph, using a cane to maintain his balance. A woman stands a few feet away with a wheelchair.
“The man was the Grand Marshall,” explained Cummings. “He was injured in 9/11. They weren’t sure he was going to be able to walk the entire length of the parade. They had a wheelchair in case he couldn’t make it.”
In the background, New York City firefighters carry 343 American flags, one for each firefighter who died at the World Trade Center. “I literally had goosebumps as they marched up Fifth Avenue,” said Cummings.
Meanwhile, Greg Cummings isn’t just a photographer. It turns out he knows a bit more about the legend of the Barnegat rocks. However, that’s a story for another day.
Stephanie A. Faughnan is a local journalist and Director of Writefully Inspired, a professional writing and resume service. Feel free to contact her at email@example.com.