A great photograph is a full expression of what one feels about what is being photographed in the deepest sense, and is, thereby, a true expression of what one feels about life in its entirety.
— Ansel Adams
The 7,000-acre Mohonk Preserve is a dreamscape for photographers and outdoors enthusiasts, with its waterfalls, carriage roads, cliffs, trails, pitch-pine forests, ponds, lakes, meadows and marshes — all home to an enormous array of wildlife. There is a formidable group of photographers who volunteer their expertise to help capture and catalogue every aspect of the Preserve. The approximately 25 active members are part of the Mohonk Preserve Volunteer Photographers (MPVP).
The chairman of the MPVP is John Hayes, who helped convene a number of his colleagues to share what they do and why they do it with the New Paltz Times. “If the mission of the Preserve, if you could describe it in one word, is ‘protection’ or ‘saving the land for life,’ then the mission of the MPVP is to capture the Preserve visually, and to have those images shared to build awareness of the Preserve and its beautiful mission,” said Hayes. “If the Shawangunks are the crown of Ulster County, then the Preserve is the crown jewel. It’s a feast for the senses.”
The group meets once a month on a Saturday to brainstorm and decide who wants to cover various Preserve events and assignments. “They need a steady supply of seasonal images,” explained Hayes. “So we’re always taking landscape shots throughout the Preserve all year round, as well as capturing people engaging with the land, volunteers on the land, trailkeepers, projects taking place and of course, the wildlife that the Preserve serves as home to.”
The Preserve has put together a large catalogue of archives, but as Hayes pointed out, “They need a fresh flow of visuals for all of their brochures, invites, websites, e-newsletters…”
MPVP member John Mizel also noted that the Preserve Visitor Center now has a large-scale model of the entire Preserve where you can touch a screen and get visuals of what you might see at Duck Pond, Split Rock, Undercliff/Overcliff, et cetera. “That requires a lot of images as well,” he said.