Black Glass Gallery
Share the Beauty of Nature through the Lens of Black Glass Gallery
By Elana Knopp
Suzanne Spitaletta believes that her photography helps set the tone for a life of happiness and serenity, and the Asbury Park resident has taken her passion for photography and created the Black Glass Gallery, a social media-based photography community that gathers weekly for meet-ups at locations that offer inspiring settings.
The 120-member diverse group-- made up of varying levels of photography experience--showcases their work on both Instagram and Facebook, and the gallery now has thousands of fans and followers.
The group has shot at a variety of places, including beaches along the Jersey Shore, historic sites such as Washington Crossing and Batsto Village, abandoned psychiatric hospitals and prisons, such as Eastern State Penitentiary and the immigrant hospital at Ellis Island, junkyards, the SteelStacks concert venue in Bethlehem, PA, the abandoned Lansdowne Theater and parks such as Brooklyn Bridge Park, Fort Lee Historic Park, Cheesequake Park, and Fort Hancock at Sandy Hook.
Black Glass Gallery Members
Quistgaard, group member
Spitaletta was also able to arrange a private outing for the group to tour Asbury Park’s Convention Hall in its entirety, from the tunnels to the roof.
Spitaletta told JerseyShoreVibe that while recuperating from some health issues years ago, she started to heal by walking the Asbury Park boardwalk each day.
“I would snap a shot along the way to document my progress,” Spitaletta said. “I started posting these shots on Instagram and from there, I began to develop a passion for photography. I was thankful for every morning I was able to wake up and enjoy life that I would watch the sunrise every morning. Every day is a special gift; I have been watching the sunrise for approximately three years. I am thankful for every morning and a chance at another day. I love life and am grateful to live a block from the beach. My photography is my connection with nature and its healing abilities. I believe starting my day this way sets the tone for my day and gives me an overall happiness and peacefulness that I carry with me all day.”
Spitaletta said that she would get together each week at a gallery with a small group of photographers.
“We would talk photography and exchange ideas,” she said. “When the gallery closed, we all wanted to be able to still get together and I came up with the idea of shooting at a different location every week since photography was our bond anyway, we may as well do that together.”
Photo Credit-Suzanne Spitaletta
According to Spitaletta, she started to organize places for the group to go, mainly to shoot the sunset during the week.
“As more people started to join us, I moved our outings to the weekends, and started to come up with places all over New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania,” Spitaletta said. “The photographers in the group range from cell phone photographers to hobbyists, to professionals, to instructors. It is such a diverse group of people. I am amazed at how different we all are, yet everyone gets along and is supportive of each other. We all encourage each other and love to see each other's work.”
Spitaletta said that group members help each other with everything from questions on editing and settings, to which camera they should buy. Group members also post their questions on Facebook, and members chime in with help and advice.
“The friendships that have formed in the group mean more to me than anything,” Spitaletta said. “I love seeing people from the group who may not have known each other otherwise, get together to shoot or hang out outside from our outings. The photography skills of the members are least important to me--friendships and support are most--but amazingly enough, this group has truly talented photographers. It is incredible to see the different perspectives they all have from an area we all just shot. The talent in the group inspires everyone to keep growing in their own photography and we inspire one another to keep going out and shooting. This is a very active group. Together or alone, we are always out enjoying our passion.”
Photo Credit-Suzanne Spitaletta
Spitaletta said that her favorite time to shoot is from dawn to sunrise.
“I find people on the beach are friendliest when taking their morning walks or when shooting in the morning, and I have met so many people and made lasting friendships from my early outings,” she said. “I also love cloudy, gloomy and foggy days. There is something about shooting in the fog I really love. There is beauty and mystery in the fog.”
And although Asbury Park is most popular during the summer season, Spitaletta said that winter is her favorite season in the world-famous beach city.
“I love winter,” she said. “It is my favorite season and find it the best time to shoot sunrises. I am at my happiest during a cold winter walk on a quiet desolate beach. I love meeting fellow photographers while shooting, but also treasure those quiet moments to myself.”
Spitaletta said that it is her connection with nature that inspires her art form.
“The desire to create and share the beauty of nature with others,” she said. “I hope to inspire others to take time to notice nature and to wake up a little earlier to experience a sunrise. I do also enjoy shooting abandoned places and whatever else catches my eye. Landscapes are always my favorite, though. Some of my black and white fog pictures are some of my favorites, and of course, colorful skies before sunrises are always fun to shoot.”
According to Spitaletta, she has organized many exhibits for the group.
“All their work from outings are usually shown digitally on the website and social media, and I wanted a chance for them to show their work printed,” she said.
Past exhibit venues include the Iron Room in Atlantic City, and the group has been doing monthly exhibits at the Lentil Tree restaurant in Asbury Park. In addition, other exhibits are in the works.
The group is constantly growing, said Spitaletta, and now has a waiting list.
“I ask that anyone who wants to join send me an email with some info about themselves and their photography and why they want to be a part of this community,” Spitaletta said. “I have a closed group on Facebook that we constantly communicate through. We exchange ideas, ask for critique, show our work, support each other, and share laughs on the page.”
For more information please visit the Black Glass Gallery online at http://www.blackglassgallery.com,
on Facebook and Instagram or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.