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A Long Lens

Photographer Jaime Lopez captures the innate beauty of the East End

For photographer Jaime Lopez who grew up in Peru and has traveled the world during his successful fashion photography career, Sagaponack remains the nearest and dearest to his heart. Lopez met his wife Marilyn Clark, a real estate agent, when he was photographing her as a model. Her family was from the East End so after years in New York and Europe they returned to Sagaponack to raise their family. Lopez says, “Every time we came back here it was a place of peace. With the farming and the beaches, it’s one of the most beautiful places I have ever been, and I feel so lucky to live here.” With young children it was easy to trade asphalt and skyscrapers for fox-filled fields and ocean swims. The Little Red School House became home to four grades of learning, community and even potato sack racing for parents.

Montauk Warhol Cliff

Lopez thus has a long lens, literally and figuratively on what he calls, “a balanced landscape easy to integrate as a human being.” While capturing its innate beauty he also recognizes its fragility. “I wanted to have a conversation with myself about what would happen if we are not aware of changes to our environment, to this natural beauty.” By manipulating the colors in the photographs to be “almost ominous” and playing with the negatives the way one would in a traditional darkroom, he reveals the vulnerability of a future where we do not protect nature. 

Capturing the local character while it is still here is also a goal of Lopez and his vivid photographs place you firmly in place and time. While he still produces fine prints on paper he is also enamored of printing on aluminum. “I love aluminum, first how the image looks throughout the day as the light changes in the room where you hang it. It adds another dimension, especially on brushed aluminum. It reflects light differently. It looks almost like 3D.” Then there is the environmental-friendly aspect of using a product created by recycling. And finally, the durability. “It’s archival. It won’t corrode. I work with a company in Germany who are so prolific in their printing. They explain these prints can withstand heat, cold, soot, sun and rain.” And in an absolutely genius interior design move Lopez says, “I even use the prints as a splash board above the sink or stove. I splash it with tomato sauce and soap and dirty dishes and I just wipe them clean.”

With a new studio in Sagaponack and a desire to give back to the community, Lopez talked with Coco Myers and started shooting a series of portraits of locals. He approached farmers but found, unfortunately, no willing subjects. Artists, however were quite eager. He first photographed them in his studio then captured them in their own environment. Liberated from the pressures of high-end fashion photography he worked without internet, an assistant or hair and make-up. “I have gone back to the pure essence of photography, and I enjoy it so much. I don’t have 7,000 emails telling me what to do. With the local artists we play and have fun and we get results that look so authentic because they are authentic. You don’t get that when you are photographing a model.” 

Jaime Lopez

The result has been a book Hamptons Artists: The Current Wave – 48 Artists Making Their Mark on the East End with another edition on the way. “This is a journalistic responsibility to witness who was here during our times and leave it as a legacy for the next generation.” The same can be said of his exquisitely captured landscapes. Lopez often describes his images as a gift to the camera and to him. But they are clearly also a gift to the community around him.