LIFE ALONG THE HUDSON
Story and Photos by Joseph Squillante
y first visit to the Hudson River was in 1975, when a boyhood friend from the Bronx moved to paradise – buying a house on the river in Tivoli. While visiting to help work on his circa 1850s place I fell in love, and the Hudson quickly became my muse. Its majestic qualities swept me up to find powerful pictures right from the outset. Looking at an early photograph titled “Boy Fishing” captured there, I recognized that this was a powerful subject, and it is still offering me great photographic opportunities today more than 40 years after.
Traveling the length of this ancient river, from its source at Lake Tear of the Clouds in the Adirondacks to its mouth at New York Harbor, I have meandered along many of its 316 miles, making pictures and developing my vision and art form all the while.
Like the Hudson landscape painters before me, I am attracted to the beauty and romance of the river, and I believe my black-and-white fine art approach reflects these timeless qualities. I have always preferred showing the natural beauty of the Hudson in hopes of inspiring viewers to protect this important water source and national treasure. My mission quite simply is “to raise awareness of the beauty of the Hudson River through photography.”
My intimacy with the river has led me to locations and perspectives that can be found only through commitment and familiarity. Through these experiences I have gained the trust of those who invite me into their worlds, such as the biologist capturing and banding a bald eagle, a well-known shad fisherman pulling in his catch, the apple farmer atop his tractor in the orchard.
Earning the respect of the Hudson River community, I make my work available to such distinguished organizations that protect the river, including Riverkeeper, Clearwater, and Scenic Hudson who in 2005 recognized me as a “Hudson Valley Hero.”
Like two the master photographers, Andre Kertesz and Edward Weston, who have influenced my work I am able to find the extraordinary in the ordinary. This is realized through the river’s ever-changing silvery light, which is also where I find my infinite.
I always urge people to go to the river with their cameras and shoot in black and white to enhance that one-step-away from reality aspect in which the photograph truly lives.
As our Hudson heals, more people are drawn to visit and live along its shores. We must be smart in the way we grow and develop, with an eye on future generations. We need to live in harmony with our environment and recognize that we the people are just one small part of this glorious planet.
Protecting our land and water is essential in order to preserve a way of life. As photography stops time, it has an inherent ability to preserve a moment for posterity, documenting our traditions and helping to protect our future.
Pictured here are my landscapes, Highlands Nook, White Leaves, Palisade Sky in autumn, Peekskill Bay, the people who made and protected life along the river, and the environmental movement reflected in the Pete Seeger and Storm King Mountain portraits.
Eight of my photographs are now on exhibit in “Hudson Rising” at the New-York Historical Society.