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‘We share our love of Salem and maybe it’s contagious’

From The House of the Seven Gables

Three of Salem’s most “liked” Instagrammers will surely wax poetic about Salem at The House of the Seven Gables on Tuesday, May 25, from 6 to 7 p.m. But unlike poets, they express their affection with imagery. Ty Hapworth, Amelia Kurpeski and Matt Obey will talk about how their love of Salem and photography has made them among Salem’s most influential ambassadors. Thanks to Instagram, the three photographers bring what they love to people around the world.

“A lot of people who see my page aren’t from Salem,” says Instagrammer Matt Obey. “I’m a bit of an ambassador, promoting how amazing Salem is. That’s what everybody on the upcoming virtual panel does. We share our love of Salem and maybe it’s contagious.”

The panel discussion about Instagram posting, the myriad ways to honor Salem via photography and how three inventive photographers see the highly photogenic city is free and open to all. Donations at this difficult time are certainly welcome. Use this link to register and access the Zoom webinar.

Matt Obey started his PurelySalem Instagram page in 2018 after returning from London. “At first I tried to post every day. Now I don’t always post as much. In general, if there’s nothing pretty, I don’t post.” The exception is Halloween, when what is visible isn’t always pretty but it’s almost always interesting. “Most of my fan base is pro-Halloween,” he says. 

Obey’s Instagram page may be anonymous but his personality rings loud and clear. In a recent series of posts, he didn’t just post a beautiful image of an enormous puddle in the middle of an intersection. He posted before and after selfies as he patiently waited for cars to stop driving through the puddle. In the “after” shot, his hair had turned white.

All three Instagrammers respond to “pretty” and all three love to walk or jog around the city. They all pay attention to light, to details and to what they think is unique. All three also like to include some context with their work. Context, be it history or a story about what made the photographer stop and shoot, plays a role in the success of a post.

“I try to write something for people to interact with,” says Obey. “Otherwise it’s just a picture.”

Amelia Kurpeski’s images on Frost_Oath can be pretty but they can also be dark or strange. That’s what she’s after. “I like the pretty pictures — flowers, plants and nature — but I like the darker work, too. Graveyards are huge on my list of what appeals to me.”

Kurpeski is a master of the selfie. She’s always recognizable as herself, but no two selfies are alike. She styles herself and her work to achieve what she’s after. She loves Halloween, when she sees a big boost in her followers. “I love to go to haunted houses, pumpkin patches and Haunted Happenings. Halloween is my time to shine!”

All the same, Salem comes through for her regardless of whether Halloween celebrations are in full swing. “I really enjoy sharing things I find particularly beautiful. Maybe there are people in towns that don’t have really old architecture. I highlight what makes Salem so unique, both the old and the new.”

Ty Hapworth goes out on early morning runs. By early he’s talking 5 a.m. in the summer. “I’ll be looking out my window and see the sun coming up over the Common and that’s always a good motivation to get out there for a run and to take pictures.”

Hapworth is into his second year as a Salem city councilor. “I feel proud to live in Salem and I’m proud of Salem,” he says. “I want people to see what I see when I’m out here. In Salem, there’s so much more than the Witch House.”

He’s also drawn to what’s beautiful, even in the ordinary. “Salem is eight square miles. I look for what’s interesting, for a unique perspective. I like when something feels familiar and strange at the same time.” Hapworth was surprised, he says, to see how much interest people had in his Salem photography. “It gave me a reason to go out and run every morning. I’m forced to stop and take pictures. It’s a nice way to get a break along the way. I’m just trying to get out, move around and get in a couple of miles.”

Hapworth, Kurpeski and Obey expect lots of questions about the more technical aspects of their work at the May 25 panel event. All are invited to submit their questions and take advantage of the photographers’ learned expertise and to sound them out about technique, composition and all things Instagram. 


May is all about May-kers! Follow us on social @creativecollectivema and @creativenorthshore to see member features. If you’re interested in being featured yourself, send Joey Phoenix a note at @joeyphoenix@creativecollectivema.com 

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