Q & A with Peter Potter: Knox Farm Photographer

Feb 06, 2019 • Highlights
Q & A with Peter Potter: Knox Farm Photographer

We asked local photographer Peter Potter about his passion for photography, the local community and how his photos were used to tell the story of the first ever Borderland Festival. You can find more of Peter's work Here.

Q: Your photographs were used to help tell the story of the first ever Borderland Festival last year, how
did you feel when the festival asked about your work?

I was flattered when I was approached to provide my images to help promote the Borderland Festival. The thought of being a part of the first festival was exciting and I felt my photographs could help share excitement for the festival and let people get a feel for the unique and beautiful venue at Knox Farm State Park.

Q: What did you think when you heard a music festival would be taking place at the beloved Knox Park?

A: When I first heard about the Borderland Festival I was very excited. I had a great deal of confidence in the success of the festival because of John Cimperman's commitment to the creative tradition of the arts community that we enjoy in East Aurora. Not to blow smoke, after meeting Jen Brazill and Zack Keller I had a very good feeling about the potential for success. When I learned about the sustainability initiative and the line up, I was a true believer!

Q: When did you start taking photographs?

A: When I was a child I was fascinated by photography, cameras, and film. The notion of that there was a latent image on the film that needed to be developed to become visible and permanent captivated me. I am grateful to have learned photography in Mr. Beebe's art room in East Aurora High School. I learned how to operate a camera, develop film, and make and develop enlargements. It was magic. I was hooked.

Q: Have you always focused on the outdoors?

A: Motorsports was a big interest for me for a time. I liked the action and color. I began to think about framing a dynamic subject and background to create a pleasant composition. I have shifted emphasis and mediums. I have been using digital, almost exclusively, since switching from film almost 15 years ago. My subjects currently are primarily landscapes, architecture, and a few botanicals.

Q: What does this small town and community of East Aurora mean to you?

I am an inhabitant of East Aurora. It is my first home. It's where I went to school to learn about Elbert Hubbard and the Roycroft. I raised a steer from Ess Kay Farms (which became Knox Farm State Park) in 4H. In college I washed dishes at the Roycroft Inn. I am a participant in the Arts and Crafts Movement that East Aurora has had a formative and continuing role in. I am a Roycroft Artisan at Large and I am a docent on the Roycroft Campus. I am an ambassador for our village when traveling.

Q: How have you seen it change though the lens of a photographer?

I have never seen the Roycroft Inn and the Roycroft Campus look better than today! National Landmark Status and restoration efforts have resulted greater public access and appreciation of the Campus. More open spaces and green spaces are available for nature lovers and for recreation. Ess Kay Farms has become Knox Farm State Park, and the Nature Conservancy has secured and protected Kenneglenn, Owens Falls Sanctuary, and the Outlook at Mill for public use. Knox, the green spaces, and the Roycroft Campus comprise a large part of my portfolio, and that material is refreshed as the seasons and years go by.

Q: What were your favorite acts of Borderland 2018?

A: I was looking forward to Sam Bush; I've been listening to him since the birth of Newgrass. I was not disappointed. The variety of material in his act was a surprise. The Revivalists were new to me. I was captivated by their dramatic presence. If I had to pick one act it's Otiel and Friends. I love their material and the performance was so positive and upbeat- Otiel was beaming the whole time.

Q: You were able to shoot the festival as well, how was that experience?

A: I enjoyed photographing at the Borderland Festival. I caught some of the Artisans as they demonstrated their crafts on the festival grounds, and got in the pit to photograph the performers. It was really intense and different from landscapes and other static scenes that I am more familiar with! I had to use settings for much lower light, while trying to preserve image quality. I used some fast prime telephoto lenses, in place of the super wide angle zoom lens that I most often use. The fast primes were really nice to use in the low light. They were bright and easy to compose with and they focused very well. The rapidly changing stage lighting was a challenge at first, but by taking many exposures I could choose those with the best lighting.

Q: Have you ever shot live music before?

A: Live music is not my specialty. It's an interesting challenge and opportunity for growth. In college I shot a B.B. King concert with black and white film.

Q: If you could have any band play Borderland Festival, who would you have play and why?

A: I'd like to see Richie Stearns and Rosie Newton at Borderland. They are a favorite of mine and their style is compatible with the other acts I've seen at Borderland.

Q: Describe your style of photography and the equipment that you use, if you will.

A: The images I generally produce are referred to as HDR. I take several (usually 3) different exposures and blend them in software to get details in the highlights and shadows. I really enjoy the power of the editing software and the creative processes that it allows. I use two Nikon D300 bodies and a variety of lenses. For landscapes and architecture I rely on my superwide Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 zoom. For botanical images I really love to use the Micro Nikkor
60mm f/2.8 macro. It is insanely sharp. I have some other lenses as mentioned above that I use for available light photography. In the end my favorite part of the creative process is editing. I often use several programs to achieve the final result.

Thanks for your thoughtful questions. I've really enjoyed this.

A Festival Beyond Boundaries

September 13-15, 2024