For Gulfport photographer Jude Bagatti, taking pictures isn’t about the camera – it’s about the eye.
“Everywhere you go,” she says, “look around you and behind you. Try to see beyond what is right in front of you.”
In her case, there has been a lot to see. Her show, Power Places, Sacred Spaces, and Unforgettable Faces is on display in the Hickman Theater Lobby through March 31. It features 35 photographs from her journey through all seven continents.
Bagatti’s travels began with a trip to the Andes in the 1980s. This voyage is captured in a remarkable photograph of the “lost city” of Machu Picchu. “I was on a four-day trek along the Inca Trail,” she says. Upon arriving, she decided to climb just a bit further, scaling the iconic Huayna Picchu peak (known to hikers as the “Stairs of Death”) that towers over the ancient ruins. Turning back, she finally saw it: the famous walls and terraces, embraced by the lofty green and blue mountains, all framing a tiny line of pilgrims winding through the ruins below. Her picture.
“Patience is the other thing with photography,” she says. “Sometimes you have to let things fall into place.”
Gulfport Photographer Jude Bagatti’s A-Ha Moments
You could say that photography was in her blood. Growing up in New Jersey, Bagatti remembers her father transforming the family bathroom into a darkroom so he could process his own prints. She, too, has enjoyed photography as long as she can remember. But the idea of pursuing it as an art only came to her after a massage client – Bagatti is a licensed massage and reiki practitioner) saw a photo of hers hanging on the wall and wanted to buy it. “It was an ah-ha moment for me,” she says.
Many shows and two photography books later, she has finally accomplished a longtime goal of traveling to all seven continents (that includes Antarctica!) and mounting a show that captures the incredible breadth of that experience.
There’s the “Bronze Lady,” an artfully composed look at the Statue of Liberty capturing the wavelike hem of her robes and the spiky corona of her crown. Bagatti took the shot just hours after she had finished running the New York City Marathon. A landscape shot shows Cape Town, South Africa, emerging like a silver mirage between the sea and Tabletop Mountain. A close up shows the hair-raising rows of teeth in the mouth of a barking Tasmanian Devil – a shot she waited about 20 minutes to capture.
One image of a giant peace sign painted like an American flag hung along winding path of trees and delightfully ramshackle furniture takes a moment to snap into recognition: Gulfport’s own Blueberry Patch. “I had to include it in the show!” Bagatti says with a grin.
Takes One Last Look
If you’re noticing a theme of peregrination – what Bagatti would call “being adventuresome” – then you’re starting to tune in to this photographer’s artistic philosophy. Capturing the perfect image is just part of her larger avocation of seeking out the many shades of beauty and strangeness cast by the world. Whether it’s the deep-lined smile on the face of a Greenland seal hunter or the dance-like motion of two Greek soldiers at mid-salute, Bagatti’s work captures more than amazing sights. It captures a whole way of seeing.
And what more fitting emblem could there be than the image which greets visitors to the show: a profile of an Egyptian pyramid with a gauzy eye of Horus formed in clouds beside its peak. “I had taken pictures for hours and was about to leave,” she recounts. “Then I turned back for one last photograph, and there it was!”
“Patience, curiosity, a sense of adventure – I think that’s what good photography requires,” she says. “And just a little bit of luck!”
Power Places, Sacred Spaces, and Unforgettable Faces, work from Gulfport photographer Jude Bagatti. Catherine Hickman Theater lobby, 5501 27th Ave. S., Gulfport. Through Mar. 31: Mon.-Thurs., 8 a.m.-4 p.m. mygulfport.us, 727-322-6211, or email@example.com
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