Inside stories

An ongoing online project focuses on the details of creative people’s lives.

click to enlarge INTERIOR LIVES: Larry & Charlie Schiller with finds from their architectural salvage company. - Bryan Hunt/Snapshot Tampa Bay
Bryan Hunt/Snapshot Tampa Bay
INTERIOR LIVES: Larry & Charlie Schiller with finds from their architectural salvage company.

“creative people. interesting ideas. eye candy.”

That’s the catchphrase of Snapshot Tampa Bay, a website that illuminates zesty people in their home environments/studios. Bryan Hunt, the site’s initiator, uses interviews and photography to survey these innovative individuals. Their personal style grows from their explorations, not from store-purchased objects.

Hunt, a former board member of Creative Tampa Bay, decided to develop Snapshot as a form of community service by showcasing cool individuals in our area. By spending two to three hours with his subjects in their homes, he gets to know them intimately.

“If you ask, people will open up. Folks I’ve never even met before open their closets and share their passions. It’s a personal thing to let someone with a camera into your home.” A positive side effect of these in-depth interviews has been that often they became friends.

Bryan’s intention is to showcase a variety of people, not selected for the sumptuousness of their homes but for their authenticity and originality. He’s not a professional photographer, but rather a guy with a camera who happens to be an interior designer with his own firm, Aligned Workspace. Hunt observes, “I have an eye for the minutiae of someone’s life, which really tells their story. What are the objects on someone’s desk? Those photos reveal more than the text.”

What inspired Snapshot? Bryan and Julia Gorzka Freeman, both fans of Tampa’s creative economy, wanted to celebrate the clever individuals who are here, but perhaps below the radar screen. Julia had seen an article from 1960s Town and Country magazine about Tampa and found it absurdly pretentious.

“We wanted to present a new twist on the scene in Tampa Bay to attract new creatives and spread the word about what’s already happening here,” explained Julia. “And we didn’t have to look far.”

Launched in October 2012, Snapshot was initially produced twice a month, until April when Julia accepted her current job at the Tampa Museum of Art. Now Bryan publishes it monthly, a labor of love. He has profiled subjects ranging from Ryan Iacovacci, a fresh food advocate in Sulphur Springs, to master printer Erika Greenberg-Schneider and sculptor Dominique Labauvie, owners of Bleu Acier gallery in Tampa Heights.

There is no set template for these interviews. Hunt explores the physical surroundings of the home while probing the details — the refrigerator magnets, the books stacked in the corner — that shed light on what sparks the person’s work.

As opposed to spreads in glossy magazines that are air-brushed and art-directed beyond credibility, Hunt shares intimate glimpses into the texture of domestic settings. Heather Kendall, the shell artist, is viewed with her myriad boxes of material. The creators of Paper Street, Sean and Celesta Carter, share their unusual finds. Stan Storer describes his art-collecting and discovery of the local visual arts scene. My husband, Mark Sena, and I were among Snapshot’s earlier subjects; one of Bryan’s photos showed a bowl containing a NYC subway ticket, foreign money, and other revealing flotsam and jetsam of our lives.

Some of the entries are more specifically design-oriented, like that for Chip Vogel and Scott Schershel, interior and garden designers, who like most of the other folks profiled aren’t originally from this area. Their enhanced appreciation of the Bay area’s tree-lined neighborhoods and light is shared by many. An appreciation for cocktails and small dogs is another leitmotif.

Nancy Walker, the creator of Walker Brands; Larry and Charlie Schiller, owners of an architectural salvage company; Ken Rollins, former director of the Tampa Museum of Art; Francisco Arias, baker extraordinaire and founder of Le Mouton Noir; and Mitzi Gordon, Bluebird Books maven have all been celebrated in Snapshot. Theo Wujcik and Mishou Sanchez, visual artists, and Community Stepping Stones, a grass-roots art organization, are also showcased.

My sense in reading these blog entries at shapshot is always wonder. What visionary folks … I wish that I knew them … I want to try that restaurant … explore that neighborhood … visit that gallery.

Snapshot sparks curiosity, making us realize how many layers of creativity can be found in Tampa Bay if you’re willing to look.

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