The View Finder

 The View Finder

Dayton photographer Andy Snow an icon in Dayton for four decadesKarla Hollencamp Andy Snow is a photographer whose point of view is informed both by his love of math and his study of philosophy. “They are both about logic,” he says, when asked where the two intersect.

That combination explains why his technical skills are so good and why his pictures reflect a poetic sensitivity to every subject, be it a jet engine or a ballet dancer.

Snow’s commercial-photography career, starting in the 1980s, includes producing portraits of such luminaries as Jimmy Stewart, Ray Bradbury, Wendell Berry, Neil Armstrong, John Glenn, Walter Cronkite, Bonnie Raitt, Renée Fleming, Richard Holbrooke and Al Gore. His work has appeared in TIME, Newsweek, Forbes, National Geographic, Ohio Magazine, the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times. His images have been used in annual reports, ad campaigns and other printed works internationally.

As a 2020 recipient of the Ohio Arts Council Governor’s Award as an individual artist, Snow is having his more than four decades of work honored for its significant contribution to the community.

The letters of support for his nomination come from a distinguished list of local leaders.

From Michael Roediger, director and CEO of the Dayton Art Institute: “Andy’s work is the true essence of his subjects. From beautiful moments in the community’s landscape to moments of joy sorrow of real people Andy captures our stories and emotions.”

From Matt Dunn, executive director of the Montgomery County Arts & Cultural District: “Andy is truly a local treasure. In addition to being an outstanding photographer he is superbly civic minded. His interest in the arts and in the vibrancy of Dayton’s artistic and cultural heritage is both genuine and beyond compare.

“Whether it is commercial, commissioned, pro bono or even leisurely and recreational there is one word that for me describes Andy’s work: iconic.

“Andy is also a prolific documentarian and archivist. His documentation of such things as the building of the Benjamin and Marian Schuster Performing Arts Center, the new Dayton Metro Library main branch in Downtown Dayton and the Levitt Pavilion Dayton, as well as the renovation of downtown Dayton’s historic Arcade, are examples of a selfless labor of love.”

From Ron Rollins, community impact editor of the Dayton Daily News/Cox Media Group Ohio: “The range of his work is staggering, covering everything from street photography to formal portraits, and from journalism to museum exhibits. His historic project, ‘Watershed, Then & Now,’ commemorating the great flood of 1913 in the Miami Valley of western Ohio, was honored as one of 20 Best of 2013 by the American Society of Media Photographers. The exhibition, in which Andy revisited scenes of 1913 devastation to show how they look today, was displayed at the Dayton Art Institute and turned into a book by the Miami Conservancy District, which initiated the centennial project.”

From Brenda Gibson, public relations manager at the Miami Valley Conservancy district: “Andy was my first choice for the Flood of Memories photo book project, but I never imagined we could afford him on our limited budget. So when I called him it was to ask if he could recommend another photographer. But when he learned what we were trying to create he was all in. Getting a photographer the caliber of Andy Snow to work on our Flood of Memories photo book project was crucial to its success. His passion for Dayton and history, combined with his incredible creative eye and technical skills, brought our book to life. He’s an extraordinary photographer and now has become a good friend as well.”

Snow was deeply affected by his work on the Flood of Memories book, which saw him taking 60 new images to correspond to 60 historic 1913 photos from the archives, “from Piqua to Hamilton, in conjunction with historical societies in each community including Troy, West Carrollton, Franklin and Middletown,” he says.

“Call it ‘Sherlock Holmes meets Ansel Adams.’ A process of discovery and inspiration like no other. Creating an image to resonate with the old historic view led to inspirational moments of harmonic-convergence serendipity.”

The Dayton Art Institute exhibition included photographic artifacts such as old view cameras and lantern slides so that the show became, as Snow put it, “a narrative of the impact of recovery and the history of photography.”

Internationally known artist Willis Bing Davis says Snow is an “artist-humanitarian” and an “exceptionally gifted photographer whose sensitive eye is directly attached to his heart. He is filled with love and concern for humanity and the physical world we live in.

“I have learned so much from the many long and short conversations I have had with Andy over the years and I have learned just as much from looking and listening to the stories his photographs tell as they hang on the walls or flow through documentaries on the screen. Andy Snow is a visual griot, a storyteller that not only helps us know how we are, but also our connection to each other and the physical space we share.”

Snow’s photography of Dayton’s performing arts organizations, especially the Dayton Contemporary Dance Company, has made him an essential fixture in the city’s famed fine-arts scene.

“Dance photography is the most fascinating,” he says. “My favorite images are those that capture the apex of a leap with a hint of movement blur in the feet. Stillness, energy and motion in a single click. That’s when I hear the angels sing.”