I have known Jamie Conley and her husband, Will, for what seems like eons. Will does the prison ministry at our church and at this time she works at Davis Properties in Seagrove. But from her talent I think it won’t be long until she devotes her full time to her love of the camera.
It was maybe two years ago someone told me about Jamie and her photography efforts. As an oil painter and sculptor, anything with art backgrounds attracts me like Dumpsters do the bears at Grayton Beach. (Strange analogy there.) Anyhow, the subject slipped right past me and then I was hit right between the eyes.
She made her first attempt at exhibiting at a St. Rita Catholic Church’s annual craft and gift show. At first, I wondered why so many people crowded around a small area in the parking lot. When I was finally able to peer through the shuffling observers, I was bowled over.
The photography was totally different from anything I had seen in the galleries of our area — and the presentation and framing simplicity was nothing less than spectacular. I stood there at her small shaded tent, didn’t say much, but walked away knowing that here was something important in the world of photography.
I am by no means anything of an authority of that medium, but I am trained in balance, color tones, undertones, and symmetry from the Memphis Academy of Arts.
Some students have to be taught, others are bestowed with that special gift by their Maker. No academic education can instill that talent unless it lies under the skin. No doubt, Jamie Conley was given the ability — with bells, too. But I also know she has spent many hours studying the masters of imagery within the field.
Her work was recently shown in a two woman exhibit with Melissa Davis at Amavida Coffee at Rosemary Beach. The house was packed opening night, and now she has graciously offered to show her work at the Coastal Branch Library. It’s her attention to half tones and shadow effects that make observers just stand there like zombies.
They are in perfect harmony.
In the 24 years of living here and in the arts, finally, I have seen the light of well-executed, celluloid endeavors. Jamie is more than a professional, because she has pushed on from the standard pan shots that are found on everyday gift cards and store prints. She creates photographs from a whole new perspective.
Jamie’s time has arrived, and there is no doubt in my mind (what’s left of it according to my wife) that she is destined for shows in larger metropolitan galleries. Her work is simply that wonderful. Examples can still be seen at the library until the end of April. Jamie’s website is www.jconleyimages.com.
Fair winds to ye matey.
Chick Huettel is a long-time Walton County resident, writer and artist. He is a member of a number of local organizations including the Emerald Coast Archeological Society.