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Vintage Lens

Looking at Steven Schreiber’s arresting photography, it’s hard to imagine that the 58-year-old artist only began working in the medium six years ago. After a quadruple bypass in 2011 he turned his life around, getting a degree in photography and graduating with honors. The former designer wanted to “share my artistic visions for all to see through my eyes.”

Schreiber grew up watching his father build furniture, a pastime he took up himself. Most of his career found him designing landscapes and interiors, with a specialty in stone finishes. The artist hails from UpIsland, but since 2001 has lived in Flanders, a convenient point from which to venture forth to find his subjects.

“I look for things that are run down or incomplete. I especially love old buildings. It’s kind of my dark side,” he laughs. “I honestly believe that things old and dying or dead are just as important as live things.” His works, he feels, are a sad reminder of the past. But his intention is keep the past alive through his photography.

It is no wonder then that his pieces seem to be tinged with a vintage cast. To do this he both mutes the brightness out of colors and uses a filter that lends the original image a “rustic or antique” veneer.” It’s like a coating that takes the sharpness away.”

For his composition, he keeps an eye out for “what I feel is the most fascinating angle. I could be walking right past it, turn around and there it is. I try to give a different point of view than what you see every day.”

And that he does. From a striking black-and-white image of a sunflower caught just before it bloomed to one of a naked winter winery silhouetted with bare vines, he has captured the moods of his local communities from Moriches to Greenport.

Besides his landscape and flora photography, Schreiber also focuses his lens on subjects that fall into the category of what he calls “American farm heritage” – from a nostalgia-infused image of a truck parked in a sunflower field to the stark skeleton of an abandoned barn.

A true master of the craft, he also shoots dazzling portraits, often in natural surroundings.

Schreiber shows his work regularly in Greenport at the Alex Ferrone Gallery and the Main Street Gallery. He also volunteers for East End Arts in Riverhead and their satellite location at the Southampton Cultural Center, where he curates exhibits.