Local photographer finishes exhibition in New Bedford

Jul 28, 2023

The exhibition on the lower floor of Gallery X in New Bedford initially seemed to contain work from many different photographers: there were black and white portraits to the left, macrophotography on the right, and a healthy sprinkling of birds, city features and landscapes throughout. 

But the entire floor actually hosted one Dartmouth-based photographer, James Correia, who recently put his work on display in the gallery. The exhibition ran from June 28 through July 23. 

Correia’s work spans a range of styles, subjects and locations, from the South Coast to Boston to Svalbard, Norway. 

“I like a challenge,” Correia said of his shifting style. “I see something I like, so I want to photograph it.”

Correia is an operations manager at Dartmouth Mall, but for the last 40 years, he’s also been a hobbyist, and at times professional, photographer. For 30 of those years, he’s lived in Dartmouth.

His desire to challenge himself is most obvious in his work photographing birds.  

“[It] definitely requires a lot of patience, some of it’s hit and miss,” Correia said of his bird photos. “They’re just social beings and I like to just capture them.”

He mostly photographs birds around the South Coast, including West Island in Fairhaven, at Allens Pond Wildlife Sanctuary in Dartmouth and at Copicut Reservoir in Fall River. Even having lived in Dartmouth for 30 years, and being raised in New Bedford before then, Correia said he’s still always discovering new trails and places to go on the South Coast. 

“There’s a little bit of everything just where we live, from oceans, to woods, seascapes, landscapes,” Correia said. “It’s just a beautiful spot.”

Correia recently caught a rare sight while photographing a common turn, a type of bird: the turn’s mother was feeding its baby a fish. 

Correia’s not involved with any local birding groups, but he’s been tempted to join, he said. 

To up his game, Correia went to the Center for Digital Imaging Arts of Boston University in 2011, a nine-month course resulting in a professional certificate.

“Everybody tells me I have a unique eye, and I tend to see that every once in a while,” Correia said. 

Correia’s eye is frequently noticed by his friend and fellow photographer John Souza, who met Correia 10 years ago when they were both members of the Whaling City Camera Club. Souza goes on photo walks with Correia occasionally, and he said he’s often amazed by what Correia sees. 

“We did a photo walk in Boston, and I’m walking 10 feet from him,” Souza said. “All of a sudden we come back and he has these amazing images. I saw the same things, but I didn’t see what he saw.”

A lot of people have technical camera skills, Souza said, but Correia has “the eye,” and can spot those moments and angles that lend the photo something extra.

“Especially in the age of social media, we’re jaded by so many images we see,” Souza said. “So when you see something that makes you stop for that extra second, it’s special.”

That eye for detail also makes Correia a resource for photography knowledge, which Souza said he’s “always willing to share.”

Correia freelances from time to time, but he also enjoys volunteering his photography skills: he has taken photos at fundraisers for the Alzheimer’s Association and the Buzzards Bay Coalition. 

“It’s just a way to articulate, express what I see and how I see it,” Correia said about why he takes photos. “It just helps you slow down and see things that you wouldn’t see.”