capturing A Moment

PETERBOROUGH: ConVal student Aja Procita has traveled all around the Western Hemisphere; her travel photography is on display at the River Center through March

  • Photography by Aja Procita, 17, of Peterborough will be featured in a River Center exhibit.
  • Photography by Aja Procita, 17, of Peterborough will be featured in a River Center exhibit.
  • Photography by Aja Procita, 17, of Peterborough will be featured in a River Center exhibit.
  • Photography by Aja Procita, 17, of Peterborough will be featured in a River Center exhibit.
  • Photography by Aja Procita, 17, of Peterborough will be featured in a River Center exhibit.

Aja Procita of Peterborough is more well-traveled than many of her fellow ConVal seniors. She’s been to California, Nova Scotia, Belize, Barbados, and more than once to Nicaragua, a favorite destination. And to commemorate these trips, Procita has photographs. But Procita’s shots aren’t your ordinary vacation slideshow. They are artful shots that capture the people and flavor of those places she’s visited.

“I started taking photographs when I was just a kid,” Procita said in an interview in her Peterborough home on Wednesday. “At first, it was just fun to hit the button. Photography just seemed like a real way to show what was around me. I’ve never been good at drawing, and photos show that this is exactly what that thing looked like. It always seemed like a straightforward thing.”

It wasn’t until three or four years ago that Procita stopped just pointing and shooting and really began to explore the kind of artistry she could display in her photographs. Several of her favorite shots utilize settings that capture a single moment — often a person — in sharp focus, while the rest of the background is a blur, time standing still forever as life passes by.

Procita has used the fact that her family loves to travel to make the most of her photography. The first photo she ever submitted to a juried arts show was taken during the Crop Over Festival in Barbados, on a day known as the Grand Kadooment to celebrate the end of the harvest. Procita captured a woman in a brilliant, red-feathered costume and had it made into a print as a present for her father. When the Sharon Arts Gallery announced a juried show for student artists, a friend and her art teacher encouraged her to submit a photo, she recalled.

“This one started it all,” said Procita, picking up her print. Now, Procita has had her photographs showcased not only at the Sharon Arts Gallery, but also hanging in Aesop’s Tables in Peterborough, and most recently, in the River Center in Peterborough, where her photographs are currently on display. Most of them are shots of people she’s taken on her travels: A shy boy peaking out of a Nicaraguan school, a young man in a raincoat admiring a Japanese garden in Portland, Oregon, a lone man with a cart on an empty street of Nicaragua, the twilight background nothing but a blur behind him.

“With people, I like having them right there, so you can really focus in on them,” she explained. People, particularly children, are her favorite subject to shoot, she said.“I like showing expressions and capturing a moment. I love the kids. I feel like everyone can identify with a child, because they can say, ‘I’ve been there.’ And kids always have truthful expressions. Exactly what’s going through their mind is shown on their faces.”

Most often the people she photographs are strangers, she said. But even though she only has a brief contact with them while snapping a photo, they still have a strong connection.

“I didn’t meet these people, but they’ve had a huge impact on me,” said Procita, indicating a photo of a man she took during the Barbados Crop Over Festival, wearing a brightly colored mask on the back of his shaved head. “I didn’t even get his face, just the back of his head, and it still has an impact on me.”

She also likes the challenge of getting the perfect animal shot, she said, since they often are not cooperative subjects. She is attracted to motion, she said, preferring living subjects to still ones.

“I’ll occasionally take landscapes, but I always want something a little more unique. You can look online and get a million pictures of a sunset on a beach. It’s still beautiful, but it’s not unique.” Though she does take shots locally, she is particularly proud of those taken during her trips, she said.

“I really like to show different things. There is so much out there,” she said. “These are little reminders that there’s something else going on outside of you. It gives a more global sense.”

Procita said she hopes to always be able to travel and take pictures, but does not plan to pursue a career in photography. She had been accepted into Reed College in Portland, Ore., where she will major in physics and philosophy.

Procita’s River Center show will be on display through April.

Ashley Saari can be reached at 924-7172 ex. 244, or She’s on Twitter @AshleySaari.

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