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Nice article on me in the Berkshire Eagle

There was a nice article about me in the Berkshire Eagle last week. Here’s the link

Here’s the text. Thanks to Claire Cox for writing it and Ben Garver for the nice image.

A lens on Kevin Sprague
By Claire Cox, Special to The Eagle
Article Last Updated: 05/22/2008 02:08:45 PM EDT

Kevin Sprague
Thursday, May 22
LENOX — From opera to Shakespeare, with the Gilded Age between, Kevin Sprague devotes his communications talents to enhancing cultural life in the Berkshires.

Viewing the world through a camera lens, he creates photographs that attract audiences to the theater, dance, opera, art and film.

“Images do a huge lifting job for the theaters in helping people understand what they are to see, and also remember what it was like to see it. Our challenge and goal is to make the place successful,” he said in an interview.

As a graphics expert working with a computer and digital skills, he applies his creativity to producing ads, brochures, playbills, programs and web pages for entertainments across the county. Once a teenage handyman at Shakespeare & Company, he has been the company’s window on the world for over 12 years. He is also called on for promotional material and photo-ops for the Berkshire Theater Festival in Stockbridge and the Barrington Stage Company in Pittsfield.

Photography has been a staple of Sprague’s life since as a child in Lenox he picked up his first Nikon to shoot pictures on film he processed in a family darkroom.

“Growing up, it was something we all did,” he said. “There were always cameras around.”

For the last eight years. He has processed digital photos in his computer “darkroom” in Studio 2 on Undermountain Road. There, he and his six-member staff also create audio
Advertisement and promotional material for cultural nonprofit and business organizations.

Born in Manhattan, Sprague grew up in Lenox, attended Berkshire Country Day School, Hotchkiss, and Cornell University, where he graduated with an English major.

“In college I didn’t pursue photography at all,” he said, “but I wrote a novel titled ‘Viewfinder’ with a photographer for the protagonist. It’s still on a shelf.”

Having no job after school and being “too snobbish to take a writing job because I was going to be a novelist,” he said, he went to work developing sales materials and videos for his grandfather, Milos Krofta, developer of water and wastewater systems.

That experience led Sprague to start his own industrial video business. He added professional photography in response to requests for graphic designs for brochures created with computer processed photos.

From film to digital

He began working with Shakespeare & Company in 1996, he said, and four years later he bought his first digital camera “and never looked back.”

The transition has made it possible for him to create all of Shakespeare & Company’s graphics as well as its website, and he has compiled a volume of his photos titled “Imagining Shakespeare,” which he hopes will be published.

“What blew the doors off for me was the transition to digital,” he said. “I had been spending 10 grand a year on film and processing.”

His first defining moment in digitalizing occurred when he photographed the cast of “Coreolanus” in Shakespeare & Company’s stable theater at The Mount, he said. Instead of using 10 rolls of film, much of it unacceptable, he clicked 980 digital shots, all of which were useable.

“Digits are free,” he observed. “They don’t cost anything to shoot.”

Sprague works from his studio in a converted barn, next to the home he shares with his wife Christine, who is an architect and president of Ventfort Hall, and two sons. From there, he pursues an almost nonstop schedule in keeping Berkshire culture before the public and having an active involvement in environmental causes.

Collections of Sprague’s images of water invading architecture, scenic panoramas and prints combining art and digital photos have been exhibited in galleries in the Berkshires. He has been honored for creating “Muse,” a volume of composite images, and his work has been seen in fine art collections and magazines and on posters an book covers.

“A lot is coming up,” he said. “Summer is really busy, running from one shoot to the next. I shoot a lot because my relations to my clients are different than most commercial photographers. My business is as much about design, marketing and communication as photography. I use photographs to get to the end result, which is marketing and communication.

“Photography is just a piece of the pie, only about 25 percent,” he explained. “The rest is applying it, using it.”

Lenox Land Trust
As an environmental activist, he started the Lenox Land Trust eight years ago, partly out of concern for the 150 acres of scenic property his family owns locally.

“I want to see that the land is used right,” he explained. “It weighs heavily on my mind. I needed to find allies, so I created the land trust.”

Sprague is proud of the fact that he helped “shepherd” the Lenox Community Preservation Act to adoption by the town’s voters.

“The theater comes first, however,” he said, “because shooting productions is fun, and I love it when promotions sell tickets.”

Reawakening the Berkshires

Sprague added that the Berkshires may have moved through a difficult time, and the cultural scene has been elevating its self in the last 10 years.

In helping to cultivate the cultural life of the Berkshires, he has become a member of the Steering Committee of the Berkshire Creative Economy Project, which is seeking to develop economic opportunities “based on the intersection of art, culture and design,” he said.

“Primarily so far it focuses on the idea that that the economic development of the Berkshires does not necessarily rely on GE coming back,” Sprague said. “It’s a shift in gears for the old and new schools.”

As people think of Napa’s wine in California and jazz in New Orleans, he said, “What we really want people to think about when they think of the Berkshires is art, creativity and culture.”