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Acclaimed photographer Richard Termine dicusses photography and puppetry in Storrs

By Emily Lewson
On April 16, 2014

On Wednesday, April 16th, acclaimed photographer Richard Termine, came out from behind the lens to discuss photographing live performances. As part of the Puppet Forum Series, his talk, "Puppets Through the Lens: Photography and the Performing Object," was held at the Ballard Institute and Museum of Puppetry in Storrs Center.
Termine began the night with an in-depth introduction, followed by basics for others pursuing the field and ended the evening with his experiences in the photography business.
Growing up in Middletown, Conn., Termine has always engaged with puppets. His elementary and junior high school days found him constantly interacting with different still life objects to create and manipulate characters.
"There is a magic of puppets and dolls that have always been important to me," Termine said, "It was a passion from the start."
Coming into his high school days, Termine was visiting UConn when he became involved with his first puppet production. It was Carol Tompson's "A Love for Three Oranges," which opened the Puppeteers of America Festival in 1970. This encouraged his love for puppets and connected him to the Puppet Art program. In time, Termine would graduate from UConn with a Bachelor of Fine Arts and a Master of Fine Arts.
Following his graduation, Termine had difficulty landing the job he desired. He worked a series of odd jobs, spanning from teaching at theater departments to stitching in the Muppet workshop. Eventually, Termine made his way into the Muppet workshop, where he stayed for nine years. With this break, the puppeteer grew more interested in photography and its correlation to live performance.
"Stills and photographs are the best way to promote your work," Termine said, who speaks from experience, as he now judges puppetry propositions on the board of the Jim Henson Foundation, "A picture is worth a thousand of the most eloquent words."
 The advancement into photography granted Termine a pass into a new world. With his knowledge he now photographs events from Carnegie Hall to "Blue's Clues." He has been the Production Photographer on "Sesame Street" and "The Muppets" for twenty years. This new field is critical to selling artwork and many UConn puppeteers were eager for his advice.
"A good photo has an event," Termine said. "A puppet comes to life through movement, and that is what you must capture."
While Termine willed puppeteers to capture the puppet just right, he also encouraged proper technique for the viewer's experience.
"The viewer's connection with the camera is strong. What the eye captures and what technology sees is very different," Termine said. "You must anticipate the movement; predict where it is going to go."
With a photographic mind, Termine admits that his technological side of photography is limited. He does not know that aspect as well, but he makes up for it through good contacts and perfecting his knowledge.
"This job is a commitment. My evenings must be kept clear because if that phone rings, I need to be off to an event," Termine said. "It's a great commitment though, because it is also magic."
To see some of Richard Termine's pieces visit the Ballard Museum, which is currently exhibiting his work, or check out his self-named website. Be sure to stop by for the BIMP's next Puppet Forum on April 30th at 7:30 p.m.

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