ILION – What began four years ago as a personal effort to capture the beauty and potential in the village of Mohawk, has grown into a reflection of the hidden treasures throughout the Mohawk Valley area with thousands of online fans and an upcoming gallery show.
The informal group of professional and novice photographers known as Mohawk Valley Through the Lens have been
using their skills to photograph the Valley and post their work on Facebook.
Additionally, the group will be putting their photographs on display in the Remington Room of the Ilion Public Library for the months of February and March.
The success of MVTTL has surprised founder Gabe Oram.
“Starting in 2014, I did a year-long project where I photographed the village of Mohawk,” recalled Oram. “That was the year of the flood. It got a lot of attention and I thought maybe I’d invite some friends to help me do the same thing for the Valley. Turned out to be a hit.”
‘A hit’ may be an understatement. MVTTL’s Facebook page currently has some 12,011 likes and 12,023 followers, numbers that creep up daily. The majority of those likes and follows, Oram said, come from Valley natives who have since left the area, but appreciate being reminded of home.
“We try to be their connection to home,” he said.
To that end, Oram and the five other photo contributors to MVTTL have set wide boundaries on their definition of the Valley, and often include photos of places decidedly outside the Mohawk Valley, because surrounding areas, Oram pointed out, often make up what comes to mind when people think of home.
“The definition of the Valley is anything that makes someone from here feel like they are home,” he explained. “We include a lot of non-valley locations such as Cooperstown or Old Forge because those places mean something to the people that live or have lived here. Why place limits on your memories and feelings?”
But MVTTL isn’t just for Valley transplants. It’s for those still living here too.
“Our goal is to show people what they have here under their own butts and help them realize this area is worth fighting
for. There’s a lot of beauty here,” Oram said.
“All of our members are dedicated to taking beautiful photos of the Mohawk Valley and showing them in a positive way,” added Oram’s father, Cliff Oram, who is a regular contributor. “That’s probably why we have over 12,000 followers.”
The group’s photographs will be on display at the Ilion Public Library from Feb. 2 through the end of March, with an artist reception Feb. 8 from 4 to 7 p.m. The photos on display will also be for sale, with 15 percent of the sale price going to the library.
“We are all volunteer,” Gabe Oram said of all six page contributors. “We don’t make a dime on our Facebook posts.”
Outside of Gabe and Cliff Oram, those contributors include Sara Jones, Todd Walker, Lynn Scarfuto and Bob Ostrander.