Ric Ide started out on the other end of the camera. “When I was in my early twenties, I did some fashion modeling for a while,” he remembers. “I was working for amazing photographers and got a real sense from them of what they were looking for. It inspired me. The photographer is ultimately the one who has the most control, and I wanted to be on that side of things.”
He majored in computers—working with big mainframes, not the sleek laptops of today—but kept getting drawn back to the camera. “A friend who’s a photographer showed me the basics,” he says. “And I picked it up from there.” Back then, working with film, the process was more onerous; “now you can see it all immediately,” he says. “You can work faster and better.” His own photo shoots tend to be quick. “You can’t expect a person to hold an expression for five minutes while you fiddle with apertures,” he says. His husband agrees. “There’s a magic moment that happens when Ric is shooting,” he says. “I’ve seen other photographers’ work and that moment, that essence, just isn’t there.”
Not unsurprisingly, Ide specializes in photographing people. “I try to pull an emotion out of someone,” he explains. “Landscapes just don’t have that feeling. They’re beautiful, but that’s all. The challenge is to identify the person’s look and try to capture it. I find that completely intriguing.”
His biggest challenge is technical. “The weather!” he exclaims and laughs. “It’s all about the lighting. I panic on a bright sunny day. I have much more control on an overcast day. But I don’t spend a lot of time worrying about it. People come to photo shoots and they’re nervous, so I have to keep relaxed and not dwell on things if I want to get the best results. I go fast, I make it a conversation between us, and then later I can go back and worry about the technical details.”
What’s the best part about what he does? “I love showing people pictures that they like of themselves, things they can be proud of. Pictures that draw you in, that move you, I love it when I get thank-you notes with a line of exclamation marks: it means I really found what I was looking for with that person. It’s amazing to see people using my photographs on things that are close to them. I’ve been on books, on CD covers, and what that means is that they think I identified something there: I brought out their essence.”
His love of beauty extends to the fine arts; Ide is photographer of record for several art galleries in town and loves the exposure to the arts it gives him. “It’s a real pleasure to do that kind of collaboration,” he says. He’s also enjoying the collaboration he experiences as staff photographer at ptownie. “What can I say?” he says. “I love everything I do.”
Part of Ide’s genius comes out of his own life. “My life is balanced in every regard,” he says. “My relationship, work, emotionally, physically… it’s hard to get them all aligned at once and that’s where I am now. I’m glad to be in a place where I feel that I haven’t missed the boat on anything. I don’t have any regrets. I took risks, I did what I wanted in life, and I’ve wound up happy.” He pauses. “Six o’clock comes and everything stops: we close our computers, we turn off the TV, and we start cooking. We cook together every night. We have a glass of wine or a couple of beers and we just relax together and create. I do pasta dishes with sauces, Matt does these amazing homemade salad dressings. Food and cooking and eating.”
Ide loves living in Provincetown—“why would I ever leave?”—but doesn’t get involved politically. “I admire people who get involved,” he says, “but in a small community I want to have good relations with everyone around me. In this town, it’s hard to be friends with those on the other side, that’s just my observation. I may agree with some opinions but I’m often embarrassed by the way they’re expressed. For my health, I stay out of it.” Better, he concludes, to say what he has to say through his lens.
His technique has evolved over time. “I always pushed the contrasts on things, that’s what gives my work its distinctive look,” he says. “I still want that contrast, but these days I’m looking for a certain softness to go with it. I want the work to be high-impact, but without slapping you in the face.” He’s constantly looking for intriguing locations, but what it always comes back to is the people. “It’s the eyes that tell the story,” Ide says. “I need that connection with the eyes. That’s where the energy comes from. I need to get that from people: they open up emotionally through their eyes.”
“Here’s the thing,” says Ide. “I am perfectly content. I’m doing everything that I want. Creatively, I’m living exactly where I want to be. I don’t have desire to go on a vacation. Sometimes I don’t leave the house.” He pauses. “I feel like I have the world.