NORTH ADAMS, Mass. -- Community members and fans of Transcript photographer Gillian Jones excitedly watched a digital side show outside MCLA Gallery 51, searching for pictures of themselves, while inside the gallery, conversations revolved around the memories conjured up by images of events from over the last 20 years.
"More than anything, I wanted to see things I've missed in the paper, and I wanted to see things that pre-dated my being here," Ed Sederbaum, of Williamstown, who moved to the Berkshires in 2003, said at the opening of the show. "I also just admire her work. She's a great photographer. It's interesting, because I shy away from sentimentality in paintings, but I'm drawn to it in photographs. There are some wonderful pictures of babies and children with their pigs and things like that here."
The show, "Gillian Jones: Twenty Years of Photojournalism in the Berkshires," runs through June 24.
Jones, who began her career with the Transcript in June 1992, pulled the show together over the last year after culling through old negatives and digital archives for the paper's popular "Mystery Photo" spot. But her passion for capturing the community through her lens goes back to her childhood.
"My dad gave me a camera when I was 10 years old and that kind of got me started," she said. "I was kind of always interested in photography. It was probably in high school was when I started taking a lot of pictures. Of course it was
In 1992, she walked into the Transcript offices on American Legion Drive, portfolio in hand, hoping to interest then editor and publisher David Nahan in hiring her. As fate would have it, Nahan had just lost his photographer and was looking for a replacement.
"It was very good timing and I was very, very lucky to walk in when I did," Jones said. "He put me on part-time during the summer and in August, I was full time. In addition to taking and printing photographs, I was also working in the back room, toning photos and shooting pages -- back when everything was still being put together by cutting and pasting."
Twenty years ago, she never anticipated she'd celebrate 20 years with the paper.
"I really didn't think when I started that I would be here this long," she said. A lot of things kept me here. My mother was the initial reason, but I kind of dug my roots in as well. It just kind of happened -- time went by and I started doing different things. I started building up my business and my career. I love the area and the close-knit community."
Local artist and developer Eric Rudd, said the exhibit was a not only a retrospective of Jones' work, but also a documentation of the community's evolution over the last two decades.
"I think she started about the time I moved here," he said. " She gives the paper something more. At that time, the paper was writing about the Contemporary Artists Center and the things that were beginning to happen here. Gillian was always on the forefront of that. So it's kind of nice how everything's matured -- with the arts, with her photography. I'm just glancing around the room, and it's Gillian's retrospective but it's also one of the community. I'm seeing things from years ago."