For some news photographers, a fire is a fire. For Ralph Morang each assignment, no matter how routine, is an artistic call to arms. The tighter the deadline, the more quickly his eye flashes, capturing not only the moment, but the meaning of the moment. He sees the winter house fire (click), gauges its power against a cascade of freezing water (click). He measures the tragedy on the face of a neighbor (click), then turns toward a fireman backlit by the glare of flame and street lamps (click). Every picture tells a story. Combined they speak volumes.
If that was all he did, he'd win awards -- and does. But Ralph won't settle for photojournalism. He shoots "stock" scenery, pretty pics for magazines and calendars and such. He shoots "industrials" too and advertising layouts, arty car parts and studio stuff with puffy soft lights and colorful backdrops. But then he wants to do some portraits, to capture the soul of his subjects with his flashing eye. And he does. One day an album cover. Next day a photo essay. He hangs in a gallery. He publishes a book. He shoots another politician.
But Ralph won't settle for photography. He's got to direct a movie. It's called "Family Trees" and he's talking about TV shows, about multi-media, about one project after another.
Friends remember when Ralph had to have a motorcycle. Had to. So he bought a busted BMW at a yard sale in the wilds of Epping. It lay for years on his coffee table in a barn apartment in Rye. It lay in pieces for so long that people thought it was some kind of modern sculpture. Made sense. After all, Ralph did major in Art so many years before. He was going to be a painter back then. Today he's got the BMW up and running and a four-alarm assignment. With a bagful of cameras and a headful of new ideas, he roars off to arts unknown.
By J. Dennis Robinson
Though his Seacoast ancestry, on his mother's side, dates back to the earliest settlers, Ralph Morang was born in Tennessee. His father, who later worked on nuclear submarines in Kittery, Maine, was then part of the "Manhattan Project." Mr. Morang was educated at Portsmouth High School and started his studies at UNH as an electrical engineering major, but moved quickly to the Arts program, graduating in 1972. His career in photography includes 14 years on the staffs of Seacoast newspapers and seven years as a freelancer. He has published photographs in scores of magazines and produced scenic, studio and industrial photography for agencies and corporations throughout New England. He is the author of the photo book "Faces of Hampton" and has received numerous New England and NH Press Association awards for his news work. He currently lives in Rye and is directing his first feature film.
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