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Monday, Apr. 21, 2014

Fleming paints with his camera

Posted Monday, June 13, 2011, at 3:55 PM

Mac Fleming (By Nick Schneider)
BLOOMFIELD -- Sometimes you run across ordinary people that make you just say 'wow'.

I had that wonderful experience Saturday morning while wandering around the Bloomfield Town Park looking to snap some photos at the Second Annual Paint the Park Bloomfield Art Festival.

It was a pretty normal photo assignment.

Look for people doing something that might make an interesting photo -- leaving a memory of some sort.

I came across a short, elderly man wearing gold-rimmed eyeglasses who had a gray-colored beard. He was standing next to a white tent that was filled with some beautiful framed photographs.

Mac Fleming was wearing a hearing aid and sporting a well-worn cream-colored baseball cap with a bent blue-green bill.

He looked like someone's grandpa, so I struck up a conversation.

In the pocket of his blue shirt was stuffed with an ink pen and a small bulging notebook, from which he pulled a business card and handed it to me.

I introduced myself and he immediately commented in a soft voice with a slight grin etched on his face, "You've got some pretty heavy duty stuff there." Meaning, I was packing some photo equipment that caught his attention -- two digital cameras -- one with a 70/300mm zoom lens, the other equipped with a 28/75mm zoom lens.

The photos that 92-year-old Mac Fleming displayed were very special and inspiring to me as a veteran photographer, who's been snapping images for more than 40 years now.

His work was great.

Mac's work had majestic scenes from the Grand Canyon, landscape views from Clifty Falls State Park, an Ohio River scene with a barge passing the Overlook Restaurant in Leavenworth and beautiful sites taken on the Indiana University campus in Bloomington -- not far from his home.

There were brilliant close-ups of multi-color flowers -- some taken in his backyard, peaceful sailboats, brilliant desert sunsets, coastal and mountain landscape scenes from all over the world.

In several boxes on a table were unframed photos categorized by subject or location.

There were photos from Ireland, England, Scotland, Italy, Switzerland, the Pacific Northwest, Nova Scotia and the New England states.

It was simply an exhibition of great photo work. His use of lighting and different camera speeds to stop the motion of waterfalls was flawless.

Seeing his impressive work made me want to get some of my old images out, frame them and share them with folks, which is a goal of mine to do one of these days.

For Mac, it was the first time bringing his work to Greene County, but he noted that the drive down State Road 45 to State Road 54 to Bloomfield was simply beautiful.

He wants to do it again -- maybe at next year's show.

Mac is a well-traveled guy -- now retired from his previous stint as an audio-visual professor at Indiana University.

"We made instructional motion pictures," Fleming recalled.

He's been snapping photos since before he was a U.S. Army photographer in World War II -- where he marched with his infantry unit in Europe armed with a rifle and a small camera that was attached to a case on his belt, he explained.

Mac, a native of Oregon, recorded front-line war photos for the Army, but he didn't boast or talk about his war era experiences.

He talked photography while tapping his foot on the ground to the rock beat of the Shane Runion Band, who were performing some John Mellencamp and John Mayer tunes on the park's gazebo stage during the art show.

"I've done photography for a hobby for a long time," Mac told me.

He's been involved for years with a group that likes to hike and he enjoys going on those trips with cameras in hand -- hoping to capture a great moment on film or digital image.

"It just so happens that I can walk and got the photography opportunity," Mac said.

When I referred to his golden age, Mac quickly replied with a self-confident smile, "I've to good genes."

He admits that the pace of his photography hobby has slowed down in recent years, but he's got all of his images saved on computer .

He operates Fleming Photo Gallery at Monroe House, Room 23, 2770 South Adams Street in Bloomington.

He sells his plainly-framed signed photo art prints for $25 a piece or two for $40 -- a bargain these days.

"I use a very cheap poster frame. I want to get my pictures out so I decided this is the kind of frame I am going to use so I don't have to charge so much. I could double my price or triple it with a better frame," Mac told me. "If someone wants to put it (the photo) in a better frame they can."

Mac says his working days aren't so planned any more. He helps at Meadowood retirement community as a medical pavilion volunteer and opens his studio on a not-so-regular basis.

If you want to visit the gallery, you can give him a call at 332-3181 to find out when it's open.

The veteran photographer said he just recently joined the Bloomington Photography Club and hopes to meet other camera snapping peers and pick up some new tips.

Mac and his wife still like to travel and of course he still carries his camera -- hoping like most photographers always wanting to shoot that special photo.

"We go here, there and everyplace and occasionally I'll find something to shoot," he modestly said with a chuckle.

Mac's truly enjoying his golden years and making lasting memories in the process.

Meeting Mac, made my day. Being able to photograph him was an extra blessing.

Nick is assistant editor for the Greene County Daily World. He can be reached by telephone at 847-4487 or 1-800-947-4487; by e-mail at schneider.nick@gmail.com.

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I also met Mac at the Park, but it was not my first time. We had a chance to talk shop last year at the Gallery Walk in Bloomington. Mac is truly a blessing to talk to and his work is a joy to see.

-- Posted by deepthinker on Mon, Jun 13, 2011, at 6:24 PM

Awesome story.

-- Posted by Ethermuse on Wed, Jun 15, 2011, at 9:44 AM

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