Montgomery, IL based photographer Randy Benzie considers his work to live somewhere in the space between the technical craft of photography and the more traditional art form of painting. Fueled by an admiration for the lighting in old world paintings, especially those of the Dutch Masters like Vermeer, and an equal fondness for nostalgia, Randy's aim is to paint with light each time he hits a shutter release.
Randy is a well-known artist around the Aurora Area, with an exhibition at the Paramount Theatre’s Grand Gallery running through March 3rd, 2017. The Aurora Historical Society chose ten of Randy’s images of historic buildings, architecture, sculptures, and street scenes to feature on their 2016/2017 postcards. Randy has also been a constant presence in the Downtown Aurora art scene, with several First Fridays gallery exhibitions under his belt.
We asked Randy if we could use some of our favorite of his pieces in this week’s takeover of our Instagram account at @EnjoyAurora and met with him at the spacious patio at River’s Edge Café on an unseasonably warm afternoon to talk about his work and the unique charms of the Aurora Area. You can see more of Randy's photography on Facebook, Instagram, and Viewbug.
EnjoyAurora: What’s your favorite thing about making your art in the Aurora Area?
Randy Benzie: Pinpointing one specific thing is impossible. The Fox River runs through and connects many of the small towns and cities in the region. Each one has their own history and presence. I can drive a 20-mile radius around Aurora and photograph everything from wildlife to historic architecture, restored prairie, and rural farm scenes. Every day is a new opportunity
EnjoyAurora: What’s surprised you the most on your journeys around the Aurora Area to shoot your photography? What sets it apart from other places?
Randy Benzie: I love the hunt for subjects as much as I do capturing them, so driving around solo or with a photographer friend is something I enjoy doing. I do make day trips a bit further out for specific subjects, but also take different routes to and from these places to see what may hit me that day depending on the weather. While much of what I photograph is seen daily by many locals there are times when people will ask me where something I’ve photographed is located even though they’ve lived in the area their whole lives. That’s where the element of surprise comes in. Just the sheer diversity of subjects. It’s all there if you look. I just try to give my own take on it. There’s a lot to see in this area.
EnjoyAurora: Are there any specific sights you’d recommend to visitors? Any advice you’d offer photographers who travel to the Aurora Area?
Randy Benzie: I enjoy most of the “mom and pop” shops and restaurants in the region. One of my favorite cozy little places in Downtown Aurora is right here, the River’s Edge Café, for a cup of coffee, tea, or a light lunch, and the view from the patio overlooking the Fox River. I definitely suggest taking advantage of walking around Downtown Aurora, Batavia, and North Aurora. Along the Fox River in any of these towns you’ll find parks or river walks to enjoy. They’re all very walkable and you’ll be surprised by the scenery given how close we are to Chicago.
Thanks again to Randy for sharing his time and his work with us. You can follow Randy on: