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Caldwells Photographer Travels The Globe, But Never Forgets Local History

Kean University is now exhibiting Bruce White's photographs in a solo show.

Photographer Bruce White, a Caldwells native, seen in the Green Room at the White House.
Photographer Bruce White, a Caldwells native, seen in the Green Room at the White House.

Photographer Bruce White, a Caldwells native, has traveled as near as the Grover Cleveland Birthplace Museum to as far as the the sun drenched cities along the Mediterranean Sea to capture his images.

His latest wanderings will take him to Kean University to feature his photographs in a solo show that is now open to the public.  

White grew up in the Caldwells in the 1970s. He is a self-taught photographer but he got his start learning under longtime Caldwells photographer Joe Hauser.

“That’s where I really got interested in photography," said White. 

As a sophomore in a private high school in East Orange, White answered a small ad seeking a photographer’s assistant in the local Caldwells newspaper, The Progress. 

White worked with Hauser during the summers, and said, “That’s how I learned how to do what I do."

“Hauser was quite elderly when I worked with him so he needed a young guy to carry his equipment around and set up his lighting,” said White, “but that’s how I learned how to do location photography, which is what I’ve continued to do my whole career.”

White carried his interest in photography with him to Columbia University where he studied classical music and played the French horn. He never stopped practicing photography, though, and he continued to work with many of Hauser’s clients when Hauser wasn’t available. 

White eventually gave up studying classical music and dedicated himself full-time to becoming a photographer.   

“At one point I realized I was a much better photographer than a horn player,” White said with a laugh.

The interest in location photography that he had learned under Hauser took White around the world to photograph architecture, objects in museums and city streets. Among his diverse clients are artist Frank Stella, Princeton University’s art museums and the White House Historical Association. 

White moved back into the Caldwells in the mid-1990s. He has an avid interest in local history, and is a member of the Grover Clevealnd Birthplace Museum Board.

He also helped organize a local history archive at the Caldwell Public Library while he was a board member there. The archive features the works of Gene Collerd, another longtime and well-known photographer.

“That’s something I’m really passionate about: promoting local history,” said White.  

In addition to preserving local history, White was able to feature it nationwide.

A 2012 issue of White House History featured the fashions of the First Ladies. For that issue, White held a photo shoot at the Grover Cleveland Birthplace Museum and featured clothing worn by Frances Cleveland, whom President Grover Cleveland married while he was in office in 1886.

Watch a short video about White House History’s issue on First Ladies fashions on YouTube by clicking here.

The 2012 issue of White House History featuring clothing worn by Frances Cleveland can also be found at the birthplace museum.

While White travels abroad for work, he also takes photos for himself. He typically focuses on European city street scenes in England, Paris or along the Mediterranean Sea. 

“I usually focus on the architecture,” said White. “There are people in the photo but people are not the main focus. It’s the atmosphere and the light and the architecture that I’m trying to show.”

Some of those photos are now on display in White’s solo show, titled “Cityscapes: Windows & Panoramas,” at Kean University in The Nancy Dryfoos Gallery.

White said he prefers exhibiting his work in a gallery because he can hear feedback from the audience, which is more infrequent when his work is published in a book.  

“It’s always really exciting to share your personal work with a local audience,” said White. “

To view White’s work, click here. 

Kean University, at 1,000 Morris Ave., Union, will exhibit White’s work through Feb. 26. A reception will take place Saturday, Jan. 25, from 3-5 p.m. 

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