When Arra Riggs and I arrived at D. Paul Graham’s “Rev’s and Redlines: eMotion in Motion” at Cedar House Gallery on November 11, we walk in to find Paul smiling at his lady-love Lee Ann Polonus. Before I take their pic and make a lap around to see his large-format photos, let me tell you a little bit about Canada’s greatest export.
Paul’s Facebook profile gives you a brief description: “unabashed deal junkie, traveler, car-nut, inspired by light and life”. But what it doesn’t give you is how sincerely polite this native Canadian is, always with the best manners. This isn’t the only thing that stands out when you meet Paul, it’s his world famous, never-been-shaved handlebar mustache.
Many moons ago I would run across Paul at events and chat about cars, cameras and travel. Fast forward to early 2017 when I made a call to “South” Magazine to tell publisher Michael Brooks that I had the best present ever–an introduction to one of the best photographers in town. This may be my best connection in a lifetime of introducing people to who they need to know.
Okay, no more Paul praising, but a photo instead, with him and his girlfriend Lee Ann. The naturally curly haired brunette then asks for a pic with her daughter Emily, a wellness counselor with a love of yoga, essential oils and health. I then head over to hug long-last-seen Ann Carroll. Tybee Island’s yoga queen is obviously anti-aging because Ann looks younger than she did the last time I saw her!
As Ann volunteers to serve spirits and snacks, I chat with a new face, Zi “Sonic” Zhu, the owner of Sonic Motorsports at Roebling Road Raceway. Learning that he designs, repairs, services and manufactures all types of race cars, I ask how he met Paul. “I followed him on Instagram and through Speedbourne / Ferrari where I am a crew member and Paul handles the photography and social media/marketing,” shares the Savannah College of Art & Design industrial design grad.
After a pic of him with his eight year old son Mach, I head into the Cedar House Gallery office area to meet Sam Williams. The gallery director is also a photographer and artist, aka Sam Cole, has wicked cool art on the wall behind her and is absolutely gorgeous!
Arriving next is Amazon bigwig Eilis Murphy and her equally photogenic friend Amy Growe, smiling couple Samuel and Berta Adams and one of the most fascinating dudes in town, Michael Shortt. From cars, film, building anything, to politics and collecting toys with Oglethorpe Driving Club, you can always count on Michael for a spirited opinion on any topic!
Up next is my Step One Automotive Group “other brother” Jon Oppenheimer. Equally as talented as Paul, Jon wins the award for best overall beard and gets a little bashful when I praise his videography talents to Tamra Lee and Arra. Telling Arra to get video tips from Jon for her new reel passion project, I head over to the front door to snap pics of new arrivals.
Yes! Walking through the door is wine and travel aficionado Meg Pace and her chill husband Tom. A fan since day one of a lady that loves her animals, taking photos of her first grandson and keeping us updated on the weather, I grab her for a long hug then pose her with Tom and Paul. Walking with her over to my favorite photo, we admire “Racing in the Rain”, a monochromatic limited edition print taken in a torrential downpour during a Sunday race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Finally! Paul has a few minutes to chat about tonight’s uber successful first photo showing. Answering my question of what prompted him to get out from behind the camera, Paul responds, “I turned 60 years old this month and just wanted to share my passion for automobiles and lifestyle images from here and abroad. My mom gave me my first camera at 13 and I wanted to give a contribution to our local Alzheimer's chapter in her memory.”
As I walk past image after image on framed metallic paper, glass and aluminum, I recall Paul’s comments about each photo, “Every image is like a child to me. Each one evokes a memory of where I was and what I was experiencing at the time.” For me, photos give me a snapshot of life, they make memories immortal and they are the reason I love my life in Savannah so much. And like Paul, we document history, whether personal or professional and are privileged to see this city from behind the lens!