Benincas usually shoots at the end of the day "because I like the light at that time," preferably with his Nikon F5 and F100. "I use the D100 for test shots, but I love my F100. The only filter I use is the Skylight, to protect my lens," adds Benincas, whose gear bag also includes Nikon Speedlights SB-28 and SB-28DX, along with 20mm, 28-200mm, 75-300mm, and 24-120mm Nikkor lenses. None of his images are digitally enhanced.
Benincas's optimism and perseverance have paid off. In just a few years, he has generated about 18,000 marketable slides for his own use, and for sale to outlets around Connecticut, Nantucket, and Cape Cod. His landscapes have graced the pages of The New York Times, Glamour, Better Homes & Gardens, as well as Hagstrom and Rand-McNally maps, and Hallmark cards. It's appeared in brochures for American Express, books such as Gallery Books New England and America the Beautiful, and on calendars such as the one he did for Brown Trout Publishers.
His landscapes have also opened other doors. Benincas has received a fair share of wedding business from his postcards. It's also "allowing me to expand into doing model portfolios, composites, and headshots," notes Benincas.
New England Photo has generated more than $150,000 in revenue for the tax year. Given that kind of return, he hopes to make this part-time business full-time when he retires from Yale in a few years.
"When I make this my full-time business, I'll get the whole Connecticut shoreline, from Mystic to Greenwich," he offers. But, for now, he stays with the shoreline that spans eight or nine towns including New Haven, Madison, Old Lyme, as well as Yale, and continues to shoot Cape Cod, Nantucket, Boston, and New York. One of his New York images—a tour boat passing under the Brooklyn Bridge with the World Trade Center in the background—was published in a 9/11 memorial calendar.
Benincas wants to start featuring more people in his landscapes. He actually has a particular shot in mind. "I want to capture a Connecticut artist on the beach in a white shirt and jeans, sitting at an easel with one of my photographs blown up to look like he's painting it," he says.
No doubt he'll have his image before the weather turns frosty.
Thomas P. Benincas, Jr., freelance photographer, ASMP member, and business manager at Yale University for Administration, owns New England Photo (www.nephotoct.com) of Madison, CT.