WMUR-TV’s NH Chronicle recently did a segment on New Hampshire-based time traveling photographers, including Karen Jerzyk Photography. In the Lonely Astronaut series, Jerzyk explores what it would be like for an astronaut to come down to earth and see how people live and what things look like. One of Jerzyk’s favorite places to take photos is Red Arrow Diner!
Jean Mackin does some traveling. They are visions of Victorian elegance. A fleeting moment frolicking in a field. A winter glance frozen in time. These photos from seemingly so long ago, are the newest creations from Isabella Melia, focusing on her collection of authentic 1800s gowns.
“I get questions, where did you get that dress? I have not seen anything like that. Well, it is one-of-a-kind. I hope you have not seen anything like it.”
Isabel has a growing collection of dresses worn lifetimes ago.
“I don’t think ruffles will ever die out. They come to me in rough shape and some of them are de-accessed museum pieces. I wonder, where have you been? What have you done?”
She brings the fabric, the ribbons, and petticoats back to life, sometimes needing tiny models to fit these dresses.
“The smallest one I have has a waistline of 22 inches. Event with a corset, it is very hard to find models that fit them. On the model it does fit, she is a working ballerina. She is very lean, very elegant.”
Isabel has had a camera in her hand since she was twelve years old, collecting vintage cameras to capture Victorian and vintage clothing. She likes to highlight diversity on her photo shoots.
“It is nice to see different types of people. I think it is very important to show, especially young girls, or anyone who is still working out their self-esteem, hey, this can be you, too. It is beautiful on everyone. I wanted to bring that romantic touch to everybody, and that goes along with using all types of models. Everyone fangirls when they put it on. It looks so cool.”
Isabel travels back and forth between her home in New Hampshire and New York, where she graduated college and found some spots for photo shoots that transcend time.
“Beaches, cliffs, meadows, farms. I like sharing my art and putting little twists on it, trying new things.”
Photographer, Karen Jerzyk, takes one giant leap into a futuristic world. Launching on another photo shoot for her series, the Lonely Astronaut.
“A vision one day, I was daydreaming about what would happen if maybe 100 years from now, we could not breathe the air on earth. Humanity had to leave the planet. I had this image of this astronaut, the one lone astronaut. They come down to earth just to explore how people lived and what things look like.”
We set out on a mission with Karen and her astronaut model for this shoot to see how she keeps all the humanity out of the photos, except for one lonely astronaut, going to locations, super late at night or in the morning.
She snapped the images quickly before people and traffic move in. A few minutes by the satellite dish and Karen locks in this stunning storyline.
“I like taking pictures of mundane everyday places that thousands of people pass in a day. I’m looking at it in a different light and hopefully they can, too. One of my favorite places around here is the Red Arrow Diner. No matter where I am in the U.S., people are like, the Red Arrow. I just love old theaters, too.
You really get a feel for Karen’s inspiration inside her studio, stepping into giant sets and back in time.
“It’s a lot of extensions of myself and my creativity, things I love to collect. I was born in the 1980s, so I am obsessed with the 80s. There’s a lot of wallpaper and toys from the 80s, a lot of sci-fi stuff going on.”
Karen saved up for several authentic suits and helmets from high flight to NASA fuel handler suits. When the pandemic set in, she blasted off with her lonely astronaut.
“I was able to go to Times Square and take wide angle shots of the astronaut with absolutely no one in it. That was very surreal. Definitely the most surreal moment of my life.”
Karen and the spacesuit have traveled the country.
“It’s a place in Virginia called the Presidents Heads. This giant, rotting bust of Washington.”
Telling universal stories.
“You don’t know if it is a man or a woman, what age they are. It is a character that everyone can see themselves in.”
She always loves to land back home in New Hampshire to highlight her favorite place on this planet.
“A lot of astronaut photos are just standing there or sitting, almost in a contemplative manner. I get to take life a little slower and be aware of your surroundings, and, that there’s a lot of beauty, no matter where you are. There’s always cool stuff to look at. Cool stuff to explore and be curious about.