Through the Lens

By Haley Burton

August 13, 2012 Updated Aug 14, 2012 at 10:45 AM EDT

(WBNG Binghamton) Ed Aswad's love for photography began in Binghamton more than 60 years ago.

In that time, he has captured the Southern Tier, producing hundreds of thousands of photographs. Aswad is now moving to North Carolina to what he calls to his next journey.

"I'm going there to pretty much re-invent myself. There's some opportunities down there around Fort Bragg. I may get back into the military photography again," said Aswad.

His professional photography career began in 1954 and he has been clicking his camera intensely since. But before that, he developed a passion for photography while in high school at Binghamton North.

"The spark began when I was pedaling papers for the Binghamton press. There was an incentive to get new customers and I received a box camera," said Aswad.

After graduating high school, he enlisted in the Army in 1954 and became an Army photographer stationed in Honolulu, HI, This began his professional photography career.

"After discharge, I went into General Electric and became an industrial research and development photographer. That was very challenging industry," said Aswad.

He then joined a partnership in Carriage House Photography with Fred Snyder. He eventually bought out the business.

"The rest is pretty much history in that I covered this area intensely, both industrial and domestically and also a lot of scenic photographs," he said.

Aswad has written multiple history books because "history and photography go together." Many of those books have been co-authored by Suzanne Meredith, the Town of Union Historian.

"He and I have written several books together. I do the writing and I use pictures from his vast collection," said Meredith, "He has certainly captured the history of the area as it has progressed over the last 60 years."

Aswad has photographed many famous people including Billy Graham, three Presidents that visited the Southern Tier and many local dignitaries.

"The first Governor I ever photographed was Rockefeller. That's how far back it goes," said Aswad, "Some of the events I've covered were the Grand Prix in Elmira."

He captured some of his most dramatic images during the floods of 2006 and 2011. All of his pictures taken from a helicopter are documented in two books.

"You think beyond what most people see. You keep your cool and you're in helicopter with no door on it. You're just concentrating on the event. There's things you see in the air you don't see on the ground," said Aswad.

He has also photographed the many champions and sights of the BC Open, now the Dick's Sporting Goods Open.

"That is a very rewarding event. It's challenging to photograph someone hitting a ball so you concentrate on that spectators and all the other sidebar events that are going on," said Aswad.

Aswad says, one highlight of his profession, is the special privileges of a photographer.

"Whereas everyone is behind the tape, keeping back but make way for the photographer. You're a celebrity in your own right," he said, "It's a profession that covers all professions. For example, one day you're in a farm photographing a cow and the next day you're photographing a president. Then the next day you're photographing an engineer."

Aswad said he will miss the Southern Tier and the people he's met and photographed.

"Every day is a new adventure, especially meeting people. I know so many people in this area and everyone is so terrific," he said. "It's always a challenge to meet somebody and get them to laugh because a lot of people take life too serious. I think laughing is the key to longevity. Once you laugh, all of the pressure is off."

One of Aswad's last photography events scheduled in the Southern Tier is the Dick's Sporting Goods Open, August 17-19, 2012.