From a photography career centered around fashion and advertising in New York and California to capturing moving portraits and magical scenes in Ireland EJ Carr says that his years spent living in Ireland have expanded his “creative portal.” The collections he published upon returning to the US say it all.
Carr’s story of how he came to live in West Cork three years is one that will resonate and seem idyllic to many Americans and Irish Americans who dream of doing the same.
He told IrishCentral, “My wife Sarah is American born with Irish citizenship. Her mum is from Kinsale and her father’s family is from Killarney.
“She has always wanted to live in a remote area for a bit of time, to slow it all down.”
Having searched online and considered going to Cornwall in southern England, they came across a rental in the village of Kilcrohane in West Cork where they took up residence for a family vacation. After their summer fling with Ireland they returned home, but by Christmas had decided to sell their New Jersey home and head back to Ireland for a year, which eventually turned into three years.
Carr and his family returned to Kilcrohane and lived in the same house they had rented, originally built by American expats in the 1980s.
He said the next three years were filled with “many twists and turns and stories and events and golden moments.
“My girls went to school in the village and we made lifetime friends. My heart has been stolen by the Ireland I experienced.
“My creative portal was expanded and I will never be the same.”
After three years in Ireland Carr and his family returned home, but after his experiences in Ireland he had accrued a large body of work which he published in his book “Land Water Sky: Ireland.”
Also while in Ireland he began the “Arthurian Project,” a collection of portraits which all started on the Sheepshead Peninsula in Kilcorhane.
Carr said, “The Arthurian Project was/is my most proud work, even in the light of my career in New York, in fashion and advertising and work in the music industry.”
He was inspired by “the weathered faces, wild eyes, big spirit and life force” in the people’s faces he encountered.
“I wanted to do a series of portraits of the men there as a project, not knowing what it could turn into. I invited a man to my studio to do a "test" shoot to begin the series,” Carr said.
After a week of tweaking the image and staring at the portrait on his wall Carr said, “It hit me that the image I created was the image I've held of King Arthur for my whole adult life.
“Everything changed after that. I looked around again and started to see the characters of the Arthur Legend everywhere in the village and on the peninsula. The story took off and I had the characters to create it.”
Carr spent no money on the project and used all his models' existing wardrobes. His project is still going on in the US. More of these images can be seen here.
*Originally published in August 2014.