Flying Whale Studios: Merging dreams with reality

Kevin Schoonover created Flying Whale Studios to create and share interpretations of the world around him.

Where does the name “Flying Whale Studios” come from? 

I love whales. I’m a huge whale nut. I studied them in Hawaii in the 1980s and I hope to see all the major species in the Flying Whale Studioswild before I die. The image of a Humpback whale, with its outstretched lateral flukes, whether gently swimming under the waves or dramatically breaching through them, suggests flight. The absurd idea of such a mammoth creature taking to the air has a dreamlike quality. This is what I strive for in my photos — the idea of a dream or a memory.

What inspired you to become a professional photographer?

The compulsion to document and the desire to share.

How did you get your start in photography? Louder Sang the Ghost

In 1983, after taking some introductory courses at RIT, my grandmother gave me my first SLR camera, and an entire darkroom set-up to go with it. When I mentioned to her then that I was having trouble finding a place to buy a “safe” light bulb, she opened a drawer in a cabinet in her living room, dug back a ways, and pulled one out that she and my grandfather had last used in the 1940s developing his pictures. “You mean one of these,” she asked mischievously.

What types of products do you offer?

My current work revolves around two major subjects: The seashore and abandoned rural buildings. The joy and freedom and color one associates with the beach juxtaposed against the washed-out sadness of empty barns and houses appeals to me. There is a dreamy nostalgia for a time that never really existed.

What’s one thing people may not already know about you?

I am not a photojournalist. My work is not exactly as the world appears but more how I wish it were. Or how it could be. Or how it might have been. Or not. I strive for a version of reality rather than reality itself. Contrary to popular belief, the camera does lie. I dabble in a variety of post-production techniques that affect color, contrast, clarity, etc. I believe it is the job of the artist to interpret the world, not just report on it.

What feedback have you received from showcasing your work?

The response has been incredibly favorable and very gratifying. I have an image of young Mennonite women frolicking in the ocean surf that, practically without fail, generates broad smiles and squeals of delight. Making people happy and eliciting such strong, positive emotions is a great feeling.

Littoral Women

What should attendees expect to see from you at this year’s Festival?

I have a variety of limited-edition photographs, signed and numbered, in three basic sizes. Many are framed; all are matted. I also carry a line of blank photo cards.

Where/how can people purchase your work?

Images are always available at

2011 Exhibition of work: “Abandoment Issues” at Stomping Grounds in Geneva (June 25-August 27)

2011 Exhibits: Syracuse Arts & Crafts Festival (July 29-31), Arts at the Gardens in Canandaigua (August 20 & 21), Clothesline Festival in Rochester (September 10 & 11), Quaker Arts Festival in Orchard Park (September 17 & 18), Naples Grape Festival (September 24 & 25), Ithaca Apple Harvest Festival (October 1 & 2), Letchworth Arts & Craft Show (October 8-10), Canandaigua Christkindl Market (November 11-13), Holiday Bazaar Arts & Crafts Sale in Rochester (November 18-20)