Chris Hamilton: The Spires at Berry College
Retirement: the world's longest coffee break. Older generations may see it just around the riverbend, while younger generations consider it merely a pipedream. Photographer Chris Hamilton was hired by LevLane, an agency based in Philadelphia, to shoot an emerging retirement community adjacent to a college campus in Northern Georgia. The agency was looking for a lifestyle photographer who was capable of photographing retirees in authentic environments.
Berry College is the largest college campus in the country, chiseling out a massive 27,000 acres in the Georgia mountainside. Yet, the majestic, Hogwarts-esque campus is home to only a little over 2,000 students. With as much land as the Walt Disney World Resort, leaders of the university deliberated opportunities for its nonacademic land holdings.
Worried that amusement rides and castles might distract students from their course load, Berry College opted to construct a retirement community. Slated to open in 2019, The Spires at Berry college is a retirement community that will have 150 independent living condominiums and cottages.
Chris’s project was to comprise a series of photographs that simulated what life would be like for the inaugural members, although I don’t think it’ll be difficult to persuade them to go back to college. Forty-some odd years later, retirees will be replacing the Ramen noodles and cheap beer for strolls through wooded trails and unparalleled access to local cuisine.
Chris's constant communication with Rita, the producer, enabled Chris to get a lay of the land prior to the actual shoot.
The first couple hours of the day walking around a new place with a camera in my hand is a great place to be. It's important to escape into my own visual world without guidelines or restrictions.
The threat of rain loomed for days up until the shoot, leaving poor Chris perpetually looking up towards the clouds hoping Mother Nature would cooperate. Because of this, he had to remain flexible, keeping his plans fluid enough that he would be able to adapt to the weather conditions. Luckily, it was nothing but blue skies and sunshine for Chris and his team.
Chris's photos were met with unbridled enthusiasm from everybody, although I doubt anybody could hold a candle to the creative director’s exclamatory reaction:
"BAM! That's what I'M TALKING ABOUT! It is friggin' awesome!"
Chris hopes that he will return for another shoot in the Fall. Spending the most beautiful season in the Georgia mountains doesn’t sound too shabby.
To view more of Chris' work, visit hamphoto.com