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Larchmont Native Captures Passion For Life In Photographs

Straus in action.
Straus in action. Photo Credit: Contributed
Phil Straus, Margaret Harris, and the leader of the Refugee All-Stars in Sierra Leone. Photo credit: Rick Wilson
Phil Straus, Margaret Harris, and the leader of the Refugee All-Stars in Sierra Leone. Photo credit: Rick Wilson Photo Credit: Contributed
A photograph of the tour-guide at Goree.
A photograph of the tour-guide at Goree. Photo Credit: Phil Straus

LARCHMONT, N.Y. -- Phil Straus uses photographs to communicate his excitement for the world.

The Larchmont native, now of Philadelphia, grew up on Mohegan Road and left Larchmont after graduating high school.

After obtaining bachelor's degrees in psychology and social relations, and two master's degrees in engineering, he embarked on what has now become a 35-year career as a serious photographer.

"Photography aids me in keeping my eyes open and seeing all these interesting things. Figuring out how to turn them into a very cool, two-dimensional image is a challenge that I love to do," he said.

Straus, who was a full-time professional photographer for 10 years, still exhibits his own work from time to time.

The photographs he took on a recent National Geographic excursion are currently on display at the Mamaroneck Library's Warner Gallery.

The trip was taken on a ship that voyaged from Cape Town, South Africa to Marakesh, Morocco and stopped at every country that wasn't "at war," - which amounted to 17.

Straus pointed out a particular picture from the set that best encapsulated his mission as a photographer.

The photo is of a man in front of an iron gate on an island off the coast of Senegal called Goree. The man was giving the group a tour of the island, and asked Straus questions about the United States.

"He asked me how we could think we are descended from chimpanzees if there are still chimpanzees around. To me, this is a pretty interesting conversation on an island off the coast of Senegal," he said.

The man shared with him the history of slavery and religion in Senegal, standing in front of fence of a church.

"I had three seconds to figure out how to fit all the amazing things that were happening into one image," he said. "Making the viewer feel as excited as I was during the event is what makes one of my photographs a success."

Straus has photographed weddings and events for many years, but was pleased to say that, at his 29-year-old daughter's wedding this past Saturday, he didn't pick up his camera once.

"It is the first wedding I've attended where I have not taken a single picture. I really wanted to participate in the moment," he said.

Straus lives with his wife in Philadelphia and has two adult children. When he isn't studying mathematics for fun at the University of Pennsylvania, he is serving as the chairman of the board of directors at Mother Jones.

Straus will be holding a reception for his exhibit at the Mamaroneck Public Library on Sunday Oct. 19 from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. The exhibit will be on displayed in the Warner Gallery lower level from Oct. 1 to Nov. 2.

The Mamaroneck Public Library is located at 136 Prospect Avenue,

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