BRENTWOOD — A year-long project to shoot images from all 37 communities in Rockingham County took Epping photographer Charles Cormier to places he’d never seen before.
One such stop was in Newton, where he visited for the first time to snap photos of a Hayford carriage that had to be wheeled out of a historical museum on planks in 95-degree heat.
“I never would have known what was there,” he said of the town, where Edward Hayford & Son was the largest of several carriage makers during the late 1800s.
Cormier’s work is now part of a mural hanging in the entrance to the Rockingham County Rehabilitation and Nursing Center that was unveiled last week.
One image from each town was selected and included in the mural, which has been the talk of the county complex as employees and other visitors have stopped to check out the images and look for the one that represents their hometown.
“They wanted a photo for every town in Rockingham County and they wanted locations that are iconic for each town, something that gives back to the community. For Portsmouth they wanted Market Square because obviously that area gives a lot to Portsmouth,” said Cormier, owner of Charles Cormier Photography.
County commissioners approved the $12,000 project, which was suggested by Commissioner Kevin St. James after he saw a hand-drawn mural in Merrimack County a couple of years ago.
“I thought it would be nice for Rockingham County to do something similar as a testament to all 37 towns in one of the Top 10 counties in the country,” St. James said, referring to rankings by the real estate site Movoto that takes a look at unemployment rate, income, rent, home prices, poverty level and high school graduation.
Towns provided some input on the locations that should be included in the mural, which covered all four seasons during daytime and nighttime.
Cormier also provided other black and white photographs with images from the towns that hang on walls in the rehabilitation wing.
The project was fun, he said, but challenging.
He said he had to be creative because some spots weren’t so photogenic. Cormier shot in different weather conditions and at different times of day to see what looked best.
In Hampstead, the 33-year-old Cormier wasn’t sure how to make a Paul Revere bell look more interesting so he decided to wait for a full moon to capture the best image.
For Salem, an image from Canobie Lake Park was used.
“I hadn’t been there since high school,” said Cormier, who grew up in Portsmouth.
Cormier had to be patient to get some of his shots. He spent about 90 minutes watching a storm rolling in before capturing an image of a lightning strike at Great Bay Discovery Center in Greenland.
He also spent time hanging around Massabesic Lake in Auburn during a wild storm that created 2-foot swells, he said.
Cormier had to make a few trips to East Kingston to photograph an Amtrak train passing by at the old depot.
“It definitely changed my idea of what is photogenic,” he said.