News Column

Photographer's snap judgment: peace for a day

June 16, 2014

By Bob Jarzomski, Erie Times-News, Pa.

June 16--Ron Vollentine is old-school. As a photographer, his philosophy is straightforward, and the complexities of his art come together in black and white.

Consider his photos, including those in a yearlong project on Facebook.

Today, on the 167th day of 2014, Vollentine will post the 167th photo he's taken of an individual, couple or group flashing a sign or a symbol of peace.

"I'm not the most outgoing person, so photography is the best way I communicate with people," said Vollentine, 42. His New Year's resolution became PeaceResolution 2014, with a peace photo to be posted on Facebook every day. The website address is

"I run a business (Von Rollen Photography), but I don't do this (PeaceResolution project) for money," Vollentine said. "I've been bummed out by all of the violence in this world, and in our city, so I thought that this is a way to promote the advocates dedicated to end violence."

One of his shots came from the top of the tower at Dobbins Landing. Below, 73 people formed a circular peace symbol.

"I got some chalk and drew the symbol, and they formed a peace sign, which was really cool," Vollentine said.

Why in black and white?

"Colors sometimes get in the way in a photo," he said. "With black and white, certain things stand out much more clearly. Clouds for instance, are much sharper in black and white."

Vollentine, who got his first camera at 17, owns a 1980s tripod camera with which he takes 4-by-5-inch shots. He also obtained digital equipment a few years ago from his longtime fiancee, Carolyn Cocco.

"I'm still old-school enough that I develop photos in a darkroom in my basement," Vollentine said.

He's traveled to capture stoppages of time, and in 2013 in New York City connected with actor Jamie Foxx, who directed a 10-minute film under the watchful eye of director Ron Howard, both Academy Award winners.

"Canon USA ran an event called Project Imaginat10n, with actors directing short films, and Jamie Foxx used a photo of mine of a kid with stuff dripping from his face (titled 'Ewwww.') That helped inspire a 10-minute film called '...And She Was My Eve,' " Vollentine said.

Vollentine proudly displays photos of musicians from Erie, as well as musicians and comedians who visit here.

He supports organizations such as Mothers Against Teen Violence, and its founder Sonya Arrington, which helped fuel his New Year's resolution and his project to promote peace.

"I've taken photos of ordinary people, celebrities, politicians -- even homeless people," Vollentine said. "For one person who obliges, five might walk away. But I don't give up -- my goal is to post one photo per day to get the message across."

BOB JARZOMSKI can be reached at 870-1678 or by e-mail. Follow him on Twitter at


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Source: Erie Times-News (PA)

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