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An Enlightened Exhibit

Local photographer brings to light 20 images of traveling paradise.

For Victoria Eichler, the art of photography comes down to three fundamental elements: Texture, light and composition. A little bit of traveling helps too. For her most recent exhibit, “Come to Light,” currently on show at the Vienna Arts Society Gallery, the photographer presents 20 images from favorite traveling destinations to show how light shapes the visual world.

“I shoot quickly,” said Eichler, an Arlington resident and art teacher at Bishop Ireton High School in Alexandria. “As we all learned from Monet, light changes every couple of moments.”

The culmination of her master’s thesis, which Eichler earned in Interdisciplinary Studies for Photography and Painting from Virginia Commonwealth University, the show features a range of images, from sun-drenched houses in California to the misty mountain tops of the Adirondacks. But the most striking, and her favorite, are the images from Bermuda, where Eichler has been vacationing since she was a child.

“Bermuda is my favorite — I wish I could do a whole show of Bermuda,” she said. “You can take a picture of a garbage can and it will come out gorgeous. The light is just unbelievable.”

Built around the idea of demonstrating the effect of light on both natural and man-made environments, Eichler juxtaposes 10 images of light and nature and 10 of light and structure. Combining wide vistas and tight, abstracted images, Eichler’s background as a painter plays a heavy influence on the images she captures as a photographer.

“I think most of my pictures come from me taking a photo so I can paint it,” she said.

ORIGINALLY FROM CONNECTICUT, Eichler’s introduction to photography began early on as a high school student, but it wasn’t until later in life that she began to take a serious interest in the medium.

“I was in high school and took my first 35mm class,” she said. “I snuck around campus to take photos of people reading on the lawn or being goofy. It was probably after I was an art teacher for a while that I started understanding composition and space.”

Inspired by teachers throughout high school, undergraduate and grad-school, Eichler has also had the opportunity to inspire students during her 18 years of teaching. In turn, they have inspired her too.

“I’ve had a lot of students to be proud of and some who have even gone onto theater and TV,” she said. “It’s so exciting to see people go on to do great things.”

For Eichler, the relief of finishing her master’s degree has now set in, but as an artist she’s always considering her next potential thematic focus. On the list of “must-see” destinations, Eichler is intrigued by Santorini, Greece and Alaska. But stepping away from this exhibit, the painter-photographer is also looking closer to home for future inspiration.

“I have a three year old so I take a lot of photos of him,” she said. “I’d like to study people more and their expressions.”

<lst>Victoria Eichler’s exhibit “Come to Light,” is currently showing through Aug. 5 at the Vienna Arts Society Gallery, 513 Maple Ave., Vienna. For more, visit www.viennaartssociety.org.