Artist of the Issue: Ben Calmas


Finn Lynch '19

Ben poses with his camera.

According to Ben Calmas ’18, “something clicked” the first time he looked through a camera lens. At Groton, he has most recently contributed his artwork as Photography Editor for The Circle Voice  (CV) and through his work on senior portraits this spring.

Ben took photo classes for all three terms of his fourth form year, starting out in Photo 1, where he says he learned “basic skills and film photography.” This year, as a senior, Ben has taken three terms of Photo Workshop. Photo Workshop is a more advanced course where students design their own syllabus based on their interests. Currently, Ben’s artistic interests include self-portraits, analog photography of New York City, restoring slides from 1953, cyanotypes, and senior portraits. Ben described his photography as a good distraction from his heavy course load at Groton.

Before coming to Groton, Ben practiced photography recreationally. “I mostly just took pictures of my friends and family,” he said. “My sisters and I would take a lot of photos in our backyard.” Ben’s earliest memories of photography are fresh in his mind: “I remember playing around with old disposable cameras when I was very little. My parents would give them to me after they had sent the film off to be developed and I would play with the dial and go around photographing my siblings. Other than that, my siblings got me really interested when they used me as a subject for their photo assignments.”

What motivates Ben to pursue photography is his desire to share his work with others, most consistently showcasing his work with the CV. As the 2017-2018 Photography Editor, Ben assigned all of the article graphic needs to staff members and edited photographs and cartoons in Photoshop before they were put into the newspaper’s layout. He says his favorite part of this “was seeing some of the newer photographers get really excited when their photo was published, especially because the photos were getting better throughout the year.” In addition to working with the CV, Ben also contributed sports photography to the yearbook.

Most recently, Ben has been working on senior portraits. Senior portraits are an important Groton tradition that commemorates and celebrates the seniors. Ben has been hard at work photographing every member of the 2018 graduating class, alongside fellow photographer Elle Despres ’18. Layla McDermott ’18 noted that, “He really knew what he was doing. We walked around to find good lighting and the photos turned out really well.”

Besides photography, Ben has also pursued his passion for improvisational comedy, or improv, at Groton. “I was at a summer camp at Yale between third and fourth form and one of the classes that I signed up for was Improvisation Comedy,” he explained. “Everyone in that class meshed really well and we all still talk in our group text. We had a performance that was very fun to do and it felt entirely natural.” After his summer camp, Ben started an Improv Club at Groton so that students who had three terms of sports, like him, could get involved in the theater. Alongside Ben, An Nguyen and Jamie Jiang ’18 served as heads for the club. Jamie said, “[Ben] is consistently a good team player. He regularly organizes the meetings, leads us in games, and gets wacky. His barefoot shenanigans are one of the biggest sources of laughter in Improv Club. Ben can seriously take a joke and run with it and he is unafraid to be strange.”

The combination of photographic and improvisation abilities set Ben apart as a unique and artistic voice on Groton’s campus.