Local photographer’s professional journey subject of new exhibit

July 12, 2021 | G. Michael Dobbs

SPRINGFIELD – For photographer Chris Marion, his one-day photo exhibit is a way to share his career as a photographer.

Marion will exhibit more than 150 of his images in “From the 413 to the NBA” on July 17 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Gasoline Alley, 250 Albany St.

He described the show as featuring photos the include “Springfield’s September 11th Monument, from its beginnings to its dedication, basketball legends, today’s top players, and icons of the entertainment industry who are basketball fans, and some of Springfield’s own legends.”

Marion’s career as a photographer started in 2003 when he “started to get serious” about photography. He became a full-time freelancer in 2015.

He explained to Reminder Publishing that Joe Sibilia, who owns the Gasoline Alley business complex, approached him about the possibility of staging an exhibit.

“It’s hard to say ‘no’ to Joe, Marion said with a smile.

Sibilia then showed him an area with 5,000 square feet of space and asked if Marion would consider exhibiting images from the many he has taken for the NBA – a professional association that is more than 10 years in duration. He has photographed basketball across the United States, Canada, Japan, and in the NBA’s G League’s COVID-19 bubble in 2021.

While he wanted the exhibit to feature his NBA work, he also wanted to include images taken at various events in his hometown of Springfield.

“[The title] ‘From the 413 to the NBA’ is two exhibits in one,” he said. “It’s a metaphor for my journey.”

Marion’s association with professional basketball started with approaching the Springfield Armor – Springfield’s team in what was then known as the NBA D league – about being the team photographer. “I just asked,” he said,

That job attracted the attention of the NBA itself.

“It still feels like a dream that I grew up in the birthplace of basketball and now I get to help document the game at such a high level,” he said.

He said what is attractive about shooting basketball games is the same attraction of photographing concerts – the energy of the performers and the reaction of the audience.

“It’s an adrenaline rush,” he explained.

Shooting concerts for MGM Springfield, he said he “fell in love” with concert photography.

His work has received accolades from many people including from Spirit of Springfield President Judy Matt, who said, “In 2017, we had the pleasure of working with Chris for the first time for the reopening of Springfield’s Union Station. He has since captured the essence of our events and the many faces of those in attendance.  When I told him about Springfield’s September 11th Monument, he was quick to volunteer his services to document the evolution of the monument and its dedication.”

Sarah Moore, vice president of Corporate Brand Marketing with MGM Resorts International, noted, “From before we opened our doors to the present, Chris continues to be an asset to MGM Springfield. He has consistently captured the best of MGM through his incredible images, exceeding all of our photography standards. I think one of his most memorable series of photos is of the Dropkick Murphy’s concert taken during our opening weekend in 2018. A memory I’ll never forget.”

Marion shoots mostly digital images, but he still works in film. He said his recent job with the G league involved taking photos of individual players. The league consented in allowing him to shoot using both mediums and the results were impressive. He explained the filmed images had warmer tones, which he said were “delicious.”

He noted traditional film is making a resurgence among photographers, not unlike the renewed interest of recordings on vinyl.

The exhibit will includes images in a variety of sizes from 8 by 10s, to a 9-foot vinyl banner. He is hoping that in the future he can stage the exhibit in other venues.

During the exhibit, White Lion Brewing will host a beer garden and there will be live music in the afternoon. A variety of food trucks will also be on site. Admission is free to the exhibit, but prints, posters, and merchandise will be available for purchase.

Marion said he had a modest upbringing and looks back on his career so far with some appreciative amazement. He said, “I feel like I’m doing some good stuff.”

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