Sometimes the perfect photo just isn’t meant to make its way to the camera. Instead, it might be meant only for the observer to cherish alone, says photographer, artist, and activist Renée Roman Nose.
She recalled once waiting patiently for just the right angle to get a beautiful eagle shot. But try as she might, that precise image was not one she could capture. It turned out to be only something she could see with her eyes, and not something she could save with her lens.
But that didn’t make the moment any less special, she said.
“That eagle picture didn’t come out the way I wanted it to, but I believe it was meant for my heart, not for my camera,” Roman Nose explained.
Her interest in photography goes back to a camera she received when she was 8.
“I was in fourth grade when I got an old Brownie camera, the kind where you had to look down to see the image,” Roman Nose said. “It was the first art form I found I loved, and it has stayed with me all of these years. I like that you can capture an emotion—capture a feeling—using the camera. You just have to be patient, and in the right place at the right time.”
Roman Nose currently has an exhibit of her photography and artwork on display at the Kallet Civic Center in Oneida, New York. She met with friends and fans there on March 23 for an artist’s reception, giving her the chance to take her guests on behind-the-scenes tours of her creations. She saw an enthusiastic turnout at the event, encouraged by the well-wishes of fans who sincerely showed their appreciation for their new neighbor’s talents.
She has only lived in Central New York for less than two years, coming here from Oregon in what Roman Nose acknowledges as a flight of faith. While living in Oregon, a girlfriend posted on social media some photos of the two of them together, and that girlfriend’s friend here in New York State was responding with his own “like” clicks on those postings.
That man was Brian Patterson, Bear Clan representative for the Oneida Nation. Their mutual friend noticed his responses, and told Roman Nose it looked like Patterson had an interest.
“She said, ‘I think Brian likes you.’ I said, ‘What are we, 16?’” Roman Nose recalled.
Meanwhile, Patterson himself one night looked to the sky and called on his ancestors, and then hers as well, to clear the way for their union if this was something that was meant to be.
Before they met, Roman Nose was single for some 20 years, and didn’t really think much about taking that plunge again, she said. But when the couple finally met in person, there was a genuine and tangible spark between them. Roman Nose said in Patterson she found a kindred spirit who challenged her, was her intellectual equal, and had the common calling for both reaching out as public speakers. He never pushes her to the background, she added, always making sure Roman Nose is the focus of his attention.
They married in front of Patterson’s friends and family at the Oneida Longhouse on July 9, 2016, and then in Washington state before Roman Nose’s family and friends on Aug. 20, 2016. They now live in Canastota.
“It was a leap of faith,” Renée Roman Nose admits, “but we both know time is precious. We are truly blessed to have found each other. I think we met when it was the right time for both of us.”
On her first tour of Central New York, one of the main impressions on her was the pride Patterson had for his Oneida Nation roots.
“He showed me just how much he loved his homeland,” she said.
Roman Nose is an enrolled member of the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes of Oklahoma; the president of Fierce Courage, which offers motivational speaking, team building, and wellness facilitation across the country; and a published poet, with her latest book “Sweet Grass Talking” due out later this year. She has also displayed her work in galleries in Washington State.
Central New York has now become an adopted home close to her heart.
“I love it here,” she said. “The people are so kind, welcoming, and warm. I consider myself to be fairly well-traveled, and I think I have really found a home here.”
Renée Roman Nose’s exhibit will be on display at the Kallet Civic Center, located at 159 Main St. in Oneida, through April 9. Gallery hours are from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday, or by appointment by calling 315-363-8525.