CHARLESTOWN — Joe Vericker, an award-winning photojournalist who has taken photos of presidents, popes and celebrities, stood inside the Books on the Pond Gallery on Narrow Lane one warm afternoon last week with Nancy Vericker, his wife of 40 years. 

Ten of Joe's pieces — mostly 20-inch-by-30-inch metal prints featuring everything from Ram Island in summer, winter and at moonrise to New York's iconic Pepsi-Cola sign at night to an artistic look at ice on the road at Moonstone Beach — are on display in the gallery, part of the Books on the Pond Art & Writing Center. The exhibit, which also features the work of Boston photographer Bill Morse, will remain open through the end of the month. 

"Joe brings a love of this place," said Nancy, looking at one of her husband's Ram Island photos. "He really has an eye ... and he's very modest."

"These are out of my normal realm," said Joe, who is soft-spoken and friendly. "I have typically done more corporate work ... historic events and portraits."

The Verickers, who live nearby, are native New Yorkers who moved, during the dark days of the pandemic, into the house they've owned for the last 25 years and where they spent summers with their now adult children; JP, Lizzie, Molly and Grace.

"We are now officially in the heaven of Charlestown," said Joe, who was born in Queens and raised in the Bronx.

"We kind of moved into our summer home and became full-time residents," he said, noting that he has "sort of segued" into shooting professional headshots and family portraits since moving to Rhode Island. "I'm trying to re-establish myself post-pandemic."

"My husband is amazing," said Nancy, an author and former newspaper reporter. "He really captures the essence of people and gatherings."

Vericker, whose photos have been featured in publications like People, Vanity Fair, and The New York Times, created his business, PhotoBureau Inc., to cover photo assignments in the fields of corporate, portrait, event and annual report photography. A member of the American Society of Media Photographers, the NY Press Photographers Association, Professional Photographers of America and an inductee of the International Live Events Association Hall of Legends, he was also the official photographer for the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York during Pope Francis' whirlwind, 36-hour visit to the city in 2015.

The photos have been published in a book called "Visit of His Holiness, Pope Francis, to New York City, September 24-25, 2015," which is also on display at the gallery.  

"Joe has so much heart that people trust him," said Nancy. "They trust him to do the right thing."

Her husband always practiced discretion and care when photographing corporate events for Fortune 500 companies and social gatherings full of celebrities and famous CEOs.

Nancy, who is also a spiritual director at Fairfield University, said after photographing the 80th birthday celebration of former Cardinal John O'Connor, archbishop of New York, her husband received a handwritten note from the prelate.

"He took the time to write to Joe to thank him for his sensitivity," she said, glancing at her husband with a warm smile. "We've been married for forty years and I still adore him."

And while he may have taken the photographs of three popes (John Paul II, Benedict and Francis) and eight presidents, there's one photo that has brought him more attention than any of the others he's taken in his long career. It's a photo that still has the power to choke Joe up a bit even now, two decades later.

He had been hired by Town & Country magazine, Joe explained, to take photos of a black tie gala at Grand Central Station honoring the reopening of Grand Central Station, one of the projects of the late Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. It was there that he captured a photo of John Fitzgerald Kennedy Jr. "gazing lovingly at his wife," the late Carolyn Bessette Kennedy, days before the couple's plane went down in the waters off Martha's Vineyard in July of 1999.

"After that tragic plane crash, the photo was published all over the world," said Joe. "It was one of the last photos of them ever taken."

Earlier this month Joe and Bill Morse, whose photographs are also included in the Books on the Pond Gallery exhibit, led a roundtable discussion called "Conversations with Photographers." Other talks and other exhibits are scheduled to take place throughout the year at the center, which is nestled upon a 2.2-acre section of Narrow Lane land across from the Dunkin' Donuts and abutting Phil & Ann's Sunset Motel on Old Post Road, and includes a two other small buildings — a reading room and a children's shop — in addition to the gallery.

"We are a work in progress," said proprietor Alexandra Lehmann of Charlestown, who opened Books on the Pond in the summer of 2019. 

On July 31, international angling artist and American wildlife illustrator Flick Ford will be the artist in residence, said Lehman, who spent her childhood summers in Quonochontaug and moved there full time two years ago. 

Although the focus of the gallery is typically on "local artistic talent," Lehman said in an email, a show featuring the contemporary art of five Manhattan artists, called "Brooks' Five: Out of NYC," will be on display next month.

For more information about the center, visit booksonthepond.com.

For more information about Vericker, visit https://www.photobureau.com.

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