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Glamour Photographer Has Thousands of Photos But Nowhere to Display Them

By Mina Bloom | August 20, 2015 5:56am
 Dr. Gary Beringer has roughly 5,000 gallery-ready photographs. The pictured photograph is titled
Dr. Gary Beringer has roughly 5,000 gallery-ready photographs. The pictured photograph is titled "Brunette With a Red Ball #1."
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DNAinfo/Mina Bloom

LINCOLN PARK — Beginning in 1999, epidemiologist Gary Beringer would travel to the outskirts of Paris every couple of months and stay for weeks at a time to shoot free-form glamour and fashion photography. He had his hands in every facet of the shoots, from styling to consulting on hair and makeup.

"It started out as a hobby, and then it turned much more serious," he said of photography. "I didn't want to photograph buildings or sewers. I thought, 'Let's take a stab at fashion,' because my parents worked in retail."

The son of parents who owned European fashion line Huckapoo, Beringer was on his way to making photography a second career, landing interviews with Playboy magazine and meetings with Johnson Publishing, before he suffered from a life-altering stroke on Oct. 22, 2003. 

Now, roughly 5,000 of Dr. Beringer's photographs, taken from 1999 - 2002, are collecting dust in a storage locker located a couple blocks from the Lincoln Park tower where he's lived for 20 years.

A sampling of Beringer's photographs. [DNAinfo/Mina Bloom]

After suffering from a second stroke and losing his ability with the hand he uses to take photographs, Dr. Beringer has one simple wish: to find a good home for his enormous collection of photos. 

"I don't want to throw them away, God forbid. I don't want to give them to someone who won't appreciate them. I want to see them displayed and stored well. Joe Schmo down the street isn't going to appreciate this," he said, adding that the goal is not to make money. 

His wife, Nancy, agreed.

"We don't have family. We don't have children. So what [will] happen to this?" she said.

His collection "Body Poses," debuted at the Australian Exhibition Center in Chicago in 2002. It's made up of 125 photographs of women, ranging in style from portraits to nude figure studies.

Beringer said he was interested in metamorphosis, so he took multiple photos of the same international models, many of them either wearing haute couture or lingerie. 

In addition to the 125 photographs in the collection, there are thousands more in frames and in boxes, waiting to be hung on a gallery wall.

The couple have made efforts to donate them to local institutions like the Art Institute and the Chicago History Museum, but so far there have been no takers. At first, they donated them to "prominent art school," but the school returned them after 30 days, saying they had no space for them, Nancy said.

"It's [not having] the capacity and the genre ... this is a genre that is very specific," she said.

Before Dr. Beringer got sick, Playboy magazine was interested in hiring him and he also met with editors at Johnson Publishing, the couple said.

Nancy recalls an editor at Johnson telling her husband, "You're a genius at cropping." The photos were taken before Photoshop, and Dr. Beringer did no retouching.

"The reactions were very good and very encouraging, and that's why I was ready to pursue it," the photographer said.

Despite suffering from two strokes, Dr. Beringer still does epidemiology consulting. But he hasn't been able to take pictures the way he used to after losing mobility in his hand.

Institutions interested in the photographs must have the capacity to store roughly 5,000 of them because the couple would like to give away the entire collection, not just a handful of photos.

"You can display five to 10 at a time and then shift them around," Nancy said. "But you have to have the storage space."

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