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A snapshot of Saranac Lake

Sep 30, 2023

Aug 4, 2023

Caperton Tissot and Skip Murray hold a copy of their soon-to-be-published book “Saranac Lake: An Adirondack Portrait” by the Saranac River, which played a part in the inspiration to write the poetry and photography coffee table book. (Enterprise photo — Aaron Marbone)

SARANAC LAKE — Caperton Tissot and Skip Murray sat at a window table in Nori’s Village Market on Thursday, sipping coffees and flipping through the pages of their soon-to-be-published book “Saranac Lake: An Adirondack Portrait.” Nearly a year and a half ago, they sat at that exact table and dreamed up the idea for the book of photos and poetry.

Ever since then, Tissot said they’ve been working “fast and furiously” every single day to document life in Saranac Lake, filling the 243 page book with more than 300 photos. It was a lot of work but “worth it,” Murray said, to create a love letter to the town they both now call home.

Tissot has lived here for 21 years, Murray for six. Murray remembers the day he got to Saranac Lake, thinking it was “storybook town.” Now, it literally is.

A launch event for the book will be held at BluSeed Studios on Aug. 18.

The book came out of mutual admiration for each other’s work — Murray’s eye and Tissot’s voice.

Skip Murray and Caperton Tissot look through a copy of their soon-to-be-published book “Saranac Lake: An Adirondack Portrait” at Nori’s Village Market.(Enterprise photo — Aaron Marbone)

In 2021, as they sat at their table in Nori’s, watching the Saranac River lazily drift by, they talked about how the glistening waters reflect the town. They wanted to make those reflections permanent.

Tissot hopes Murray’s photography will bring people into the book, and her text will invite them to go deeper. She hopes readers get a better appreciation for the village through it. Murray’s photos focus on things people may pass by every day and not take in — the history, the architecture, and the volunteers and organizations that make the town work.

The two came up with several categories of things they wanted to cover around town — architecture, artists, businesses, athletes, landscapes. The book shows a sample of each aspect of the village. Tissot is already issuing a preemptive apology to anyone in town who didn’t make it in the book.

They said they tried to keep the price of the book accessible because there’s so many photos of people in it. A copy will cost $35 and will be available for purchase at the Village Mercantile, the Book Nook, the Twin Crystal Rock Shop, Adirondack Hamlets to Huts and at the Third Thursday Art Walks this summer.

Some of the photos are from Murray’s archives. But the bulk of them were taken in the past year and a half. He was still snapping photos right up until the day of publication. The most recent is of a Hobbit house a local couple is building, found on page 25.

They kept adding to the book. Just when one would think they were done, the other would think of something else. The book has a section on whimsical yard art.

“We had completely finished it. And then the bloody goats came along,” Tissot said, referring to the metallic goat figures Keith and Marge Murphy have been staging in different scenes at their Lake Flower Avenue home.

With the images laid out before her, Tissot said she’d spend time with each photo, getting immersed in each before writing. She’s written tons of poetry — this is her 11th book. It is self-published through her company Snowy Owl Press.

Tissot is a morning person and Murray’s a night person. Each morning she would sent him his list of photo assignments around town and push herself and Murray to make deadlines.

“I’m the hammer,” she said.

Creating the book was an enjoyable collaboration for both of them. They got to hang out and document tons of events, stores and people in the village.

Tissot said it’s also not all about the action. They included a lot of the “quiet times” when there was nothing going on and the village was at rest.

Murray’s favorite shot is a recreation of Edgar Degas’ painting “Dancers Practicing at the Barre” taken at the Dance Sanctuary.

The book launch party at BluSeed on Aug. 18 will be held from 4:30 to 7 p.m.

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