Politics, perseverance and the desire to prevail characterize the early life of Raymond and the Padron family. Ray’s father was a successful business man in Cuba’s sugar industry before Fidel Castro came to power there. He had completed the first year of mechanical engineering college when the Padron family obtained visas allowing them to immigrate to the United States in late 1959 and early 1960, but everything they had was left and confiscated by the government. Ray’s father went from a well-paid manager and accountant in a company employing roughly 4,000 people to become a New York City doorman. Ray’s first job was as a dish washer that he jokingly says that was an occupation for which he had little talent. He first lived in Miami before moving to New York City In five years, the earliest time allowed, the Padron family became US Citizens. Ray went on to complete his studies and earned a mechanical engineering degree from CCNY.
The newly minted engineer used his degree in an unusual way, as a loss control (safety engineer) for the Aetna Insurance Company. He lived in Brooklyn, on long Island and Raynham, MA, before moving to Simsbury in 1979. Ray worked his way up to became the head of Aetna’s engineering department. They became such a leader in this field so that smaller insurance companies hired Ray’s department to subcontract for them. Upon retiring from the Aetna he became bored and was hired in a similar capacity for Tokio Marine, then at AXIA —finally retiring from the insurance industry in 2000.
Ray and his lovely wife Clair then obtained real estate licenses and became a realty team and his interest in photography brought him some local notoriety. When a house went on the market, Ray photographed the property and his work was so well received that the multiple listing service hired him as one of their quasi-staff photographers. He retired from this occupation in 2016. A neighbor, aware of his passion for photography suggested that he attend a SCC meeting. He says that he shyly sat in the back for many sessions and, in 2004, decided to become a member.
Ray has always preferred Canon cameras. His first camera was a Canonet, soon followed by Konica SLR with a F1.4 lens. His present one is a Canon EOS 5D because he feels that Canon leads the way in quality and technology. Ray’s preferred lens is the EF 17-40 F4L USM, a wide angle that is perfect for Landscapes. The other Canon lenses in his bag include an EF- 100, an EF 100-400 and an EF 100 MACRO.
Ray became a passionate photographer of everything Simsbury, chronicling local events like Opening Night, the Simsbury Fly In and anything other happening of interest. He generously gave his local images away to people or organizations who wanted publicity, especially the Chamber of Commerce and the Simsbury Land Trust. He became the club’s liaison with the Simsbury Bank and Trust for their annual Calendar. The majority of the images that appeared in the bank’s calendar were from SCC members including some of Ray’s submissions. This project was a major source of earned revenue for the club for many years. In the meantime, Ray published a book titled Simsbury: A New England Jewel (www.blurb.com) that is now out of print. Simsbury TV however has a video version of the work that can be found through a Google search for Simsbury New England Jewel. One result will be a Simsbury video dated August 31, 2012. The film is roughly 15-minutes long with 90+ somewhat now dated images, but the movie captures the extraordinary beauty of our community.
Ray credits the SCC with greatly improving his photographic technique, largely by paying close attention to the critiques offered at the monthly contests and also through the many in-house classes or instruction seminars given by fellow members and outside speakers. He is devoted to the rule of thirds, leading lines and creating interest when composing an image. Like many members, he sometimes disagrees with some judges scores judges, but he appreciates how our in-house judges have contributed to the club’s very high standards. Lastly, Ray especially values the many friendships he has made through the SCC over his 15 plus years as a member.