The Man Behind the Camera: Stan Hirson

This profile was published in a newspaper supplement by The Lakeville Journal Co. in May 2015 to represent the town of Pine Plains, NY. 

Republished with permission, copyright The Lakeville Journal Company, LLC, 2015.


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Stan Hirson’s residency counts for more than a single life in Pine Plains.

Hirson has taken a role not required nor subsidized by town but one that serves all of its citizens. Video camera in hand, he records the stories of government, community, agriculture and people in Pine Plains for documentation on pineplainsviews.com.

Unlike many involved in the community, Hirson did not grow up in Pine Plains, though he was raised in the equally small North Plymouth, Mass.

After graduating college pre-med and with a theater major, Hirson made an unexpected turn to Boston’s photojournalism scene.

His career evolved and transported south to Civil Rights activity in the 1960s, including a video profile on Malcom X for National Educational Television, and back up to New York City for projects like the 1970 Rolling Stones documentary Gimme Shelter.

Documentary film led Hirson around the country and ultimately to a career change to organizational consulting in the late ’70s and ’80s.

Eventually, Hirson landed back in New York, reestablished in filmmaking independently and met Sarah Jones who introduced him to Pine Plains some 21 years ago. The couple has lived in town full-time for 15.

Around 2000, Hirson and Jones traveled to Iceland and initiated a passion for Icelandic horses.

The passion led Hirson to develop a website with Flash embedded videos he’d taken on riding trips. A video from that era, “Super Tölt on an Icelandic Horse” now has over one million views on YouTube.

That project and his life in the country drove a new idea — to preserve and share the stories of Pine Plains online. Thus formed Pine Plains Views.

Dozens of board meetings, fire company parades and community functions are archived on Pine Plains Views for townspeople to relive and absorb.

“What I think is important is that a community gets to see itself,” Hirson said during an afternoon interview at home. “Pine Plains Views is almost a template that other towns can use.”

With town boards, the documentarian stations in one corner, records when the meeting is called to order and ends when it is adjourned. He stan-hirson-1films in one take and does not edit.

“I want people to see how government works without being newsy,” he said.

Hirson likens Pine Plains Views to a mirror, or pieces of a mirror, that Pine Plains can look into.

The website is free is and without ads.

Hirson and Jones live in the Shekomeko Valley with an Australian sheepdog, three Icelandic sheepdogs and six Icelandic horses — two of them bred right in Pine Plains.

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