Being recognized as an ASP Fellow is a high honor. Since the American Society for Photographers inaugurated the program 40 years ago, only 104 photographers have qualified for the distinction. One photographer who earned the honor this year is LexJet customer Joe Campanellie, who runs Campanellie’s Portraits in Damascus, MD.
He proudly reports that all 25 of the original images he presented to the ASP judges were 20 x 20 in. prints that he output himself using LexJet Sunset Photo Gloss Paper 300g on his 24-in. Epson Stylus Pro 7800. “Attendees who viewed these images at a special ASP exhibit at PPA’s Imaging USA Show in Nasvhille in January were amazed at the color saturation and quality of the prints,” says Joe. “Many people were amazed that these were not traditional lab prints.”
For the exhibition, Joe chose to show images from his recent venture in avian photography rather than a collection of images that represented his life’s work. He explains why in his ASP Fellowship thesis published in the Winter 2010 issue of ASP Magazine. Entitled “Passion’s Journey,” the thesis eloquently describes why avian photography has reawakened his passion for photography. Campanellie readily admits that somewhere along the line photography had become “just a job” and it showed in his day-to-day photography and attitude toward his work.
Like many photographers of a certain generation, Campanellie’s passion for photography was first ignited by seeing images magically appear in a developing tray in a darkroom. He began his career working as a lab technician and lab supervisor then worked as a NASA subcontractor photographing the space shuttle and various satellites. For 15 years he worked as a corporate photographer for a company that built electronic surveillance equipment.
Before his children were born, he pursued nature and scenic photography, traveling to remote locations around the world. He and his wife also began photographing weddings and portraits, using a makeshift studio in the lower level of their home.
After being laid off from his corporate-photography job, he turned to portrait photography full-time because he had a young family to support. “My passion for photography was replaced by the need to earn money and pay the bills,” writes Joe. “My long walks in the park in pursuit of my passion were replaced with the responsibilities of parenthood.”
“Trying to run a business that was our sole source of income was very difficult,” Joe explains. “We are forced to wear so many different hats. At various times, we must be a marketing person, the CPA, the software engineer, the hardware engineer, and a retouch artist. When we have some extra time, we may actually fit in some paying sessions.”
He credits mentors Joyce Wilson, nature photographer Tony Sweet, and avian photographer Arthur Morris with helping him reawaken his passion for photography.
After attending an Instructional Photo Tour conducted by Morris, Joe says, “I started to develop the style that you see in my portfolio. From my first moments with Artie, I knew there was something about avian photography that brought out the kind of creativity and passion that I had long forgotten.”
Since then, Campanellie has spent many hours in the field trying to predict the behavior of his photographic prey. He has taken multiple trips to photograph the birds of South Florida and two trips to Homer, Alaska in pursuit of the American bald eagle.
“It takes a particular personality to be willing to lie in the freezing snow and ice of Alaska or trudge through the stinking mud and bug-ridden swamps of Florida for hours on end in the hopes of capturing just one image,” says Joe. As he witnesses Mother Nature in her finest hours and watches birds take flight, he says he is affected in a spiritual way by the sights and sounds.
Having made the transition from film photography to digital, he still strives to retain the integrity of the images as they were captured, and plans images so that no elements need to be added or taken away in order to improve them. He says, “The post-processing techniques on these images were purely to bring out the best in each image, not to create something that did not exist in the first place.”
Joe Campanellie credits LexJet staff with helping him learn how to make exhibition prints that look their very best. “Through the help and support I received from the staff at LexJet, I was able to develop my skills to a whole new level in the newfound art of digital printing.” He says he was introduced to the LexJet Sunset Gloss paper some time ago, and has been very pleased with the results.
He is now offering the Fellowship Portfolio prints as fine-art decorative prints. Joe hopes people who see the images will be as affected as he was when he captured them: “From a great white egret escaping with his prize to a courtship dance high above in the heavens, the avian inhabitants are sure to delight all who will just take the time to observe and quietly embrace their natural beauty. I also hope that through my imagery you will be able to feel the pure power and majesty of an American bald eagle and appreciate the delicacy and symmetry of their fully extended wingspan. An eagle in flight is a sight to behold, and one that I have tried to convey to the viewer.”