Capturing and Printing Wildlife for Charity

Limited edition coffee table book
This photo, featured in Brian Hampton's book, Captured I: Africa, was the 2008 Grand Prize winner of the annual Nature's Best Photography Windland Smith Rice International Award. Book photo by Nels Akerlund Photography.

Brian Hampton’s coffee table books are much more than just coffee table books; they’re works of art that benefit four worthy charities: the Rochester, Minn. chapter of the Ronald McDonald House; Carpenter’s Place in Rockford, Ill.; the Salvation Army; and Audubon’s Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary in the Everglades.

The books – Captured I: Africa and Captured II: Everglades – are the culmination of Hampton’s global wildlife photography, meticulously captured, printed on LexJet Sunset Photo eSatin Paper, bound and packaged.

Both are available in 12″ x 12″ and 18″ x 18″ sizes, which retail for $1,895 and $2,500 respectively. There are only 15 copies of the 18″ x 18″ version available.

Printing a coffee table book
Brian Hampton prints the coffee table book's pages three-up on LexJet Sunset Photo eSatin Paper.

“I don’t make a profit on the books, nor do I want to: 40 percent goes to the causes and the rest goes toward helping me recover my costs on the project. I want to raise as much money as I can for those organizations,” explains Hampton. “The books are printed using the highest quality printers, either a Canon iPF8300 or an Epson 9900 through ImagePrint RIP software, on Sunset Photo eSatin Paper. I like detail. For that reason a glossy paper would be my favorite for detail, but it falls short because it’s generally too touchy; it can show a dimple or wrinkle so you have to be very careful handling it. Sunset Photo eSatin shows very good detail, and it’s a friendlier to handle.”

Everglades coffee table bookHampton prints the pages and sends them to Mel Englander, Englander Studios in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., to be bound and packaged. The books come in a velvet case inside a black box, to which Hampton applies the book cover image, printed on Photo Tex from LexJet.

A successful entrepreneur and corporate turn-around artist who has been CEO of five companies over the past 40 years, his success in business allowed him to pursue two of his favorite pastimes – photography and philanthropy – and then blend both with the creation of his wildlife photography books.

“When I first started shooting I began with an area in the Everglades where we have a home. I bought a digital camera and started taking pictures of wildlife, mostly birds at first. Six years later I had a little over 20,000 images, and in between that time my wife and I took several trips to Africa. I got more involved in wildlife photography and my wife got into HD video production,” explains Hampton. “I produced the Africa book first and then began working on the Everglades book. At the same time I began thinking about ways to raise money for non-profit organizations.”

Africa coffee table bookOne of Hampton’s shots from Africa, which captures a lioness charging through the water on its way to a kill, was the 2008 Grand Prize winner of the annual Nature’s Best Photography Windland Smith Rice International Awards, for which it was featured in a special exhibition at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C. that same year.

Hampton is working on a third book based on his travels to Alaska. Hampton says he has 50-60 images that are “book-worthy,” and he would like to take a photography trip in the winter to capture the unique snow-covered beauty of Alaska and its wildlife that time of year.

Alaska coffee table book
Brian Hampton is working on a third book documenting his trips to Alaska.

Hampton adds that perhaps the most difficult aspect of producing the books was choosing from the literally tens of thousands of images he’s captured over the years. When Hampton is out in the field, he shoots with a Canon 1-series professional camera with “L” glass. As he puts it: “I only shoot with the best possible equipment from the best possible locations. The nature of photography, especially wildlife photography, is that you have very little time to capture the perfect moment so you had better be prepared.”

For more information about the limited-edition, custom books and the charities they support, go to

Portrait Project Looks at Homelessness, Hope, and Gratitude

By Rob Finkel

At LexJet, many  customers tell us about how they are using their photography and printing skills to support worthy causes in their communities.  Jim Spelman of Jim Spelman Studios recently told me about the Hope in Focus  project that he is working on to support Carpenter’s Place, an agency that serves the chronically homeless in his hometown of Rockford, IL. 

SpelmanIMG_7950 emailBetween now and November, Spelman will capture at least 1,000 portraits and stories from individuals from throughout the Rockford community. One of the goals is to “shatter stereotypes about the homeless” and inspire us all to feel more grateful for the things we have, instead of worrying about what we don’t have.  The portraits and stories are being gathered along with videotaped interviews to produce a traveling exhibition that will help raise funds to support Carpenter’s Place.  

The mission of Carpenter’s Place is to provide tools for rebuilding lives. It is a safe daytime, drop-in center that aids chronically homeless people, many of whom suffer from mental illness, substance abuse, or learning and emotional disabilities. Instead of simply providing a meal or a bed for the night then sending the person back to the streets, Carpenter’s Place helps each “guest” develop and implement a comprehensive Life Recovery Plan.  Homeless visitors to  Carpenter’s Place can store their personal belongings, shower, make phone calls, receive, and wash their clothes. When they are ready to move into more stable housing, donated furniture is made available to them.  

Spelman has already shot some images of the people who come to Carpenter’s Place for help. But he is also shooting portraits of any Rockford-area resident who will answer four basic questions:

1.            What does Home mean to you?

2.            What are you grateful for?

3.            What brings you hope?

4.            Have you ever been homeless? If so, how long?

SpelmanIMG_7989 emailUltimately, the exhibition will be designed to make people think. It will not only convey some of the hardships of homelessness, but also the deep sense of gratitude people express when they receive everyday items that most of us take for granted (such as a pair of pants or basic toiletries). Executive Director Kay Larrick has observed that “The people who have the least seem to have the most gratitude.”

The Hope in Focus project just got underway a few weeks ago. But Spelman is already finding that people who don’t think they’ve been homeless, actually have been homeless at some point in their lives, even if only for a few days. 

In his photography business, Spelman specializes in shooting highly stylized beauty and fashion images for magazines. He also shoots fantasy/glamour sessions for high-school seniors.

For the Hope in Focus project, Spelman isn’t doing any cosmetic retouching. The portraits are each very detailed and very real. “I think there is such beauty in everyone’s individuality,” says Spelman.  

Although some people are initially startled to see unretouched photos these days, most are intrigued and amazed.

In addition to the shots taken at the Carpenter’s Place facility, Spelman will be shooting portraits in his studio, at the Rock River Valley YMCA, and at various art festivals and events throughout the summer.

 He isn’t the only creative professional working on the project. Brian Anderson of Cain & Company is developing a logo and PR materials. Videographer Andrew Reynolds of is shooting videos of several of the interviews and architect Joseph Zimmer is building a special walk-through house in which many of the portraits will be displayed. The Carpenter’s Place also has graphic designs and public-relations people involved.

The exhibition will open with a special event planned Nov. 4 in Jim’s spacious new studios. Representatives of the local news media will be invited, as well as the people featured in the portraits and the extensive network of volunteers and community leaders who support Carpenter’s Place.

SpelmanIMG_7954 emailSpelman plans to print all of the portraits himself using LexJet Sunset Photo papers and Water-Resistant Satin Cloth on his Epson Stylus Pro 9800. He has only been printing in-house for about six months but feels confident he can handle it.  

“I used to send everything to a lab,” says Spelman. “Labs are great, and they definitely have their place, but I love being able to print my work myself. In addition to having ultimate control over the image quality, the printer gives me the capacity to be more creative.”

Everyone who sits for a portrait and contributes comments to the project will receive a digital copy of the photo. Or, they can order large framed or unframed prints of their portraits, with 25% of the proceeds being donated to Carpenter’s Place.

“Right now there’s a lot of energy behind the Hope in Focus project,” says Spelman. He’s not entirely sure what direction the project will take by the time the exhibition opens in November.  He also plans to use some of the portraits in a book project he’s been working on for several years.

But one thing he does know is that many beneficiaries of the agency’s services are grateful to be participating. As Spelman observes, “They want their voices heard, because for many of them  Carpenter’s Place has helped save their lives.”