Scouts Honor: A Modern Look at the Age-Old Motto, “Be Prepared”

What started several years ago as a 20-minute writing exercise in a graduate class has evolved into a new art installation dreamed up by photographer Stephen DeSantis, in which he explores the age-old Boy Scouts motto, “Be Prepared.”

As a graduate student in Chicago, DeSantis started his writing assignment pondering over Girl Scout cookies and fundraising. The theme stuck with him, and a friend gave him two scouting guidebooks from the 1950s. These instructional relics brought to light another theme: gender roles.

005_BePrepared_DeSantis“I noticed in the guidebooks that the boys did one thing and girls did another thing,” DeSantis says. “I wanted to tackle the idea of how gender identity and gender roles changed since the 1950s.”

Making the Forest and the Trees Shine at a Fine Art Photography Exhibition

POETRe Exhibit by Visio Photography
The POETRe Exhibit by Visio Photography at The School in Valdese, N.C., feature’s Visio’s fine art landscape photography printed on Sunset Photo Metallic Paper, Sunset Select Matte Canvas (the Coming Storm image on the left side of the centerpiece) and acrylic prints by Artisan Colour (right side of the centerpiece).

VISIO Photography is best known for the exceptional wedding and portrait photography crafted by the husband-and-wife team of James and Jenny Tarpley. Located in Marion, N.C., just outside of Asheville, the couple is also making its mark with high-end fine art landscape photography.

Exhibition by Visio PhotographyA recent exhibition at The Rock School in Valdese, N.C., brought VISIO Photography’s nature photography to light with a focus on trees. Called POETRe, the exhibition ran from June 3 to July 26. Thanks to a combination of immaculate capture, printing detail, print material selection and photo finishing, the exhibition literally glowed.

“There were people at the exhibition who were looking around the edges of the prints to see if they were backlit,” James says. “They were impressed with the way the images leapt out of the frames, and it was also nice to hear from peers who saw the exhibition that the colors looked really good.”

Visio Photography Fine Art Landscape ExhibitThe majority of the prints for the exhibition were printed on LexJet Sunset Photo Metallic Paper. One was printed on LexJet Sunset Select Matte Canvas, and the remainder was printed using a traditional chemical process applied to acrylic by Artisan Colour, Scottsdale, Ariz.

“The Metallic prints were framed behind museum-grade anti-reflective glass. We used black matting on the majority of them to really hone in on the image; I wanted the display to take a back seat to the image,” James explains. “We do a lot of our wedding printing on fine art papers, but we’ve been doing a lot of landscapes lately and we’ve found the Metallic paper displays really well on the wall, especially when it’s lit properly. The great color gamut and vivid reproduction makes this paper wonderful for our landscapes.”

The image printed at 20″ x 60″ on Sunset Select Matte Canvas was finished with LexJet Sunset Gloss Coating. James says the Sunset Gloss Coating increased the contrast, providing extra pop to make it more consistent with the other brilliant images in the collection, which you can see more of at

Stories Exposed in the Field at the Rockford Art Museum

Large Format Photo Prints
Brian Hampton describes his close encounter with a silverback gorilla at the opening of Rockford Art Museum’s feature exhibition, Exposed: Akerlund, Hampton, Nordlof.

Brian Hampton can tell you some hair-raising stories from his photography travels around the world, and he did at the opening of the Rockford Art Museum’s feature exhibition called Exposed: Akerlund, Hampton, Nordlof.

Large Format Inkjet Photography
Brian Hampton’s African wildlife photography on display at the Rockford Art Museum.

The exhibition opened the weekend of April 26 highlighting the work of Nels Akerlund, Hampton and Bradley Nordlof. Each brought a distinctive style and focus to the exhibition. Akerlund is known for his unique portraits of prominent people in the Rockford area, Hampton for his wildlife photography and Nordlof for his landscape photography. Each artist gave a short lecture, fielding questions from attendees about the images brought to life with wide-format inkjet printing.

Hampton fielded a lot of questions about the shot he captured of a silverback gorilla in Rwanda. It was the largest print selected from Hampton’s collection for the exhibition at 44″ x 66″, printed on LexJet Sunset Photo eSatin Paper.

Large Format Landscape Photography
Bradley Nordlof explains his amazing landscape photography at the Rockford Art Museum.

The capture is stunning, but the story behind what happened after the capture is, in hindsight, both terrifying and humorous. Hampton relates that the group trekking up the mountain to see the gorillas was warned by their guide to look out for any nervous behavior amongst the gorillas. Hampton took the warning to heart and told his wife, Donna, to “keep the video rolling in case something happens; it might be double indemnity on the insurance,” Hampton recalls.

Sure enough, that big silverback got nervous. Hampton could hear the guide saying, “He’s nervous. He’s nervous. Move back. Move back.” Hampton was about 30 feet away at the time when the gorilla charged. The guide told Hampton to hit the ground, cover up his head and not to look at him.

Now fully engaged with the ground below him, head covered, Hampton peered out of the corner of his eye to see two hairy feet right next to him.

Printing Portraits
Nels Akerlund discusses his distinct portraiture style at the Rockford Art Museum.

“I heard something go snap, then seconds later he whacked me in the back with a sapling tree I was standing next to. It didn’t really hurt, but I wondered what he was going to do next. After 10 or 15 seconds he started walking away. It looked like he made his point and he was going to move on. I stood up, the guide came up to me laughing and gave me high fives,” recalls Hampton. “I turned to Donna and asked if she got the video. The guide laughed and said, ‘She was running so fast the other way that there’s no way she took any video.'”

And so it is when you’re in the bush, so to speak, whether it’s Africa or Alaska, two of Hampton’s favorite places to shoot.

Each of the photographers displayed around 25 images at the exhibition. Hampton’s images were loaned out from a restaurant, a jeweler and a corporate headquarters that proudly display his Africa work. The images generally ranged in size from 30″ x 40″ to 40″ x 60″, with some exceptions such as the silverback gorilla close-encounter image.

“All of the images looked very nice because the art gallery has new lighting, high ceilings and black walls; the images really popped,” says Hampton.