Archive for the ‘The Story Behind the Image’ category

The Print Project, Mexico Fishermen.

For many years I traveled the world and photographed people and I rarely gave anything back. It felt selfish. The Print Project, was my way of giving back.


I wanted to give something special to the people I photograph, a memory to keep forever.  I spent a few months photographing fishermen from the town of Todos Santos, Mexico.  Week after week, we came back with signed fine art prints for them to take home. At first, I can’t say we had a very warm welcome.  They were suspicious of our intentions and refused being photographed.  There has been a lot of global criticism on their fishing practices, especially of sharks and rays.  Is a very sensitive subject to all parties.  After spending several hours on the beach, we managed to photograph two key people.  The older fishermen, who at 87 was still going strong and the chief of the fishing cooperative.  I sat down with them and explained the project and my intentions and that I was not associated with any groups opposing their fishing practices.  They understood and agreed to be photographed.  The rest of the fishermen watched as I took photos.  Next week we came back with prints and a few more fishermen agreed to pose for me.  I did this every week and after my fourth time coming, everyone was out to show me their catch and ready to pose.  What surprised me the most about  this project, was realizing that the fishermen had an appreciation for the artistic value of the photos.  They could tell that they were not just ordinary photos and appreciated them more because of it.

I want to take this project around the world and photograph people who might never have the opportunity of owning a photograph of themselves.  Sharing this post will make this effort possible so please share it.  You can also check out the BEHIND THE SCENES  and don’t forget to LIKE ME on my facebook page.





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Wyoming Tourism Print Ad. The story behind the image.

Photographing the most dangerous animal in Yellowstone Park.

When the guys at Barnhart called me, to shoot wild bisons with geysers in the background in Yellowstone National Park, I figured it was going to be just another shoot.  I was wrong.  Bisons are the most dangerous animals in the park.  From 1980 to 1999 more than three times as many people in Yellowstone National Park were injured by bison than by bears.  On a previous assignment in the park, I was charged by a bull.  Fortunately I was close enough to my car to run in, step on the gas and peel out.  I knew this shoot had to be approached differently, it couldn’t have been scheduled with the client there or an art director.  It was too much of a liability.  It had to be handled like a “hunt” and after explaining the logistics to Barnhart they agreed to let me “Roam Free” with my assistant and do it on my own, with a flexible schedule.  I immediately called the Park to find out the whereabouts of bisons.  They replied “Bisons are in the rut (mating) and are roaming in the Lamar Valley in big herds”.  “Hummm… ” That’s the opposite side of the Park where all the geysers are and big animals in the rut and excited is not what I wanted. Not a problem.  Nothing photoshop and a getaway driver with a fast car will not fix (at least that’s what I thought).   I then researched about geysers.  Some are so unpredictable, that I could have spent the rest of my life waiting for them to erupt.  Old Faithful was going to be my only option and who cares if it’s surrounded by benches and herds of wild tourists…


The first part of the shoot was going to be getting the image of the geyser and  treeline.  We camped by Old Faithful and sat my watch to every eruption.  Waiting patiently for it to erupt “Here it comes!  pufh…”.   A little smoke, some steam, a couple of puffs, “Oh, is that it? I think this was a lame one…”.  I waited an hour for the next eruption.  Next eruption exploded to a million feet and I scrambled running back to get the whole thing with my lens that was too long.  It was massive and I was really working hard to get the whole thing in my frame when someone from the back asked. “Sir?  Do you mind if I rest my camera on your back while I take a picture?”.  That is a pretty acceptable request when shooting around old Faithful.  “Sure” I replied and kept shooting with my new friend.  I spent a day and a half fighting tourists and getting pictures of Old Faithful in every light situation I could get, to match the lighting of what the bison foreground might be.  Old Faithful was faithful but it sure had it’s own temperament.

Next part was going to be shooting bisons.  I didn’t want to use a telephoto lens and sit back from the distance and shoot.  I really wanted the viewers to feel they were right there in the middle of the herd.   I grabbed mid range lenses for a more intimate perspective.  The plan was to drive to Lamar Valley, find buffalos right next to the road, have my getaway assistant driver drop me off by the buffalo, jump out and start shooting and race away with the fast car before the bisons got me.   As soon as we arrived in the Lamar valley, I realized that the getaway driver plan was not going to work.  

Off The Deep End


How I ended up at the local jail in the British Virgin Islands.

Sometimes is hard to keep track of all images.  Last week I was browsing through book titles on Amazon and ran into this cover I had shot but had never seen.   Reminded me of the great adventure I had with Hodding Carter.  I was on assignment for Outside Magazine documenting  Hodding on his quest to swim the British Virgin Islands.   The story he wrote for Outside turned into this book.  We were to follow Hodding and his swimming partner Hopper (a.k.a. George McDonough) with my assistant Derik on a “support” boat and document their journey, both above and below water.  When I booked the boat online it showed a slick looking racing boat, with hot chicks on deck sunbathing.  Seemed perfect.  When my assistant Derik and I went to pick up the boat rental, the reality was very different.  After looking at the dilapidated boat I joked with Derik and said “I hope it floats”.  Little we knew that the boat would eventually sink during the shoot.  After being rescued by the coast guard, I would end up at the local police station for interrogation.   I was thrown into a room with a massive, scary guy, who had just been arrested.  He was trashing around with a killer look, punching things that got into his way.  I tried to disappear.  After plucking me out of the room they interrogated me for hours asking me the same questions over and over.  They held my passport until further investigation and they let me go.  I was at the police station for a very long time and I figured I would spend the rest of my life in Portola paying for a dilapidated boat that should have never been in the water.  Next day they escorted us to the sunken boat and after a coast guard diver inspected the wreck and mumbled with the boat owner and coast guard officer they offered to let me go if I paid $200 for the rescue of the boat.  It was a very happy moment in my life and the best $200 I have ever spent.  A few hours later I was on a flight back to Montana never happier to be on a plane.  Thinking about all the events, we came to the conclusion that the water pump had failed or never worked and eventually the boat filled with water and sank.  If you want to read more down below is an extract from Outside Magazine with a link to the article.


“In the Field with Paolo Marchesi

Outside has been putting Paolo Marchesi through the spin cycle lately. For our July and August issues, we sent Marchesi, a Montana-based freelance photographer, on location for two salt-laden features, Tim Zimmerman’s “It’s Hard Out Here for a Shrimp” about the lethal world of the Humboldt squid, and W. Hodding Carter’s “The 40-Year-Old Virgin Swimmer” devoted to the author’s bid to swim the British Virgin Islands.

For “Shrimp,” Marchesi came face to face with man-eating Humboldts in Mexico’s Sea of Cortez while shooting diver Scott Cassell, but his most recent assignment to follow Outside Correspondent Carter for “Virgin” in the BVIs was decidedly more laid back.

Italian-born Marchesi had more than his share of Gilligan-esque adventures in the BVIs. Case in point: Seeing their dilapidated charter boat, the photographer muttered to his assistant “I hope it floats.” It sank a couple days later with Marchesi and his assistant scrambling to save the gear. “After it went down and we were rescued, the police took me in for interrogation,” recalled Marchesi. “I was thrown in a room with a guy who had just been arrested. He was thrashing around with a killer look. I tried to disappear. I was in there a long, long time.”

There was also the challenge of shooting Carter and his swim partner Hooper (a.k.a. George McDonough) as they swam from island to island. Their surfboard laden with gear, the pair was slowed enough for Marchesi to swim within range. For Carter and Hopper, a little extra security of having another person on the open-water crossings was comforting—that, “and, of course, the feeling that a shark would take the one lagging behind,” says Marchesi.

But Marchesi’s favorite shots took place on Salt Island where he met the solitary keeper of the island, Henry Leonard. Leonard lives alone on the tiny island, of which his family has been keepers for generations. They all remain buried in a makeshift cemetery next to his hut. “There was no light, no water, not a real house, just him and the island,” Marchesi recalled, “I felt lonely and sad for him but he didn’t seem bothered, from his little island watching the boats go by day after day.”