Cuban Tobacco Farmer ©Manuello Paganelli DetailPrints on Hahnemühle Paper for Weston Gallery

What does it take to succeed a photography legend like Ansel Adams? A photographer for whom his job is a passion and whose images are visually powerful and enduring as long-lasting prints in galleries and museums or in private collections. This is exactly what applies to Manuello Paganelli, a California-based travel, portrait and art photographer. Ansel Adams was his amicable mentor, he learned a lot from him, and today he follows in his footsteps with his enthusiasm for photography. Manuello Paganelli strived to find the perfect paper for his photographs. Here is what he has to say about creating a legacy on Hahnemühle Digital FineArt Paper.

Romanian Monk ©Manuello Paganelli printed on Hahnemühle Digital FineArt Paper for Weston Gallery
Romanian Monk ©Manuello Paganelli

When an image is captured there is still a long way to go before the final product can be admired and respected. Photographers should never underestimate that having the right paper to print on is as important now as it was when everything was done in the darkroom. At my studio we spent countless hours exploring and testing all kinds of archival photo paper, and each trial was based on feeling its weight, getting the look, feel and consistency as some of my favorite fiber-based papers from the past. All of those qualities are found in the Hahnemühle Digital FineArt Papers. There is a great sense of pride and joy when we are able to see a great photo we had taken printed on the right quality paper and held it on our hands. Is not just about printing a photograph but also about preserving the moment in a tangible form so it can be shared with generations to come.

Being represented in the Weston Gallery, one of the oldest and most respected galleries of its kind and a world leader in the field of fine vintage and contemporary photography, this becomes all the more important for when you are alongside legendary photographers like Ansel Adams, Edward Weston, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Paul Strand, Irving Penn, Man Ray, Yousuf Karsh to name a few, means that everything must be not just visually powerful, but with a long-lasting archiving life. With discerning eyes, art collectors are scrutinizing everything about a photograph, so it’s critical for the raw materials to be of the highest quality available. My prints made on Hahnemühle Digital FineArt Paper, e.g. Photo Rag® Baryta have been met with a glowing praise from photographers, curators and collectors alike.

Despite years in the business, I still find the same excitement for the craft that gripped me when I first picked up a camera. I maintain a passion for sharing my subjects’ stories through documentary and fine arts photography. I want to continue exploring the human condition and to deeply immerse myself in projects that touch and inspire. It is my hope that, for a short moment, when viewers look at the printed image, they sense the beauty, the vulnerability and the souls of my characters and that same exhilaration I felt when I pressed the camera’s shutter.

I never planned on becoming a professional photographer. I always thought I’d become a doctor, but during my senior year in college I began to have doubts about a career in medicine. Around that time that I bought a camera, and while browsing in a bookstore, I found a magazine titled “Darkroom” with Ansel Adams profiled on the cover. Paging through Adams’ powerful black-and-white landscapes left me hypnotized. In that moment I had a feeling that the camera I had just purchased would be my connection to my future. I went home with that copy of Darkroom, and phoned Ansel Adams.

That first conversation with Ansel Adams led to many more, until we established a warm mentoring relationship that guided me through the initial days of my artistic career.

My professional break into photography came when in 1982 I was hired as a staff photographer for The Chattanooga Times. That photojournalism experience was invaluable, but I soon left for the Washington, DC area, where I began a successful freelance career, shooting for magazines such as: Der Spiegel, ESPN, Forbes, LIFE, Newsweek, People, Stern, and Sports Illustrated. I thrived in the freelance role, specializing in portraits of celebrities and industry leaders. As someone who was raised with a love and interest in all those around me, shooting portraits was a way for me to capture and highlight subjects’ unique spirits.

I find artistic influences in everyday life. From the moment I get up, I’m absorbing what I see, what I hear and what I experience. I’m stopped by shadows, contrast, forms, textures, angles and light. And I study the work of masters, too. I’ve always admired the work of W. Eugene Smith, Edward Weston, and in particular the street photography of legends like Henry Cartier Bresson and Robert Frank. I love the poetic and dramatic landscapes of Ansel Adams, the magical touches created by Irving Penn, and the powerful canvas strokes of Caravaggio.

Cuban Tobacco Farmer ©Manuello Paganelli printed on Hahnemühle Digital FineArt Paper
Cuban Tobacco Farmer ©Manuello Paganelli

Manuello is “Photographer of the month” in Hahnemühle´s FineArt Gallery in Germany´s magazine ProfiFoto.

Manuello Paganelli collaborates with Hahnemühle FineArt
Hahnemühle FineArt Gallery in ProfiFoto magazine April 2019
14 Comments
  1. Manuello has such an eye for capturing the strong contrast and values, creating not just the concrete visual aspects but the atmosphere of the moment. Viewers will come away with a memory of the feeling that will outlast the memory of the detail.

  2. We are so impressed about Manuello”s work. Its such a great style we were so glad to feature his portfolio in our last issue I/19 of PhotoKlassik International Magazine.

  3. Brilliant images by a brilliant photographer. This book was such a pleasure to work on. The love he has for this country and its people is palpable. Kudos Manuello and Kudos Hahnemühle!

  4. Charys Schuler

    I think Manuello’s background as a lover of art and a curious human being shows through in his work. He is always looking to find the essence of his subject, to look deeper, and make us look with him.
    We are very proud to feature one of his images on the cover of the latest issue of PhotoKlassik International magazine.

  5. Stella Kramer

    As a photo editor, I always knew that assigning Manuello meant that I would get wonderful images in return. The strength of his eye and how he composes a photograph has always distinguished his work, adding depth and feeling to whatever the subject is.

  6. So good to see this wonderful tribute to one of America’s best photographers. Manuello’s work is rich, evocative, layered, and totally honest. He captures his subjects in natural movement and gesture, free of inhibitions. His photos have a way of reaching into that place where there is universal connection. Ansel Adams would be very proud!

  7. Inspiring work, then and today. Thanks for being a mentor Manuello!

    Daniel in Seattle

  8. Terry Breedlove

    Whenever I see Manuello’s work the warmth the touching compassion and raw human value overwhelms me. His photography grabs me takes me for a ride to a time and a place and a moment that will stay with me forever. A moment that passes in the blink of an eye but through the magic of his visionary talent revisits us again and again. How special that his gift for capturing these works of Art become our gift to enjoy forever.

  9. This is a great tribute to and examination of Manuello Paganelli’s career and his meaningful photographic work. I am glad to see his fine imagery continue to receive the recognition it warrants.

  10. Enrica

    Superb photos. Bravo Manuello!

  11. I’ve seen some of his amazing photographs in the PhotoKlassik International Magazin and we are happy to present him on aphognext.com.

  12. What a great article! Thank you for giving voice to this inspiring story. Beyond the beautiful work, Manuello’s passion, persistence, and willingness to reach outside the normal comfort zone (really, picking up the phone and calling Ansel Adams?), shows us all what can happen when you follow your dreams.

  13. Kathy Fuller

    I have been collecting Manuello’s photos since I first saw an exhibit of his work in the early ‘90s. HIs unrivaled eye and impeccable technique results in exquisitely composed and textured images that both mesmerize and transport the viewer. But it’s his innate understanding of the human condition and the trust he builds with his subjects that truly sets him apart and gives his photographs poetic intimacy as he gently draws you in to the hallowed space where the soul resides.

  14. Manuello Paganelli si a Maestro of lighting and composition. I find his photograph stunning and innovative . He capture the essence of places and people in a magnificent way .His magnetic eye draws the light in the direction that he want like Prospero (Shakespeare) with his magic makes things happen..
    I truly and deeply admire his work .

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