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.
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.