Maine Editorial Photographer/Photojournalist » Professional Maine Photography Brunswick Portland ME

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  • Michele Stapleton : Photographer

    Based in Brunswick, Maine (just east of Portland) I am a professional location photographer specializing in documentary photography for editorial, education & commercial clients. My photography takes me from my home in Brunswick to wonderful places all over Maine and New England.  

    With an an ever-expanding collection of Maine stock photography, I am known for evocative images that use strong color, exceptional light and careful composition to create impact.

    I belong to the American Society of Media Photographers, the Maine Professional Photographers Association, and the Professional Photographers Association of America, and was one of ten Maine photographers selected to participate in the America 24/7 project.

    Thank-you for visiting my blog, and please also visit my main web site.

New Jersey photographer Neil van Niekerk is a flash wonk. As in the flash on your camera.nv1_52251

He’s recognized by his peers as an expert on the use of flash, is frequently invited to speak on the topic at professional photography conferences, tutors other photographers, gives workshops on flash photography, maintains a blog specifically dedicated to flash techniques, and has a flickr group (with over a thousand members), again specifically dedicated to flash photography techniques.

And, if that’s not enough to keep him busy, he’s days away from releasing a book titled On-Camera Flash Techniques for Digital Wedding and Portrait Photography. Phew, that’s a mouthful! The book is now available for pre-order on Amazon.com.pbook1

Despite the title, mastering the use of a flash isn’t just an issue for wedding and portrait photographers. Or even just for pros. Instead, the topic is important for anyone who wants to take better pictures. Which is great, because Neil writes (and speaks) in a straightforward style. Rank beginners can benefit from Neil’s expertise alongside the seasoned pros.

Like Neil, I first started using flashes back in the late 70s. That’s code for “before you could set everything on automatic.” And, I suspect that Neil, like me, got his start as a slide film shooter. That’s code for “your exposure had to be pretty much dead-on or your film was useless.” These were both great training grounds for beginner photographers; we couldn’t depend on the camera to pick the setting for us, we had to actually learn how to operate our camera (and flash) manually.josh-t-05801

Most (all?) of today’s cameras and flashes can be used on automatic, and using automatic mode gives the user great results a high percentage of the time. That’s a good thing insofar as it’s improved the quality of photography overall. However, the drawback is that many users never explore all the capabilities of their equipment. They don’t learn what to do when automatic fails them. And, they don’t learn how to tweak automatic for even better results.

If you need help with your use of flash, get to know Neil–his blog, his flickr site and now his new book.

Hmmm, I wonder if he’ll autograph my copy now that I’ve flattered him?

I was just thinking a few days ago that it had been a long time since I had seen a moose. So, of course it caught my attention when the newsman on the tv in the other room announced that a moose was stranded on an island in the Androscoggin River between Brunswick and Topsham. This I had to check out!

I grabbed my camera, and my rain gear (yes, the monsoon that is “Summer 2009 in Maine” continues) and headed off.

When I first got there all that was visible were two dark brown spots–his ears. Apparently the moose had been feeding earlier (when the TV folks got their photo), but now he was frustrating all the curious onlookers by taking a rest.

(I say “he” because it appears the moose had the beginnings of some antlers.)

For the next hour and a half that’s about all there was to see: two dark ears sticking out of the foliage. And, a bit of a traffic jam on the  adjacent bridge.

Every now and then the ears would twitch and the crowd would twitter (in the old fashioned sense.)

The ones of us who stuck it out in the rain eventually got our payoff. The moose got to his feet, grazed on more foliage, explored the island, and the most exciting part was when he considered an escape via the Androscoggin. He entered the water, swam out a bit, but then he returned to the island.

The water in this area, coming off the dam, is very fast, and that’s probably what chased him back to the island. He was lying back down and night was falling when I decided to call it a wrap.

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The story, found here is my source for information (other than what I witnessed in person), with one correction: The moose is not visible from U.S. Route 1. Route 1 runs alongside the Androscoggin River for maybe a mile, but the restored Cabot Mill, now known as the Fort Andross office and retail complex, blocks all view of the island from Route 1. The bridge for Maine Route 24, however, offers a great view of the island and even has a pedestrian walkway, which provides a safe spot for moose watching. I took most of these images from the bridge’s pedestrian walkway where you see these folks standing.

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Wildlife officials were guessing he went over the dam immediately above the island; he doesn’t appear to have sustained any injury from the wild ride.

Moose are common in Northern and Western Maine, but not so common in Southern Maine, despite the fact that the first moose I saw after moving to Maine was only a few miles away, in Topsham. Intent on photographing moose, I had enthusiastically purchased Bill Silliker’s Maine Moose Watchers Guide and I had doggedly pursued the beast, making several trips to Moosehead Lake with the book on the passenger’s seat of the car. I followed all the tips, but each time came home with no moose pictures.

Months later, on assignment for the Bangor Daily New, I was on my way to Brunswick to photograph the annual Memorial Day parade when I spotted a moose  in a clearing alongside the Topsham exit from Interstate 295.  All that work I’d done to find a moose, and instead I just had to wait for the moose to find me.

Which I guess goes to show that while we may not have a lot of moose in the Brunswick area, our moose apparently aren’t as elusive as their Moosehead Lake cousins.

Wildlife officials estimate there is enough foliage on the island to sustain the moose for two weeks, and they say they aren’t making plans at this point to remove him. So, grab your camera, your binoculars and your kids, and drive over to the Androscoggin for Maine Moose Watching at its easiest.

P.S. Visit the Times Record online for their poll on what the moose should be named.

  • September 18, 2009 - 2:01 pm

    Karen - I love the moose pictures!!! I live in northern Maine and no matter what people say you dont see them that often. They sure are a sight when you do. I’m going to take a trip to moosehead lake in a couple of weeks I hope I have better luck than you when you went. It will be beautiful either way! Have a great day
    Karen

  • April 16, 2010 - 2:24 pm

    Shannon Post - I did not hear about this until he had already escaped. I’m so glad to see your images. Your wait paid off. I have not seen a moose since 1999! I’m due! Great capture!

  • May 19, 2012 - 9:27 pm

    Joan F - Hi Michele,
    Lisa suggested I contact you for some suggestions on Maine travel. I’m from Atlanta and she’s an “old” friend from years ago when my husband was principal of the elementary school her kids attended. I see you two share a strong family talent for both writing and photography!
    We are planning a trip up the Maine coast in July with our 20 and 21 yr old sons. I would love to have your take on the best spots to hit as well as places to stay. We would definitely like to head to Bar Harbor and Acadia though I still have to investigate how long that drive will take from Boston. If you have time to respond, we are looking for any recommended hotels/ B&Bs in Boston and up the coast. And to be realistic, not too pricey! Thanks so much, Joan

  • May 19, 2012 - 9:32 pm

    mstapleton - Hi Joan, So your husband must have been at Sarah Smith. Everyone loved that school! I’ll email you privately. Would love to help you plan your Maine adventure!

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Nothing says “Fourth of July is right around the corner” like Maine strawberries. The sweet gems are one of summer’s many delights in Maine.

If you have the time, pack the kids in the car and harvest your own.

The Get Real Maine website of the Department of Agriculture  is chock full of information on pick-your-own farms.

It’s very easy to find a farm near you.

Or, if you don’t have the time, pick up berries at your local farmers’ market.

Get Real can also help you find a farmers markets nearby.

(The luscious berries in this picture came from the Brunswick Farmers’ Market, which is held Tuesdays and Fridays on the town green.)

Also, you might get lucky and run up on a vendor selling strawberries from a booth set up alongside a state highway.

This past week I ran up on a booth on Route 1 just outside of Wiscasset.

Normally, there is a huge booth on Route 3 on the outskirts of Ellsworth near the Home Depot.

If you pick your own and come back with too many to eat, visit the website for the Rome Strawberry Patch, which has a half dozen yummy-looking recipes for your berries.

Enjoy!

Pecha Kucha is a fun new craze that is sweeping the world. In over 200 cities world-wide, it’s an event where creative people come together and share work in a very controlled format: each presenter can show 20 slides for 20 seconds, for a total presentation time of 6 minutes and 40 seconds. The strict format keeps things hopping!

My assistant Angie, her fiance Tim and I recently attended a Pecha Kucha in Portland and we had a blast. Among the 10 presenters that night were photographers, furniture makers, a filmmaker, an animator, an architect and an artist who draws only Labrador Retrievers. It was a fast-paced evening and we came away impressed with the presenters’ creativity.

The next Pecha Kucha will be June 15th right here in Brunswick, and I’m very excited to have been chosen to present that night. I’ve decided to expand on the “20 slides x 20 seconds” format by making my images from 20 unique places in Maine. So, no two slides will be from the same place. At first I worried that might be tough, but I’ve been fortunate to have assignments in so many wonderful places in Maine that it wasn’t hard to come up with 20 unique area to feature.  Below is a shot from a cabin on Daicey Pond in Baxter State Park as the sun rises behind Mount Katahdin.katahdin-sunrise

The Brunswick Pecha Kucha is being coordinated by the Five Rivers Arts Alliance and starts at 6 p.m. at Frontier Cafe, Cinema, & Gallery.  There will be two other photographer-presenters plus  a painter, an arts therapist, two furniture makers, a sculptor, a puppeteer, and a fiber artist. Reservation are recommended and can be made by emailing Five Rivers.

  • August 3, 2009 - 10:26 am

    Ulysses - Oh wow, Michele! This sample is so beautiful. I wouldn’t be awake enough at that time of morning to capture a meaningful photo, much less one as pristine and gorgeous as this one. I know your 20×20 project must have been simply amazing to see. 🙂

  • August 17, 2009 - 8:19 pm

    michelestapleton - I went to Baxter to climb Mount Katahdin with my good friend Alicia Anstead, a very talented writer. She woke me up saying “you have to see this.”

    The sad thing is that this cabin has been removed. It needed repairs, but because it was built on top of rocks and actually hung over the edge of Daicey Pond, repair efforts were deemed an environmental threat to the pond. Too bad, the location is breathtaking.

This past Saturday we were very fortunate to cover Commencement exercises at Bowdoin College for the fourth year. While another company snaps a photo of each graduate as she or he is handed a diploma by Bowdoin President Barry Mills, my assistant Angie Devenney and I were hired by the College to capture the story of the entire day in a body of work that will be used to illustrate an article about graduation in the Bowdoin Magazine and to meet all sorts of marketing needs the college might have (calendar, web site, view books, slide shows, etc.)

Bowdoin Commencement is always fun to photograph because the day is filled with great traditions, starting with a grand parade through The Quad.

Seniors assembled in front of Baxter House where they donned caps and gowns, grabbed juice, coffee and blueberry muffins (one hardy senior brought his own blueberry ale!) and lined up in alphabetical order.09_commencement-1611

As the seniors milled around waiting for the start of the parade, it was fun to catch some of the great details, like these gorgeous stoles sported by members of the African-American Society09_commencement-1761and the quirky Converse High Tops with lime laces worn by one senior.09_commencement-1641

While I started my day photographing the assembling seniors, Angie started the day shooting preparations in the ceremony area, and then climbing to the top of Hubbard Hall, the campus landmark at the south end of The Quad, from which she would get a aerial view of the festivities. It’s a precarious climb that requires carrying photo equipment up tight stairs and through a trap door onto the roof, but the climb pays off with a fantastic overview of the whole ceremony. (It’s good to have an assistant who isn’t afraid of heights!)

Here is a shot she took as the faculty were milling about in front of Hubbard, their staging area for the parade.09_commencement-2341

As the parade kicked off the seniors marched onto The Quad. Their first destination was to pass through the lined-up faculty. Here is a photo of the faculty in their colorful regalia as they took their places in front of Hubbard Hall.09_commencement-2651 Class President Christian Adams led his class through as the faculty applauded the seniors’ achievement.09_commencement-2891

The faculty traditionally joins the parade after the last senior passes, and at a later spot in the parade, the roles are reversed: The seniors stopped and flanked either side of the parade route and applauded the faculty as they entered the ceremony site and took their seats.09_commencement-3581

Bowdoin alumni play an important part of Commencement and they also joined the parade. It’s easy to spot the alums as they sport distinctive straw hats. Alums collect a round pins for each Commencement they attend, and some of the older alums had hats filled with pins.09_commencement-3711

The parade deposited seniors, faculty and alums at the seating set up in front of the Walker Art Museum. Here’s a great shot Angie got of the entire area from her perch on top of Hubbard.09_commencement-4681

What would a graduation ceremony be without speakers? At Bowdoin the tradition is to have students, chosen through competition, address their fellow graduates.  This year’s speakers were Samantha Scully and Ian Yaffe.09_commencement-495

Here are seated graduates listening to speakers; Angie found a child amusing herself with a stuffed Polar Bear, the school mascot.09_commencement-4831

Finally the time arrived for the awarding of degrees. Seniors lined up, many were nervous and excited at the same time as they waited their turn to walk up to the stage.09_commencement-6461

Parents and friends cheered as their graduate’s name was called. (Notice the martini glass; it will show up again in a later photo.)09_commencement-6691

Bowdoin College President Barry Mills personally handed out each diploma and shook each graduates’ hand.  09_commencement-591

Parents jockeyed for position to get pictures of graduates returning to their seats with diplomas in hand.09_commencement-6771

Finally, the ceremony ended with the traditional hat toss.
09_commencement-7321As the crowd filed out of the ceremony site, families and friends united to celebrate and take photos. Here’s a fun shot Angie got of some guys posing with celebratory cigars.09_commencement-7961

To wrap up the day there was a luncheon at the Field House complete with champagne toasts. (Yep, there’s the martini glass again.)09_commencement-8551

For even more photos, surf over to Bowdoin College’s Flickr site where hundreds of low resolution photos are posted from our coverage of Baccalaureate and Commencement. The easiest way to use Flickr is to click on the icon for the slideshow function on the right-hand side; the icon looks like a tiny screen. Prints of these images will be available for purchase from Bowdoin’s Printroom site beginning June 3, 2009.  For  in-depth coverage of the speeches and weekend events, check out the full write-up on the Bowdoin site.

  • May 29, 2009 - 12:41 pm

    Sonia Katchian - Splendid coverage of commencement, Michele! The people and businesses of Maine are lucky to have such a talented photographer as you in their midst….to say nothing of a very professional, and super nice person.

  • June 4, 2009 - 10:39 pm

    michelestapleton - Thanks Sonia! We love working for Bowdoin, it’s a gorgeous campus, they have super students who are very much at ease with us taking photos and they give us access to fun places from which to take photos–like helping Angie up onto the roof of Hubbard Tower. This year the light could not have been better during commencement. The soft cloud cover made all the harsh shadows go away!

  • November 11, 2009 - 11:27 pm

    Christopher O'Donnell - Hi Michele,

    I just found your blog. What great photos of graduation, I really love the movement you captured in the hat toss. I just moved to the Brunswick area last month and must say that Bowdoin is a beautiful campus, it must be great working those events.

    I’ll be checking in now and then to see what new things you post. It’s always great to discover fellow photographers in the area.

    Best,
    Christopher

I’m very pleased to have Angie Devenney photographing alongside me again this summer. Angie, who started as an office assistant in September of 2007, also shot with me in 2008.  Proficient in Adobe Photoshop, Lightroom and InDesign, Angie is also involved in editing and print making. And, she has her own photo web site.

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This is actually not her first foray into professional photography; during the summer of 2006 she assisted Boothbay Harbor photographer Bob Mitchell at weddings in the Boothbay Harbor-Southport Island area.

It’s probably envitable that Angie, who grew up in Jefferson (near Damariscotta), would end up working in some aspect of the arts. With a painter mom (Mary) who teaches high shcool art at Erskine Academy in China and wrote a rap song about the principals of design and a dad (Joe) who is an accomplished Maine stock and marine photographer with work published internationally, creativity is in her genes.

Informally, her immersion in art started at an early age, as both of her parents are also professional potters; many summers were spent making vases, urns, etc., that Mary and Joe sold through craft fairs, co-ops and as custom orders. Angie and her younger sister, Nina, helped out, “decorating” pieces with brown scribbles.

Angie’s formal training was at the Massachusetts College of Art and Design  in Boston, where she took courses in a wide range of discliplines (sculpture, glass, jewelry, ceramics) while pursuing a major in photography. With a focus on fine art photography Angie studied printing techniques, large format cameras and alternative photographic methods. During a semester abroad, she studied at Burren College of Art in Ireland, where she experimented with natural materials and mixed media, including this meticulous arrangement of flies:

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Immediately after college, Angie took a summer off from the arts to travel to Sitka, Alaska, where she worked at the Alaska Raptor Center, a rehabilitation center for injured bald eagles and other birds of prey on Baranof Island. Perhaps it wasn’t a total vacation from the arts, as she felt compelled to photograph the “cute, fuzzy mice” stored on site for feeding the center’s hawks, kestrels and owls.

Leaving Alaska before winter set in, Angie returned to Maine, settling in the Portland area, where she managed an after-school arts program for elementary students, an experience which made her pretty handy with pipe cleaners, popsicle sticks, Elmer’s glue and glitter.  In the meantime, she continued to pursue personal work in photography, exhibiting in galleries accross the Northeast, including the Portland Museum of Art (Biennial Show), and juried exhibits across the nation.  She has a show which opens next month at Khaki Gallery in Boston’s SOWA arts district. More details about the show are at Angie’s blog.

In her spare time she enjoys travel, camping, hiking, cooking, printmaking, alternative photographic process, and mixed media. And, most recently, she and fiance’, Tim, tackled the challenges of home ownership, buying a circa 1864 cape in South Portland, where they are painting, rehabbing hardwood floors, and gardening.

Below are two of Angie’s images from 2008 Commencement at Bowdoin College, one shot from ground level in front of Massachusetts Hall, the oldest building on campus, and the second, shot from the roof of Hubbard Hall, a campus landmark.bowdoin1

Another fun part of the rebranding effort has been producing a real time portfolio to go with the one that is online (the web site.)

Back in 2001 when I first launched MicheleStapleton.com, choices for portfolios were very limited; most photographers purchased a nice black leather portfolio at an art supply store and then produced twenty or so custom enlargements to slip into its clear pages.

However, the advent of digital photography and the explosion in digital books has completely redefined what passes for a portfolio; today photographers can produce custom coffee table books, many can have full photo covers.

I stumbled upon White House Customs Color’s press printed books about this time last year, and immediately was a fan. I upload digital files from my computer in Maine to WHCC’s lab in Minnesota. Within a week UPS is at my door with the finished book. You just can’t beat that kind of service.

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And, the quality is superior to so many other press printed books I’ve had the chance to examine. The price is maybe half what I would have paid in 2001 for a nice art store binder and prints. So, it’s the perfect intersection of high quality, reasonable cost and quick turnaround.

Working with Dana Baldwin, a very talented graphic designer in Brunswick who also happens to be a neighbor, I enjoyed being part of the bookmaking process. I started by selecting 120 or so images for Dana to work with. From that group she picked about half for the final book, selecting images for  impact and how they worked together on spreads.

I’ve always appreciate the talent that a graphic designer brings to the table since I have a sister who is one, but I’ve not always gotten an inside look at the designer’s thought process. It was fun to hear Dana explain why pictures A, B, and C worked together on a spread, but pictures A, B and D definitely did not.

First Dana designed a general book, for commercial and editorial clients. It features a sampling of  landscape, portraiture, higher education, editorial, commercial and architecture.

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After that book was sent to White House, Dana designed a book featuring solely education work. For the cover she suggested one of my very favorite photos ever, from commencement at the University of Maine.   It has rained the day before the outdoor ceremony at Alfond Stadium, and puddles of water on the track produced artsy reflections of the graduates walking to their seats. It was a gamble, because most folks will probably have no idea what the cover is or how it was produced (a picture heavily Photoshopped? a graphic?), but I’m so glad she recommended it, as it turned out looking great. The gritty texture of the track provides a speckled backdrop for the outlines of cap-and-gowned graduates walking by.

The books feature very large photos–often just one per page, and Dana finished the package off with nice details; for example, my name and new logo are on the spine.

If you’re an art buyer, magazine photo editor, or other potential client and want to see my work in a form other than what’s online, please drop me an email or call and we can ship a portfolio to you right away.

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  • April 27, 2009 - 2:03 pm

    Selby - Beautiful blog, Michele … and I love this photo of the new Bucksport Bridge, which I just crossed for the first time this weekend. Such a majestic and mysterious photograph you took!

  • February 27, 2010 - 1:04 pm

    Cara Carlson - What a beautiful way to feature your work! I’m going to have to do one of those.

  • March 23, 2010 - 5:59 pm

    mstapleton - Thanks Cara. They are not that hard to put together, and turnaround is really fast.