Photo: ©2013; Dylan Cascio

Gary Cascio is a graphic designer and photographer who lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Originally from Louisiana, Gary moved to New Mexico in 1989.

His graphic design firm, Late Nite Grafix, Inc. has been featured in such industry publications as Communications ArtsHOW Magazine, Print Magazine and Prints Best Logos and Symbols. Most recently, he appeared in Communications Arts & HOW magazines, where a poster series he designed for the Museum of New Mexico’s 90th Anniversary was featured.

He has also garnered Addy awards and Citations of Excellence in both the New Mexico and Santa Fe Ad Club’s award competitions. Gary has received numerous local, regional and national awards including the NAAN 100 Best, Printing Industry Association of the South and the American Advertising Federation (AAF) where he has received Best Illustration, Best Photography and Best of Show honors.

I have always felt the need to photograph.

My surroundings, my family, my friends, my passage through life. I have wanted to document life as I see and experience it. It’s just a my creative mind crying out for a little bit of immortality…sort of a “Kilroy Was Here” thing. At best, maybe those who come after me or stay longer than I do, will remember what life was like…at least as I saw it.

I really started photographing in college in the early ’70’s. (Which now causes my college era buddies no end of embarrassment and consternation since I never throw anything away…especially photos.)

After graduating from college with a Bachelor of Art degree with a minor in Advertising, I moved back to Shreveport, LA to begin what I assumed would be a career as a graphic designer. But I first got a job with a commercial photography studio which worked with advertising agencies in the area. Great, I thought. This would combine the best of both worlds for me…advertising and photography.

Then one day I had a talk with the owner of the business. He suggested I get a job at an advertising agency. “Look around”, he said. “I have cameras, lights, lenses, chemicals, photo paper, film, etc. that I use in my business. I constantly have to buy things to keep my business going. Advertising…you only need a drafting table and a t-square and you’re set”. (Remember…this was before computers.)

So, I took his advice and begin a career in advertising, which continues more or less to this day. But photography never left me. My best friend was a photographer and he and I would constantly get together and “go photographing”.

One day, I discovered a photo gallery in Dallas called “The Texas Center for Photographic Studies” run by a guy by the name of David Pond-Smith. He had exhibits, openings and workshops by photographers like Minor White, Ralph Gibson, Arnold Newman, and Jerry Uelsmann. I went there as often as I could. Had even signed up for a workshop that Minor White was doing but unfortunately he cancelled that workshop by dying.

But I really got into Jerry. I loved his take on surrealism.  He photographed one or more things and then turned them into his own reality.

While I did not have a darkroom to do the manipulations and multiple burnings Uelsmann did, I tried my best to imitate him. I was shooting with a Nikkormat camera and using Kodachrome transparency.

I built a wooden contraption that I could set my Nikkormat into, then a little cardboard device to combine two slides with and then a light source I could now combine two slides together in a more or less automated fashion (before, I would take two slides, hold them together with my fingers, point them toward the sun and rephotograph them). I jumped on that surrealism train big time. On I went, but then gradually I stopped combining different images and just began looking for what I considered to be surrealist images already in existence. I did that for years. And then I felt I had reached an end with my surrealism photography. I couldn’t find anymore to say, so I put my camera down.

Then my wife and I moved to New Mexico.

After a few years with an office in town, I decided to move into a room at my house. To entertain myself, I set up hummingbird feeders outside my window. I would sit at my computer and stare out the window at them during the day. Then a thought began percolating…maybe I should get a real camera and start photographing these hummingbirds before they’re gone for the season. So I jumped in and got myself a Nikon D-90. I began photographing like crazy…right up until they left for the season. One winter went by with no bird photography and then spring came back around and so did the hummingbirds. I photographed them right up until they left again and finally it hit me…why not buy feeders to attract other birds year round? So I did. Now I work literally with my camera sitting on my desk so I can pick it up whenever an interesting bird is outside in my bird sanctuary.

While I enjoyed photographing birds I wanted to get back into Photography with a capital “P”. Living in New Mexico, it wasn’t hard to start photographing the land. Now, I provide photos for environmental groups and sell photos to interested buyers. I’ve even given a talk or two.