By Marc Gave | New Pelican Writer
Lisa Pellegrino is clear about how she sees her future: traveling, taking photos of her travels, and displaying them in her own gallery. Getting there is the part she’s still figuring out.
Pellegrino began taking photos at a young age but started to come into her own when she moved to South Florida in 2004 and put her camera to work photographing one of her passions: deep-sea fishing.
Many people have fantasies of traveling and taking pictures, but what enabled Pellegrino to do that was “being in the right place at the right time. As I was becoming recognized for my photography, I partnered up with another artist. People hired me for their marketing campaigns. I got free flights, meals, and lodging. They got the marketing rights to my shots, but I got to keep the rest. It was a win-win.”
Making her mark shooting marine and coastal scenes, Pellegrino was eager to branch out. “I wanted people to see what I saw, feel what I felt, and learn what motivated me to print my photos.”
She recalls a trip to the Galápagos, where she went to write a piece on weddings. “To reach a church, I had to walk up 444 steps. The building, with its stained glass, was magnificent. It was a life-changing experience.”
The images she’s captured include a school in Guatemala and the desolate Isla Carmen in the Sea of Cortés off Baja California Sur, including an abandoned house, a rusted car, and a cemetery with a lone rose. Storytelling became an integral part of her work.
“After a few years,” she recounts ruefully, “the partnership dissolved. I signed a noncompete clause, and it took me 12 years to get back to photography.”
From that time, she developed an inventory of thousands of images. Unfortunately, a week ago, her external hard drives crashed, and now she faces the long, difficult process of rebuilding a portfolio.
Still, she tries to look on the bright side. She believes in spreading happiness. “There’s not enough kindness in the world,” she says emphatically.
And nonetheless, after that 12 years’ absence, you might say Pellegrino has returned with a splash. A call to artists by the Broward Art Guild for its Black & White show prompted Pellegrino to submit a piece called “Whale’s Tale,” one image from a sequence of a pilot whale pod coming up to her fishing boat.
Judging by the recognition she has received, it’s another case of being in the right place at the right time. “I was asked to hang my work through Broward Art Guild’s Art Around Town program at the Broward County Governmental Center in Fort Lauderdale. And VoyageMIA.com approached me to do a story. I find that a lot happens through word of mouth.”
Pellegrino has her photos printed on canvas in a process called giclée – a large-format, high-resolution, high-quality inkjet technology. “Ken Beberman at ArtRepro near me, in Pompano Beach, does all my printing. He uploads, prints, varnishes. In addition, it allows me to the embellish the image with acrylic paint to give it a ‘pop.’”
To bankroll her aspirations of getting back to photography full-time, Pellegrino has been working hard putting away money. For eight years, she was a bartender at the Fort Lauderdale–Hollywood Airport. An unanticipated result of that was being asked to include two of her pieces in a recent employees’ art exhibit.
To view Pellegrino’s show at the Broward County Governmental Center, 115 S. Andrews Ave., visit the third floor Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. or contact her for a guided tour via her website, coastalbeachfurnishings.com; her Facebook page, Lisa M Pellegrino; or her Instagram, @Lisapelle.