About Jo Ann and George Aiello

Having started our lives together in high school you would be correct in referring to us as the proverbial "high school sweethearts". Looking back this means as a husband and wife creative team we have been collaborating for over 40 years. We began our photography career as a form of self-expression in the early 1970s. Influenced by the West Coast "school" of photography, the majority of our work up through 2010 has been created using a view camera. We have always enjoyed the contemplative and deliberate approach to image making that comes from working with a view camera. As we became involved with digital image making we have strived to continue that approach.

The Land of Glittering Dreams Project

There was a day back in 1974 when armed with our first view camera we decided to take a day trip about a 100 miles or so from our home in the San Francisco Bay Area to the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains.  We really had no particular destination in mind. We were simply in the hunt for subject matter for our new 4x5 camera. We didn't just want to go to Yosemite, which at the time was every large format photographer's destination number one followed by Carmel and the Central California Coast, of course.  As we entered into the California foothills we passed an old abandoned cemetery just off of the road. We decided to turn back and explore it. Many of the gravestones were dated from the mid-1850's. Curiously, most of the residents of this lost town had distant birth places like Ireland and Italy. Except for the cemetery there was nothing around for miles. We couldn't help but wonder what brought these people together to live and die at this totally deserted and isolated spot? We exposed a few images and moved on.

Later that morning and little deeper into the foothills we ended up in the small gold rush town of Mokelumne Hill. We, of course, knew there was an area known as "the California Gold Country" but we didn't really know all that much about it or that it was so close to where we grew up. It's almost embarrassing to admit but at the time we knew little more about the gold rush then cliche and stereotypical impressions of "Gabby Hayes" types of characters with gold pans. Fortunately, that was soon to change.

There was something about the combination of the light that day, the old historic buildings, and the cemetery we visited earlier that stuck with us for many months. So, in 1975 we went back to further explore the area. This time we were armed with a little more information. The trip had an even larger impact on us from both a photographic sense as well as the historical significance of the place. It was then we decided to make it a project but we did not want to simply document the sites. Instead, we wanted to create a body of work that photographically interpreted the architecture, landscape and artifacts in what we hoped would be a more interesting way. A body of work that would be less about the literal representation of objects in front of the camera and more about conveying the overall sense of the place and its significance. It became a lifelong project that continues to this day. As we learned (and continue to learn) more about the immense impact the gold rush had on California and the nation, the more fascinating and rewarding we have found making photographs in The Land of Glittering Dreams.

The Commercial years

From the mid-1970s to the early 1990s we earned our living from architectural photography specializing in new homes, particularly custom homes. Our clients were architects, interior designers, and many custom and production home builders. As a result our images appeared in many publications and other printed media. Our clients won countless architectural and home building awards using our photographs as the basis for their entries. The experience provided many benefits in addition to earning a living. It forced us to really learn how to see the "real" subject rather than the first impression. The money we earned is long gone but the dividends it provided for our creative work continue to accrue.

The "Digital Domain"

As early adopters of creative technology we began scanning our 4x5 images and processing them in 1990 using Adobe Photoshop version 1. While the quality did not support fine photographic prints, the images could be used for various displays and offset printing. Our architectural clients used these digital images in advertising and other print media. As DSLR cameras improved we slowly transitioned to digital image creation. At present we are continuing to scan our 4x5 image library and we create all of our new work exclusively on digital equipment. The tools that are now available to us allow us to further explore and produce more interpretive images that, hopefully, are both familiar yet somehow communicate at a deeper level.

Web Technologies

In 1994, after a year with a computer network firm we were introduced to the Internet. At that time, the "web" text based but was rapidly progressing toward the support of photographs. In 1995, we co-founded a web development company called Infinite Access that later evolved into Escalet, Inc. where George is still CEO. 



Jo Ann and George Aiello are a husband and wife creative team that have been collaborating for over 40 years. We invite you to browse and participate on our site.


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