Portfolio: Photographer Sandra Scarpelli
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When you come from a place of passion, you will naturally excel. So thinks photographer Sandra Scarpelli. It's something she finds herself constantly telling her kids, that you have to follow your heart and do what you love.
The freelance photographer lives in Vaughan but works with clients all over the GTA. Photography is her second career. After graduating from university with a degree in political science, she went straight into business, opening her own clothing store. She had a natural flair for fashion and ran the business successfully for more than a decade—but it wasn't what her heart wanted.
She went back to school to study photography and has now worked in the field for just as many years. Her passion, she says, gives her a relaxed approach to her craft.
“I think people feel it. I'm there to do the work and I put a lot into it because I want to, it's not forced,” she says.
Perhaps because she also studied history, she thinks of photographs as important artifacts.
“Imagine having a beautiful photograph of your mom when she was 20 and then 40 and maybe 70. I think that's so important,” Scarpelli says. “Maybe it comes from wanting to capture history—a family's history.
“That's key for me,” she continues, “that someone can have a keepsake or memento of something that was a big part of their life. You can always look back and the photo is there for you.”
Her work itself is varied and open, which seems to suit her gregarious personality. “When I do something I always want to come at it from a different angle—not weird-different, just not typical,” she explains.
She loves portraiture and is particularly drawn to the eyes.
“Not all pictures are about looking at the camera, but a connection has to be there. I think you can feel or see that in my photographs,” she says. Even when her subjects are animals, her focus is on their expressive faces. She favours tight shots for the intimacy and closeness.
It's only natural that many of the things she loves have made their way into her work—flowers, food, beautiful homes and graphic cityscapes. She has also provided the photography for a cookbook and is occasionally commissioned to do special projects.
Scarpelli is an accredited member of the Professional Photographers of Canada. Two of her fine art photographs were entered into a provincial-level competition and one won best overall. It meant a lot to her to be recognized by her peers.
Recently Scarpelli has been volunteering with Vaughan's Animal Services, taking photographs of the dogs and cats that find sanctuary there. The photos go into a huge database called Petfinder that covers the United States and Canada.
“If you want to adopt a pet you can search by location and a nearby animal services or animal rescue group will come up. You can even search by photograph,” she says. She thinks professional photographs of the animals can make a difference and has been told that they help. It's something she truly loves to do.
A selection of these photographs will be featured in PETSCAPES, Tails of the Lost + Found, an exhibition that is this year's instalment in the City of Vaughan's Planet Earth Series.
“Sandra's compositions reflect the deep emotional bond we share with our animal friends and reminds us that as conscientious caregivers we all share a role in responsible pet ownership,” says Sharon Gaum-Kuchar, City of Vaughan arts coordinator.
The photography exhibition PETSCAPES, Tails of the Lost + Found, is on display at Vaughan City Hall until April 28.


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