“Art and photography are subjective,” muses Marcel Seamples with a smile. “What I find beautiful will not appeal to you, and what you think gorgeous may draw a shrug from me. That’s what makes what I do priceless!” It is Marcel’s priceless photography that makes him the February Artist of the Month at the Fort Myers Beach Public Library’s 3rd-floor exhibit area, with roughly 60 of his mesmerizing masterpieces on display.
“The photography bug bit me at a young age, when I was a high school freshman and took a class. From that moment, I couldn’t get enough of it.” He joined the Navy immediately after high school because “I wanted to travel and be on the water. When I enlisted, you could request your assignment and I asked to be on a large boat that saw the world, and was lucky to do my duty on the USS Enterprise. She was a nuclear-powered vessel and the largest boat on earth at that time!”
Good Morning Vietnam!
Marcel’s posting was to the ship’s Public Relations Office: “I was the central photographer, editor of the twice-a-week newspaper, and producer of the television show we broadcast to the entire fleet. The most fun was being the disc jockey on my own radio show that went out to the fleet as well – I was ‘Good Morning Vietnam’ before ‘Good Morning Vietnam!’” Following 2 years’ active duty; he did another 4 in the Naval Reserve while attending college in Milwaukee.
Soon after graduation, Marcel received an offer from Feldcamp & Malloy Advertising to be their youngest staff photographer. “This was the mid-1960s and photography was so different,” he recollects. “We did all of our own film processing for national clients like Sears, Motorola TV, and International Harvester. For one Motorola ad we built a complete room set over 4 days, filled it with the TV and furnishings, then brought in ‘The Family.’ It took one full week of work for that one shot! Now everything is digital, easier, and much less expensive.”
After five years, life changes brought professional changes, with Marcel becoming a partner in an automobile business and rental company firm. During this time, he and his late wife Sheryl made several trips to Southwest Florida to visit five sets of aunts & uncles who were residents here. “We loved it, and after our third trip took the plunge, bringing down our 1-year-old daughter Marci and not having a clue how we would make our fortune.”
Because of his automobile pedigree, he looked for work at DeVoe Cadillac. “They liked my background but had no openings,” Marcel relates. “I came back every day for two weeks until the general manager finally hired me, though he had no idea what I would do. They quickly put me in sales and I remained there for 13 years, until I shifted to residential and commercial real estate on January 1, 1990, and I remain in that career.”
My Great Hobby
Throughout all this, Marcel never stopped taking photographs. “It became my great hobby – I love to travel and photography is perfect for that; in fact, photography drives my travel locations.” As he is half-Greek and half-French, those are natural, although Marcel “likes Switzerland, Cuba was incredible, and I just recently returned from Tanzania! The Grand Canyon and Yellowstone National Parks are breathtaking.”
Future plans include Nepal, including flying into the Lukla Airport to visit the Mount Everest base camp; The History Channel named Lukla the most dangerous airport on earth! “It will be an experience,” says Marcel with understatement. “There are less than 20 pilots authorized to take off and land from there, and you only get one shot – no free retakes like in digital photography! The Everest base camp should be an adventure.”
As for his upcoming FMB Library adventure, Marcel says his show came up recently and unexpectedly. “They had an artist scheduled for over a year for February, but unfortunately there was a cancellation over a family issue. Dr. Leroy Hommerding, the Library director, roughly four months ago offered our local camera club the chance to fill the gallery show and about 20 of us submitted works. Dr. Hommerding call me, said he liked what he saw, and invited me to do a one-man show – I immediately said ‘heck yes’ and was overjoyed! Fort Myers Beach is lucky to have such a first-rate library.”
Meet The Artist
Marcel’s exhibit runs throughout the month, with a Meet the Artist Reception on Thursday, February 16, at 3:30 p.m. Display pieces will include the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone National Park, Cuba, Geneva, the French Alps, Myrtle Beach, Tanzania, the California coast, and of course Southwest Florida.
A personal favorite is the fishing shack photograph: “I like the depth and emotion you get from the birds taking flight,” says Marcel “That was near Cabbage Key. The Cuban street scenes I like very much, and shots from Tanzania are near the top of my list.”
While all of Marcel’s work are available for purchase, money does not drive his passion. “Every year I produce for relatives, friends, and business associates a photographic calendar and catalog that details my travels over the previous 12 months; people so look forward to these and I get great joy from their happiness. My greatest personal payoff is when someone tells me ‘I love that photograph – it speaks to me!’ There is no amount of money that can make me feel more humble and happy. It sends chills down my spine and that makes it all worthwhile.”
To send chills down your spine, visit the Marcel Seamples photography exhibit at the 3rd floor display area throughout February; to see the Fort Myers Beach Public Library’s roughly 50 February programs see www.fmb.lib.fl.us; for related details call 239-765-8162. The library is at 2755 Estero Boulevard; hours are Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., with Wednesday to 7 p.m. Saturday hours are 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.; closed Sunday and holidays including Presidents’ Day on Monday, February 20.