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From the Editor

We put grand resources and effort into bringing you beautiful and compelling photography. But often the stories behind what you see never get into print—and perhaps some of them should. They’re sometimes funny, sometimes moving, sometimes daunting adventures.

On p. 82, you’ll see Karen Bartlett’s lovely photo capturing the grandeur and sweep of Gordon Drive. It took courage … and more. Though leery of heights, Karen went up in a two-seat helicopter to get the best vantage point. And then, strapped in, she leaned as far out of the craft as she could to zero in on the subjects below. Over and over, she stretched out to the maximum, and, each time, pilot Joe Frangione placed an entreating hand on her knee, which she pushed away with purpose. When the helicopter was back on the ground, Karen asked what was with all that hand-on-the-knee stuff. "Oh," he said, laughing. "Every time you stretched out, your foot pressed on sensitive communications gear, and I had to get you off that." So much for romance. So much for art.

When Vanessa Rogers did a shoot at a spa for us a while back, she had anticipated having someone there lying under a blanket for a massage. Unfortunately, no one was available to do this. Vanessa’s solution: I’ll be the model and the photographer. Thus, she had to bare her shoulders, set the camera, race to the massage table and settle in—all in a few seconds’ time. She recalls having to leap up to get on the table while she was laughing hysterically—and then forcing a serene look for the photo. Often, she didn’t get there in time. It took a half-hour, but she got the shot and surely earned a massage herself (and a gold medal for the run, hop and pose event).

In Carlton Ward’s brilliant take on the glories of Southwest Florida for last year’s tourist annual, one truly arresting shot was a close-up of a serious-looking bear. When I asked him how close to the bear he had to get to secure the shot, Carlton replied, "I was in Italy." Seems as if he had rigged the camera with a trip wire and left the country. That’s as close to the bear as I’d have liked to come as well.

At a difficult time in his personal life, Luca Guarneri took an assignment from us to photograph children with cancer. He remembers, for example, Assta Kaba, a beautiful 12-year-old with profound, and profoundly sad, eyes. How could he approach her? Gently, he tried some jokes. No good. Then he told Assta how much her mother loved her. And the biggest, most wonderful smile spread across her face. The power of mom, Luca marveled. Wow. He says the love and courage he discovered among these children and families fighting to lead normal lives inspired and lifted him at a time when he needed it the most.

How do you arrange a photo of four baby screech owls nesting in a yard in Pelican Bay? Very carefully, discovered photographer Rod Wiley. On his first try, he got dive-bombed by a protective parent (forcing him to return with a hat and sunglasses). It took five trips to get the little darlings all on the same page, as it were. To their credit, they made incredible eye contact with the camera … no doubt understanding their 15 minutes of fame had begun.

But there’s one photo I’m not explaining. A friend I hadn’t seen since college sent a note about my picture on this page. Either you haven’t changed in all these years, he said, or someone there is very, very good with Photoshop. If he wants to know, my pal will just have to come to paradise and find out for himself.

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