A stunning view of Boathouse Row at sunset. (Photo by Steve Feistel)

A stunning view of Boathouse Row at sunset. (Photo by Steve Feistel)

by Len Lear

Part two of interview with Chestnut Hill resident Steve Feistel, 45, winner of last year’s CHCA Calendar Contest:

What is it about photography that intrigues you?

Well, the old saying goes “A picture is worth a thousand words.” It is a cliche, but it’s true. A photograph is a snapshot in time. It immortalizes a moment. I am drawn to and inspired by beauty in all its forms, whether that is nature, people, animals, architecture or other man-made creations. I love the outdoors, and few things are as enjoyable as being surrounded by a beautiful landscape like the mountains, sea or a scenic skyline. I just love visiting the national parks. The best photography can tell a story and elicit emotions, but not every one will. Some may show interesting light or something aesthetically appealing and nostalgic. It’s really rewarding to capture a great image and print it larger than life to have forever.

I once took a five-week trip cross-country to see some of the national parks I hadn’t been to previously. I camped at 12 national parks and of course brought my cameras along and did a makeshift blog from my laptop on the few nights I had a hotel room and electricity. I worked on a tight budget, sleeping in a tent, eating canned soups and dry goods. My biggest expense was gas. The few nights I needed a hotel because it was dark and I had been driving for 8-11 hours were inexpensive roadside places in the middle of nowhere. It was one of the best and most freeing experiences of my life. I actually considered taking residence at Yellowstone National Park for the remainder of the summer, but I couldn’t bear being away from my pooches that long.

What do you like to do in you spare time?

Besides photography, I enjoy cooking, golf, tennis, skiing, hiking, movies, travel and spending time with my girlfriend and three dogs.

What are your favorite books, movies and TV shows of all time?

I have too many movies to list. Stanley Kubrick is my favorite director and is an amazing cinematographer. I also enjoy anything by Martin Scorsese, George Roy Hill, Francis Ford Coppola, Terrance Malick, the Coen brothers and Clint Eastwood. Movies like “High Plains Drifter,” “Goodfellas,” “The Departed,” “A Clockwork Orange” and “The Sting.” I can watch “Apocalypse Now” over and over. I enjoy a good, silly Chevy Chase or Steve Martin type movie as well. “Fletch,” “Caddyshack” and “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels” are classics. My favorite TV shows are “Mad Men,” “The Office” and “The Colbert Report,” and I’ve kinda been hooked on “Shark Tank” lately.

Do you have a spouse and/or children?

I live with my significant other, Julie Byrne, and three dogs, Lacy, Nibbles and Misty, plus two old cats, Romeo and Smokey.

Steve Feistel and his companion, Julie, are seen last year at a castle in England.

Steve Feistel and his companion, Julie, are seen last year at a castle in England.

If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?

This is a tough question because I find so many different places inviting and exciting for different reasons. I could be very happy in Hawaii, San Francisco or anywhere in Oregon, having recently visited for the first time. I don’t like extreme climates, and I want to be close to nature, mountains and beautiful scenery…I’ve never been to Italy but can imagine it must be a wonderful place to live, too. As a child, it was very painful to keep moving and make new friends, change schools and settle down…I know my life would have been very different if I had lived in one place, for better or worse.

What people in your life have you admired the most?

I admire talented people who were self-made and live life on their own terms with integrity and really care about what they do. People like Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam, Jimmy Page, Clint Eastwood, Cal Ripken and Stanley Kubrick. They are all artists and geniuses in their own way. Their talents and drive allowed them to control their own destiny and play/work how they wanted without much, if any, compromise. They didn’t need or care about the approval of the press or media, overcame heavy criticism, and their work stood the test of time. Their actions spoke louder than words. Coincidentally, they are all introverts like myself. Being a logical and analytical type, I never felt I had a really strong artistic thread in my blood, but photography allows me to have some creative vision I might not otherwise have…Unfortunately, I just don’t have the genes to be a virtuoso guitarist. I love music, drawing, painting and sculpture, but never had the aptitude or the patience to try to develop those skills. I think you are born with much of it.

Who has had the strongest impact on your life?

My parents. They gave me a good foundation and values to start my adult life with and made plenty of sacrifices so I could pursue sports and get an education.

If you could spend time with any person(s) from history, living or dead, who would it be?

I’d probably enjoy playing a round of golf with Clint Eastwood at Pebble Beach and having a beer and dinner afterwords.

What qualities do you most like and dislike in other people?

I like honesty, generosity, intelligence, adventurousness, independent thinking, modesty and dependability, along with a healthy sense of humor. I dislike compulsive liars, manipulators, selfishness, being closed minded or know-it-all, substance abuse, smoking, bad drivers, being ignored, texting while driving or self-grandiose.

What are your hopes for the future?

To stay healthy, stable and happy. I’d like to travel a lot, too, and keep improving my capabilities in all endeavors.

More information about the CHCA calendar at celeste@chestnuthill.org or 215-248-8811. You can also visit chestnuthill.org.

— Part One