A Northwest photography icon

As part of my beat with L’Italo-Americano, I get to learn more about the Italians and Italian Americans who call this region home. Although I have lived in Seattle for more than 20 years, my roots are back East, in Pennsylvania, and surprisingly, that seems to make a huge difference. If you don’t grow up somewhere, hearing your parents talk about certain people or places around the dining room, believe me, it’s hard to catch up.

So it was a fun assignment to learn more about Seattle Times photographer (and Italian American) Josef Scaylea. Scaylea grew up in New England but moved to the Pacific Northwest soon after World War II. He worked his way up the ladder at The Seattle Times, winning more than 1,000 photography awards, and ended up as the paper’s chief photographer. The reading public loved him and The Seattle Times was besieged with requests for his photos whenever they appeared. He had a way with his subjects, making the final product look more like art than a photograph.

Scaylea was asked to retire from the paper when he turned 70 but that did not phase him. He just kept taking photos, relying on his Hasselblad camera and Zeiss lenses. He died in 2004 at the age of 91. Read more about this amazing local talent and see some of his great photography here.