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Sal La Rocca: Sharing the space with the wind

Shea Stanfield~ 10/22/2014

“Photography ignites the imagination, enables seeing beyond visual expression and transcends language in awakening new possibilities.” Local photographer Sal La Rocca’s goal is to create images that explore the possibilities in new interpretations of color and space. A master at his craft and a compelling visual artist, Sal offers all of this and more in his hauntingly beautiful images.

Sal was born and raised in the northeast. He moved with his wife Sandra to Cave Creek from Massachusetts in 1996 following a successful 32-year business career in Sales and Marketing. The last 28 years was with Polaroid Corporation where he began to polish his skills in photography. 

Sal’s love of the Southwestern landscapes started many years before in 1973 when he was introduced to the rough edges and sleek side of the wild Sonoran Desert during a business trip. In subsequent years, Sal and Sandra returned to the area during their vacations.  In 2005, at the urging of family and friends who enjoyed his images, Sal created his new enterprise, Southwest Images Etc.  This would take his joy and passion for photography into primetime.

Sal is a self-taught student in darkroom processing and astrophotography.  While exploring the night sky, Sal added his photographic knowledge while capturing images through his 11-inch telescope housed in his home built observatory.  Soon
Sal accumulated in excess of 10,000 35mm slides from the skies about and his various travels. 

Using environmental elements and his imagination, Sal’s images introduce emotion and style into his images others can enjoy. The goal is to transport the viewer to the location, sharing the excitement of the captured moment.  Sal comments, “The Southwest offers all the elements for creating endless moods with an ever-changing vibrant color palette.  To capture this to share with others is a wonderful and challenging experience. 

Initially, creating the most captivating images begins simply with going into the wild in search of the subject. In Sal’s case it could be local landscapes, different parts of the country, or even traveling abroad. Seeking out that most elusive and alluring light, shape, color, or composition is the primary initial focus of a great image.

Often, in the process, Sal is drawn off the path in search of a hidden possibility. He enjoys feeling the energy and spirit of the location, as he would describe it “sharing the space with the wind and silent creatures around you….each image requires patience and a healthy amount of luck. It’s the greatest feeling when you know you’ve got it.”

The creative process goes a few steps further when Sal utilizes Adobe Photoshop to enhance some of his images. One technique involves removing all the color from the photograph, reverting to a line drawing, adding color in high contrast, then working on the individual hues and manipulating the saturation and sharpness. The process is extremely time-consuming, but the results are absolutely stunning. The possibilities are endless for capturing Mother Nature’s images when she isn’t looking.

Sal is a member of the Sonoran Arts League. Meet him and enjoy a large variety of his images at Studio #16 during the Hidden In The Hills Studio Tour, Nov. 21-23 and 29-30, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. each day.  For further information on the tour, visit 

To view images in Sal La Rocca’s portfolio online, visit his Web site at Here you can learn more about Sal’s process, contact him with questions, or purchase your favorite creations for your home, office, or as that perfect gift.

Contact Arts Columnist Shea Stanfield at