I met Les when I started working at Mass Audubon’s Laughing Brook Wildlife Sanctuary in Hampden, MA, as Environmental Education Coordinator. I was new to the greater Springfield/Hampden area so I didn’t yet know the key environmental characters I would meet through my work. Knowing that I, too, am a photographer, everyone told me I needed to meet some guy named Les Campbell. That was in 1978. Over the next 42 years, we would form a supportive and special friendship.
Les impressed me with his photographic knowledge, his organizational skills, his dedication to teaching, and so much more. His kindness shined through everything he did. I was totally elated to work in his shadow on whatever project he and Terry were engaged in. That meant I became active with Focus:Outdoors, (among other things) which was a 3-day weekend conference that featured speakers, field trips, and workshops, and it focused on… the OUTDOORS, of course!
This beauty landed in a tree overlooking my deck one evening at dusk. His markings seemed to echo the surrounding bark and lichens. I loved how he stared at me for several minutes and allowed me time to run inside to grab my camera.
Les’s bird photography was simply amazing, setting a high bar. This image reminds me of Les, because one of his photos that he gifted to me once was a black and white image of a Barn Owl.
Vernal Pond in Autumn
This image was taken near my home when I lived in Hampden, MA, at a vernal pond that supports amphibians through their life cycle.
Les specialized in shooting phenomenal photos of the Quabbin, displaying its personality through the seasons. He was fortunate to have such 24/7 access during all qualities of light, and he knew just what to do when he had a special view through his camera. His work inspired me to learn how to create as beautiful photos as I possibly could. This photo recorded an amazing mirror-like quality to the water, reflecting the warm autumn colors, blue sky, and remaining greenery. It has a layered effect, as the autumn leaves float upon the
Haystack on Cannon Beach, Oregon Pond
Many times, nature photographers leave people out of their nature images. Les was skilled at placing people in his nature scenes and I loved how he posed them so naturally. I was motivated to try this skill, which was never as natural for me as it was for Les. The people in this image are my husband and his high school daughter enjoying sunset at Cannon Beach.
Les was a real people person. He made people feel as if they mattered. The more I got to know Les, the more he wanted to support my photography. He introduced me to a gallery owner who subsequently offered me a show in his gallery, and of course Les showed up
at my opening.
One special Les memory I will carry with me always is from 2005 when I announced to PVPA friends that I was going to move from the Pioneer Valley to Montpelier, Vermont, to get married. Les had been cogitating on an idea for an annual PVPA banquet that would single out one member per year to recognize the contributions they had made to the photographic community. He decided to use my departure as a test balloon to see if his banquet idea would fly. Unbeknownst to me, he and a small committee that included my high school daughter, were secretly making plans for the banquet that would celebrate me. When they had a committee meeting to put this idea into action, my daughter fibbed that she was going to the library to study with friends, when she was actually attending the committee meeting in order to supply names of my non-PVPA close friends who would also be invited to this surprise banquet and going-away party. On the appointed evening, my daughter drove me to what was then the Lord Jeffrey Amherst Inn, supposedly to have a dinner together, but when we arrived, PVPA members and friends were delighted to surprise me. I sat at the head table, there were printed programs and speeches – including a tearful one from me - and I was given a lovely book containing beautiful photos from all my PVPA friends. Indeed, this event has now turned into PVPA’s annual banquet with one person chosen annually to be feted and honored much in the same way that I was, speeches, photo book, and all. Most years I would make the trip down from Montpelier to attend the PVPA banquet and join in celebrating a member as I had been. When we moved back to the Valley in 2019, one of my first social events was this continuing banquet.
My life has been made richer by having known Les for 42 years, learning about nature, photography, the Quabbin, crafting fine slide shows, offering enriching programs, and most especially, showing kindness and generosity to everyone. You won’t meet many people like Les; he was one-of-a-kind and is missed every day by so many.