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Making a Difference: Photographer Hal Maggiore moves into semi-retirement

Making a Difference: Photographer Hal Maggiore moves into semi-retirement

The focus of his work will change

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After 45 years in the photography business, Hal Maggiore is closing up his shop.

He is shutting down the portrait side of the business, but will continue to do commercial photography and fine art reproduction. The business at 722 N. Eddy St. will close its doors April 23. Miller Tire is buying the building, which will be torn down.

Maggiore, 72, never planned on making his living as a photographer.

The Grand Island native developed an interest in photography in middle school. His father, Dr. Carl Maggiore, had darkroom equipment, which was not set up. Hal talked him into letting him set up the darkroom in their basement.

He did photography through high school at Central Catholic. All the years he was in college, “I carted around a darkroom and camera equipment.”

After one year in pre-med, Maggiore switched to architecture and then art. He spent two years at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and two years at California-Berkeley.

After meeting his future wife, Jubi, in Illinois, he wound up graduating from Northern Illinois with an education degree, majoring in art. He taught for a year in Elgin, Ill., before returning to his hometown.

In 1976, a small camera store, the Jack Bailey Camera Shop, was for sale in Grand Island. Maggiore talked to his father, and they spoke to an accountant. He and Jubi “decided that we could make a living with that business,” he said. Owner LaVern Fuller kept the Bailey photo studio.

In the early years, Maggiore stayed up into the early morning hours, processing film and doing black-and-white prints for business clients.

Later, the Maggiores purchased a building at the corner of Eighth and Eddy. In the late 1970s, the name of the business was shortened from the Jack Bailey Camera Shop to the Camera Shop.

When the current structure was built in 1981, it was known as the Camera Shop and Hal Maggiore Photography.

In the mid-1980s, Maggiore introduced the first one-hour finishing lab in Grand Island. The company did well in providing “what we considered a higher standard of quality,” he said.

For four years, Hal and Jubi also operated a camera shop and finishing lab in Hastings.

In the late 1990s, Maggiore closed the camera shop and finishing lab in Grand Island and expanded the studio.

The Maggiores started seriously thinking about closing the business three years ago, when one of their sons died. “It was a very challenging time,” he said.

But he wasn’t emotionally ready to retire. He’s spent the last three years getting ready.

He’s always tried to use the principles of art in creating images.

He worked hard to understand light, which in one sense is “the essence of photography,” he said. He tries to shape the light, manipulate it and use it to best convey the person or product he photographs.

In shooting an individual, the most important thing is “developing a relationship with that person, and allowing that person to come forward.”

Sometimes, “I’ve been very successful at that. Sometimes it’s been hard work.” When he has been successful, it’s very satisfying.

It took him a while to realize the value of his work.

“In the beginning, I saw an opportunity in this business to be able to provide for my family, and I had an interest in photography. But quite frankly, I had always considered what I did as a photographer and as a business person as not being as important or significant as what my brothers were doing, one of them being a physician and the other being a nuclear physicist.”

But over time, he began to realize that the photography he was doing, especially for people, “had significance to them. That act of creating photographs — portraits of their lives — was important to them. And so over a period of time, I began to see that the work I have done has really been in service to people.”

He’s taken an interest he had and used it as a way to be of service, he said.

He’s also had a lot of great employees during the years.

The Maggiores, who have been married 49 years, have three living children and 10 grandchildren.

His commercial clients have included local banks, Hornady Manufacturing and Chief Industries. He’s done a lot of work with local schools. For about 25 summers, Maggiore photographed local softball players.

Among other things, he’s enjoyed taking senior photos. “I love young people,” he said. He liked developing relationships with them and discussing photo ideas.

“I have photographed a lot of seniors over the years,” he said.

His extensive files include photos of the 1980 tornadoes.

Maggiore was able to photograph President Reagan a couple of times. “Spent a day with him, actually.” He also shot President Carter’s visit to Grand Island after the tornadoes.

While he’s looking forward to the next part of his life, he also has “some sadness and feelings of loss.”

Maggiore hopes his work will find a permanent home somewhere.

Most of his photos are of young people, families and weddings.

“But intermixed in that are things that have historical significance, and we don’t know what’s going to become historically significant in the future,” he said.

It would be nice if his photos can be preserved, so that people researching subjects in the future would be able to have access to them, he said.

As he slows down his business interests, Maggiore wants to pursue his longtime interest in art.

“I want to explore photography as an art form — separate from a commercial endeavor, and see what I can learn and discover and develop in a more personal way.”

Heading into semiretirement, the emotion he feels the most is gratitude.

“I am very grateful,” he said. “I’m grateful to my father. I’m grateful to the city of Grand Island, the support that we have received here.”

He’s thankful to local schools, companies and every client he’s had.

Maggiore said he is “very, very grateful for this opportunity that I have had to be of service.”

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