Local Photographer Joe Lupo Captures Beach Life


There’s a saying, “A walk on the beach is worth a thousand words,” and local Joe Lupo is not just a mere lensman, but a documentarian, who meaningfully captures the ethereal mystery and beauty of Rockaway Beach with his captivating shots. From breathtaking sunrises, sunsets, ocean, sand, nature, wildlife and surf, Lupo’s photos make you dream in colors borrowed from the sea; and if you haven’t seen his work already, you’ll soon have a chance. The beach gazer will be debuting his first one-man photo exhibit showcasing 26 of his beautifully wood-framed images at Community House this Sunday, January 20.

Brooklyn-born, New Jersey-bred Lupo is a renaissance man of sorts, who over his 50 plus years has worn many hats with the vocations he pursued, and according to him, has always marched to the beat of his own drum.

He explained, “After I finished school, for seventeen years I was a buyer for an electronic distribution company, catering to the military, aircraft and shipping industry. Then I purchased an Italian specialty delicatessen, which I ran for nine years. When I turned 50, I decided to go to cosmetology school, and for the last ten years of my professional career, I was a hairdresser at a salon in Manhattan.”

So how did Lupo fall into photography? “From my teens, I was a shutterbug, when in the 70s, it was film photography. My dad was a shutterbug himself, and as a young boy I spent many hours in the dark room watching him develop photos, but I’ve never developed film myself. However, I loved taking photos, but didn’t wholly dive into it until I landed in Rockaway.”

For Lupo, winding up in Rockaway was his destiny.

“When I was 30 years old, I went to visit my grandmother, and she presented an old camera that even had the accordion bellows, which belonged to my grandfather. I opened it and saw there was an old exposed roll of film. I took it to be developed, and when I saw the photos, my jaw dropped. There were 12 black and white photos of me when I was a year old in a stroller on Riis Park Beach. At that moment, I truly felt that it was a message from my grandfather with a clue to my future. Ultimately the full circle of being born in Brooklyn, where here I am a happy baby on the beach, and an intimation that when I retire, I am going to be a happy old man on the beach. And sure enough, here I am today — a happy old man on the beach,” Lupo laughed.

Lupo moved to Rockaway in October of 2015, and that was when his passion and prowess for photography skyrocketed.

“I am a beach person. I’m not necessarily a zodiac believer, but my sign is a water sign, and I do feel a very strong draw to the ocean. Not just during the summer, but all seasons. I find the beach to be therapeutic and spiritual, especiallya a snow-covered beach. Even if the snow is falling, that spiritual connection that comes with the solitude, nature and ocean sounds, is profound. Of course in the summertime, there are other components like the sand between your toes and the warmth of the sun. However, sunrises and sunsets in the winter are just as meaningful as in the summer,” Lupo said.

The beach aficionado said the significance of the name of his photography business, JLupoWolf, is connected to the moon. “Lupo, translated from Italian to English, means wolf, which I guess brings another aspect into my photography because if you look at my collection, you’ll see like the wolf, I am very drawn to the moon,” he said.

Lupo posts his latest gems daily on Facebook page: The Better Friends of Rockaway Beach. With his trusty Nikon Coolpix P90 digital camera, whether it’s in blazing sun or a winter blizzard, day or night, Lupo says that in one session, he easily takes 300 photographs, and then meticulously goes through each to find the keepers, which he loves sharing with his fellow beach enthusiasts.

Lupo said he finally mustered up the courage to officially exhibit his work when a finalist at The Rockaway Times Photo Contest, of which he was one of the appointed judges, encouraged him to showcase at The Rockaway Artists Alliance’s ArtSplash 2018. “I never thought that I was at that level, but I took the chance, auditioned and I was able to exhibit two of my photos. What an amazing experience! I got to meet other artists, who told me about the upcoming local holiday markets, where I could actually sell my work. I had no idea how to even price my photos. To me they are priceless, but I never thought to even try to sell them,” Lupo said.

Lupo’s first market was at Community House (CH), and he did so well that he was happily overwhelmed. He then went on to participate in eight other markets, with the grand finale of the season being at CH. “It all came full circle. CH was where I started and where I got to not just end a terrific season, but then I was blessed with an unexpected offer,” he exclaimed.

CH’s manager Deirdre Galvin Sorocki loved his work so much, she introduced Lupo to the owner Kelley Brooke, who not just bought some pieces, but invited him to do his own one-man exhibit.

“I was blown away,” Lupo said. All of my photographs from 2018 — Sunsets and Sunrises, the Jetty Collection, Merlot Mornings, poignant photos showing Rockaway’s increasing beach erosion and a special one from 2019 will not just be on display, but up for sale at really affordable prices.

Sorocki couldn’t be happier. “Joe’s art represents the quintessential beauty of our beaches, and as a community business, we are so proud to support an amazing local artist like Joe. We welcome everyone to come and enjoy his stunning photos,” she said.

To kickoff Lupo’s one-man photo exhibit, on Sunday, January 20 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., Community House (located at 101-19 Rockaway Beach Blvd.) is hosting a special bottomless brunch menu along with two-for-one brunch cocktails. Lupo’s exhibit will be on display through the end of February.

“I just want people to come and appreciate the beauty of our Rockaway Beach,” Lupo said.