Last weekend, my fiancé and I had a photo shoot scheduled with our wedding photographers, who threw in a free engagement session after we hired them for our wedding. The reason I decided to go with these particular photographers is simple – they have passion for their art. Jess, my fiancé, and I met with a few photographers who gave us the prerequisite price sheet and went over their rote salesperson routine. In contrast, the photographers we decided to go with (a husband and wife team from Hazleton, Pa.), brought us into their studio and were so excited to talk about photography and show us projects they were working on that we lost track of time discussing their art and didn’t even get to pricing and “selling” their services until well over an hour into the meeting. I was sold long before that. Passion for art and creativity is something I hold in very high regard and we have so many talented artists right here in our area. From Margie Long up in Carbon County who cannot stop painting (her husband told me he finds her up in the middle of the night, brush in hand, working on whatever landscape or new concept struck her), to Charlie Applegate, a sculptor from Danielsville who first caught my attention with a life-sized Iron Man statue in his front yard, to James Benetzky, the photographer who shot the awesome cover image that adorns this very issue, we have dozens and dozens of artists of all stripes living in our midst. I think what separates the artistically inclined from more, might I say, pragmatic personalities, is that they don’t choose to be artists. It’s not a profession. Even if Margie never attended an art show with her paintings, I suspect she would still be at her home near Beltzville producing a prolific amount of work on her canvasses. If I didn’t make my living producing this publication, you can bet I would still be writing every day, if only for myself. In this regard, I don’t believe art is a profession or vocation—in my opinion, it’s nothing less than a wonderful affliction, one that there is no cure for. I hope you all enjoy this edition of the Gazette, as well as all of the artists (our photographers, writers, and Tony, our graphic designer), who work hard on getting it out to you every two weeks.