Web site fans come to photographer's rescue

Posted: Tuesday, January 23, 2001

Local photographer Pat Costello has new camera gear and a renewed commitment to his popular Web site, Cool Juneau Photos, after receiving about 100 donations to help replace broken equipment.

Most of the checks - ranging from $10 to $100 - came from fans across the United States, with a few contributions from Canada and Australia.

"I was looking for an excuse to quit but they didn't give me any," said Costello, whose Web site can be found at www.juneauphotos.com.

During a photo shoot on Dec. 12, Costello slipped on ice and about $4,000 worth of gear was destroyed in the ensuing tumble.

He delivered the bad news via his Web site while wondering whether to shut down Cool Juneau Photos. Supporters came to the rescue, urging him to continue and sending money.

"This Christmas was real heartwarming," said his wife, Julie. "It's humbling to have something good come out of something awful. People have inspired Pat to keep the Web site going."

His first new photo in more than a month appeared last week, a shot of rain falling along Franklin Street.

Costello, who works for the state, has invested about $20,000 in his site over the past four years. Despite the hundreds of positive comments in his Internet guestbook, he bristles at the few that are critical.

"Hey Pat and all you gullible morons out there, get a life," wrote someone who called himself Mike of Smalltown, Alaska, on Jan. 15. "Support your own hobby."

Costello insists Cool Juneau Photos is not a hobby, it's a business. He estimates he spends about 30 hours a week while posting a new photo every other day on his free site. Costello offsets his expenses by selling prints from the inventory of photos he posts.

To thank his contributors - who donated almost $3,000 as of Sunday - Costello is listing them as sponsors on his featured photos.

"I want to acknowledge those folks who sent money in a public way," he said.

Mike Sica can be reached at msica@juneauempire.com.

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