Photo by Jake West/New Jersey Herald - Chuck Zuretti judges entries in the 2019 Xpose Regional Juried Photography Exhibit at the Sussex County Arts and Heritage Council in Newton.

By Lori Comstock New Jersey Herald

Posted: Mar. 11, 2019 12:01 am

NEWTON -- Chuck Zuretti's impressive photography career has taken him all over the world, including working alongside prominent fashion and celebrity photographer, Albert Watson, and assisting the royal family with their wedding photographs.

But whether it was photos of Prince Andrew, Duke of York, and his then-wife, Sarah Ferguson, prior to their 1986 wedding, or an oak tree covered in snow in the backyard of his Warwick, N.Y. home, Zuretti firmly believes that beautiful photography can be taken anywhere.

"I'm a kid from Bergen County; I don't come from the big city. I studied and worked all over the world, but don't feel like you can't go anywhere from here," Zuretti said.

Zuretti's years of experience were employed Thursday afternoon when he was called upon for the second time to judge the Sussex County Arts and Heritage Council's fourth annual Xpose Regional Juried Photography Exhibition, which invited amateur and professional photographers 18 years and older to submit photos in six categories: landscape, cityscape/architecture, fauna/floral, people/pets, still life, and pictorial/abstract/digital art.

This year's contest brought in nearly 200 submissions, and before Zuretti chose his top two in each category and an overall winner on Thursday -- a grueling process that Zuretti didn't take lightly, he said -- he had to sit down at a computer and narrow the field to about 60.

And while he had viewed the images on a computer screen, it was more important for him to see the images in-person -- whether to see its size or to see its framing, the latter of which is a basic notion that could turn a great picture into something not so spectacular, he noted.

"There was this photo of an old window in a stone building -- on the computer it was OK but when I walked into the gallery and saw this 16-by-20-inch print, there was something quite beautiful about it," Zuretti said.

After walking through the gallery several times on Thursday, making several marks on a tally sheet, Zuretti picked his top two in each category and an overall winner -- selections that will be kept secret until an opening ceremony on Saturday, March 16.

Cash prizes will be awarded for category and second place winners with best in show capturing a $300.

Taking into consideration what image impacted his eye the most, Zuretti said those photos that stand out the most show "originality."

"It's obvious, the quality of the image, how it's handled, but there are images that, once you look at them, they have something quite beautiful about them," he said.

Zuretti, who served as an adjunct professor of photography at Sussex County Community College from 2008 to 2012, urges local photographers to embrace Sussex County, to go out with a camera, walk through the woods and take photos of the landscape or an old, abandoned building.

"People from the city can't travel, they just have what is there, but in Sussex County, so many think they are in an area where they can't pursue their dreams, but that's not true," he said. "There is tremendous ability here, I saw that in the images I viewed."

A 1974 graduate of Rochester Institute of Technology, Zuretti opened his own photography studio in New York City before traveling to London to open a studio there.

After working with numerous photographers -- his career propelled him to a position working with renowned photographer, Art Kane -- Zuretti's final "big" shoot was in 1992 before he took a job working as a union electrician.

While he doesn't photograph for a living anymore, he hasn't entirely put down the camera.

He keeps a point and shoot camera in his car at all times, and while he snaps photos that draw him in, a certain fuzzy oak tree, located in a grassy field off Route 94, has turned into a "series" for him.

Whether it is 5 a.m., 6 p.m., snowing or foggy, Zuretti has captured the tree under various conditions over the years and may even consider submitting his images to the Sussex County Arts and Heritage Council's Skylands Juried Art Exhibit, a multi-media exhibit that opens in May.

And for those who don't win at this year's Xpose exhibit, Zuretti said he is never one to insult a photographer on what they did wrong, but rather, give "artistic criticism" and is looking forward to speaking to photographers at a free discussion on Saturday, March 23, at noon. All are welcome to attend.

The opening ceremony, where awards will be presented, will be held 5 to 7 p.m. Saturday, March 16, at the Sussex County Arts and Heritage Council's gallery, located at 133 Spring St. in Newton. Wine and hors d'oeuvres will be served.

Advanced tickets for $15 per person, with exhibiting artists and children under 10 free, can be purchased at the council's Newton office or can be purchased at

Tickets will be available for purchase at the door for $20.

All accepted works will be on display at the council's gallery Tuesdays through Fridays, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Saturdays from noon to 4 p.m., with additional times by appointment, until April 11.

For more information, call the council at 973-383-0027.

Lori Comstock can also be reached on Twitter: @LoriComstockNJH, on Facebook: or by phone: 973-383-1194.

                                                                                                                      © Sussex County Arts & Heritage Council     phone: 973 383 0027    133 Spring Street,Newton NJ 07860

Sussex County Arts & Heritage Council is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization

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