Jeff Fasano ’80 chose passion over an uninspiring career. He was rewarded with his dream job, photographing musicians and actors.
By Kris Dreessen
For 18 years, Jeff Fasano ’80 worked a corporate job organizing container ships carrying goods for import and export. Ultimately, it was disappointing to spend his days in New York City, poring over operations in an office.
He wasn’t happy in life.
“I was 33. I left my job one day, went home and I took out a yellow legal pad and wrote at the top, ‘What do I want be when I grow up?’” he says. “I spent all night on that list. When I wrote ‘photography,’ because I loved it, it hit my soul.”
An avid photographer in his free time, Fasano went back to school at Parsons School of Design, where he found a mentor, photojournalist Mario Cabrera,and studied the craft of photography. Fasano learned all he could — and “experimented and practiced and practiced some more” — in the next years, with a dream to be a professional photographer.
He landed gigs with RCA Records, photographing artists including James Galway, a celebrated classical flute player. He built his skills, eye for light and composition, his contacts and a portfolio.
At 40, he left office life to create photos full time.
“It was a slow process, but I never doubted it was my calling,” says Fasano. “It was simple and oh-so-clear. I could feel it in my bones.”
Fasano is now based in Nashville and has a long list of clients and published work, including the Bonnaroo Music Festival, Rolling Stone and The New York Times. His portraits of Sheryl Crow and Vince Gill appeared on the cover of Guitar Aficionado magazine.
One of Fasano’s big starts came with a photo session with actor Terrence Howard, who had just filmed “Hustle and Flow.” Impressed with his portraits, Howard told Fasano Hollywood needed him and connected him with others.
Fasano’s long list of actor, celebrity and musician clients includes Kevin Bacon, Quincy Jones, Jewel, Kris Kristofferson and Darius Rucker. Last October, he met the band 10,000 Maniacs in Buffalo with band co-founder John Lombardo ’74 to create their most recent promotional shots.
Fasano credits his success with his ability to capture the true character of his subjects. The changes and challenges he meets on shoots have taught him something important in his business — and life.
“Go with the flow. It’s really about being open and getting out of the way and being in the moment,” says Fasano, “and let life take care of itself.”
He’s also asked many of his clients how they got to the top of their field. Most have told him, “What else would I do? I love this with all my heart, and I know what makes me unique.”
Last fall, Fasano conducted GOLD workshops on campus with Geneseo students on embracing passion, discovering their own uniqueness and knowing what they can contribute. He’s also published a book, “Journey of the Awakened Heart,” which he hopes can serve as an inspiration to others. He will be publishing his first photography book, “Americana Portrait Sessions” in 2020.
Photography has filled his heart and created a life he now loves, every day.
“When you connect with something that deeply,” says Fasano, “it’s a doorway to so much more in your life.”