This picture from September 1994 shows professional photographer, Vince Lupo, and his father at Tybee Island, GA. Just one month before, Vince had moved from Toronto, Ontario, in Canada to attend graduate school at the Savannah College of Art and Design. “It was a pretty stressful move for me,” he says, “moving to a new country, a new school, new teachers, new students, and living on my own for the first time in my life – and at age 28.” His father had been a bit hesitant to support Vince’s grad school venture, but an influential undergrad teacher had written an encouraging letter of support, and this photo pretty much sums up his dad’s eventual embrace of Vince’s new life in the US, particularly in Savannah. “He loved the area, the town, the people,” says Vince, “and, as you can see, the beach.”
Vince had been awarded a Presidential Scholarship to attend the Savannah College of Art and Design (“How could I refuse?” he deadpans) and, after he graduated with an MFA degree in Still Photography Studies, he found that he didn’t want to go back to Canada. “I had this taste of ‘freedom’ and didn’t want to squander it by going back home, so I applied for an ‘Optional Practical Training’ through my student visa.” This option is a one-year work permit for foreign graduating students. Through that, he got a job in Annapolis, MD, and ended up building his own business as a commercial photographer and owner of Direction One, Inc., a commercial photography firm.
This next photograph shows Vince and his American-born wife in New Mexico. Vince remains a Canadian citizen but, through his marriage to an American, he has a Green Card. It was quite a process to get, he says – a mound of supporting paperwork, a lawyer, a fair amount of money, various medical exams, background checks, fingerprinting, letters of support from neighbors and friends, interviews – but it was entirely worth it. The interview process to verify the veracity of Vince’s marriage turned out to be pretty funny. “Our lawyer first conducted a ‘mock’ interview to prepare us for what we might encounter,” says Vince. “He asked questions like ‘Mr. Lupo, can you tell me how many steps there are up to the front door of your house?’ ‘Can you tell me if your wife has any brothers or sisters?’ ‘What are their names?’ ‘Where do they live?’ ‘What does your wife keep on her bedside table?’” When it came time for the actual interview, Vince, his wife, and their lawyer went to the Fallon building in downtown Baltimore, and they were called into a small office, where the interviewer sat behind her desk. Her first question to the couple was, “How did you two meet?” “So my wife started to tell the story,” says Vince, “then I broke in to correct her about some detail, then she corrected me about another detail. After about two minutes of this, the interviewer stopped the interview and said ‘Okay, you guys are married, you pass.’” The best part of immigrating to America, Vince says, is that he has a wonderful marriage.
The most difficult part is to maintain his ‘life’ down here and to maintain his ‘life’ in Canada. Sometimes, the pull to spend more time in Canada with his family can be a bit tricky when he also has to keep up his family life down here. He misses being closer to his Canadian relatives and his familiar surroundings – even though the city of Toronto has changed quite a bit since 1994. He also finds that not being with his fellow Canadians (“my people!”) can be a bit of a challenge, even though he is quick to add that Americans are okay too. So, although home for Vince is currently just south of Baltimore, MD, he and his wife have just bought a piece of property near Ottawa, Ontario – so home could possibly change in the coming years.