Alumni O’Dell shares artistic work, lessons

Dale O’Dell, Sam Houston State University alumni, digital artist, photographer and paranormal researcher, is a self-made man.

O’Dell received a Bachelors of Science degree in Photography in 1982.

“Sam Houston State has the best photography program in Texas and that’s why I went there,” O’Dell said.

Dale said his photographic education prepared him for the photographic aspects of his career; but, like most graduating college students he had a tough time at first.

“I didn’t learn about business, my fault for not taking those classes in school, and I was quite unprepared for the ‘non-standard’ aspect of the business of art,” O’Dell said.

After graduating, O’Dell worked as a corporate photographer, optical effects technician, computer artist, teacher and a photographer’s assistant. After facing many obstacles in the workforce, he soon learned his ‘place in the business food-chain.’

“With all the ‘real’ jobs I had, the usual big challenge was how to satisfy the client, or boss, while still satisfying my creative needs,” O’Dell said.

O’Dell found teaching to be the most rewarding job. He still hears from ex-students who are successful artists today.

“I could have remained teaching but that didn’t work out for me either, I was fired as a photographic arts teacher for being too creative”. O’Dell said.

“After four jobs in four years I realized that if I was going to ‘make it’ as an artist, commercial or a fine-artist, I’d have to go it alone, and work as an independent, freelance artist,” O’Dell said. He opened his own studio in 1986.

O’Dell said, “Self-employment for me was completely unplanned and unexpected and the ONLY way to be creative and have any hopes of being a ‘working artist.'”

Dale O’Dell’s artwork has been exhibited in over one-hundred group and solo exhibitions. His commercial works are published internationally.

Mostly collectors buy his work through galleries. “I am with a half-dozen art galleries in the U.S., one in Italy, four on-line galleries,” O’Dell said. “and, for commercial clients, my imagery can be licensed from 12 different stock-photo agencies around the world.”

Some of his art can be purchased and viewed at

O’Dell is also the author of six books; Photographic Memories: A look at life through the lens, Human/Nature, The Surreal Landscape: Woodlands, Flying Saucer Safari, Paranormal Pajama Party, 35/50: A 35-year Retrospective. His seventh book, The Surreal Landscape: Desert, is due out in mid-2010.

Dr. Emmette Jackson, O’Dell’s former photography professor, said, “I always believed that Dale would be a real success story because he was so dedicated to being able to create superior photographic work. I have followed his career since he left SHSU, and I’m very proud to say that he has proven my initial thoughts right.”

O’Dell entered paranormal work in 2002 when he pitched an idea for a calendar of hoaxed UFO photos to a number of calendar publishers.

One publisher went for it, and in 2004 the publication of ‘UFO Calendar’ was released, which did very well. This led him in to more involvement in’paranormal illustrations.’

O’Dell has done book cover illustrations, photo-analysis and made crop circles for The Discovery Channel, posters, web graphics, and DVD packaging for the annual International UFO Congress. He has also been called “The World’s Foremost Photographer of the Paranormal,” and a “UFO Expert.” He has also participated in expeditions to search for Bigfoot, Ghost Hunts and surveillance of UFO hot-spots.

Through all of his experiences during his career the most memorable aspect of it all was being self-employed.

“All of the success is mine, as are the failures; I’ve never ‘sold out,’ compromised, or done anything ‘just for the money.'” O’Dell said.

“I’ve maintained an honest, ethical, creative, lifestyle, provided for myself and family and I enjoy my work and feel I’ve made a positive, artistic contribution to the world.

“Everything I have is a result of my ability to make photographic art. That’s what’s special for me. I really did do what I set out to do.”

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