James Felice is a bug for insect photography


An augochlora sweat bee photographed by Felice in the Shawangunks.

James Felice looks for subjects.

What’s your passion? James Felice of the Felice Brothers has one that maybe transcends of his love of making music. Art, you guess? Poetry? Artisanal soapmaking?

Nay. Felice’s passion is bugs and photographing them.

Felice said he has not always been an insect aficionado. Unlike most wildlife lovers who spend hours, days and years observing the objects of their interest, Felice really didn’t even like bugs until recently. “As an adult, bugs always bothered me… they were a nuisance,” he recalls. “One day, I was bitching about it to an ex-girlfriend, and she encouraged me to get into it, as they are around us, they are part of our lives. I started looking more closely at them, and she was right.  There is a whole world there, they are so fascinating and beautiful.”


Felice, who grew up in the Shawangunk Mountains, has an apt and prolific summery for the cycle of seasons with which we are blessed here in the Mid-Hudson Valley: “Winter and bugs.”

So Felice started paying closer attention to them. And closer. And closer still. As an established musician, Felice travels all over the world and says one of the highlights is getting to check out cool bugs residing in that area. He said the majority of the insects he photographs are not known to him; he’s been identifying them with field guides or online.

“I’m not interested in moving them, harm them, or messing with their day,” said Felice. “I just want to be a gigantic ape with a camera.”

Felice said his intrigue is piqued by the multiple systems occurring within one small grassy patch. “How the cicadas are living out of the same matter we are, and have a totally different experience,” said Felice. “Even a potato has an experience, right? There is something that it is to be a bee.”

Native bees, as a matter of fact, happen to be Felice’s favorite buzz. Like a typical hobbyist, he cannot take himself off-topic. “I love native bees — bees that evolved on continent of North America — not colony bees, not the kind producing honey — the native bees that live solo. So beautiful; bright green, tiny little black ones. Bumblebees and carpenter bees … ”

Felice most enjoys capturing beetles, thanks to their hypnotic iridescent shells. He said he most recently had the pleasure of shooting a rainbow beetle in Germany.

Felice is using a iPhone7 with a special macro lens. “Once you turn your mind onto that world you will see countless varieties,” he said. “True with plants as well. If you actually walk through the woods, there are tons of different bushes, trees, flowers. All this biodiversity, especially in this area. I appreciate and experience what a special place we live in.”

In this Felice photo, a millipede curls up on a stump.