Larry Gioia

LARRY GIOIA :: @LGin412 :: @dynamicpaddlers

Not unlike his fellow Pittsburghers, Larry has a strong affinity for his city. It’s here that he shares his interest and energy for building community, exploring off-the-beaten path places (often in his kayak!), and doing his part to ‘connect the dots’ in the ever-changing Pittsburgh entrepreneurial ecosystem. At his core, Larry is a connector and community builder.

Larry is a native Pittsburgher but went away for a few years to attend Gannon University in Erie, PA. The gravitational pull to the Steel City was strong and he returned to attend graduate school at Carnegie Mellon where he graduated in 2005 with his Masters of Information Systems Management. Larry’s professional and personal interests are broad and deep – he’s currently a technology executive at PwC where he serves as an advisor to Fortune 1000 healthcare companies. He’s also a serial entrepreneur and has founded numerous tech and community-driven service organizations – most notably of which is Dynamic Paddlers – a concierge kayaking school for youth and adults of all abilities.

When not huddled behind the glow of his laptop or smartphone, it’s a safe bet you can find Larry in the outdoors, engaging in a Pittsburgh community event, tinkering in his garage (read gearage), creating something with his hands, and/or taking photos on his smartphone!

Larry currently resides in Shadyside with his wife Maria, their son, Luca, and their rescue pup, Bruna.

As a technologist, a traveler, a tinkerer, an explorer, and a lover of the outdoors, Larry has always had a keen interest and curiosity for digital photography to capture his experiences in the outdoors. His very first digital camera was a “boat-of-a-camera” made by Sony that took a 3.5″ floppy disc for storing 1.3MP photos. Larry was amazed. He has since moved on and now owns a modern DSLR, but a vast majority of his photos are taken using his iPhone.  Larry has never had any formal training in digital photography, but it’s on his list!

Larry taught himself the Adobe Creative suite at a very young age – while he still uses it today, he finds that he can do the extent of his image processing and clean up using a few simple (paid and free) apps on his iPhone.

Larry has paddled many of the region’s rivers and surrounding lakes and has always been a bit of an explorer when it comes to getting his kayak into places that larger craft and people don’t typically venture. He will usually take a camera with him to capture anything interesting he finds along the way – at minimum, he always has his iPhone with him on the water – this happened to be one of the most memorable paddling experiences he has ever had.

It’s not uncommon for Southwestern Pennsylvania to experience heavy rains and flooding in low-lying areas in late winter/early spring. During the week of February 12th, 2018, Pittsburgh experienced such rains which resulted in the flooding at Point State Park and the major highways abutting the north and south shores of the Golden Triangle. There is a short stretch of I-376 West (Pittsburgh’s Parkway), commonly referred to by Pittsburgher’s as “The Bathtub,” that always bears the brunt of flooding when the Monongahela River spills over the concrete retaining walls and into the highway.

The highway was shut down, the traffic was diverted, and what remained was a 3-4+ feet deep 100-yard pool of perfectly calm paddleable water. Before the heavy machinery and pump trucks moved in to clean up the debris and mud left behind, there was only one thing Larry could think to do – wake up early and paddle the parkway (and document the experience with a few pictures along the way!)

Larry drives this stretch of highway often and it will forever have a special place for him when he is sitting stopped in the rush headed out of town. If anything, he will always have a great story to tell his friends and family for years to come!

“I am honestly a bit blown away by the popularity of this otherwise simple photo since it was originally shared on social media. As of today, the image has been shared over 10,000 times on Facebook and thousands more on Instagram. What’s even more astonishing is the outpouring of commentary, support, media attention, and inquiry to purchase the photo for personal collections.

Even more surprising is when I was notified that the photo was selected for the month of April! I am incredibly humbled at the opportunity to share my passion for photographing my favorite city from one of my favorite places – the seat of my kayak!”

Paddling on the the parkway was not something that Larry has been planning for a long time, but rather an early morning impromptu experience that resulted from being in the right place at the time, saying ‘YES!’ to adventure, and having  had any formal training in digital photography, but it’s on his list! Special thanks to his very good friends – Kit Mueller and Aaron Watson – for getting out of bed on a moments notice to join him.

“It takes a special kind of friend to take your call at 7:30AM on a Sunday morning and agree to meet you at the Mon Wharf in 30 minutes. Bring your cameras. I’ll explain when you get there. I’ll buy you breakfast for your time. – Thank you guys!”

Keep Calm and Paddle On