Yesterday we launched the first eBook for RAW aimed at beginners. I’m pleased to say that it has been selling quite well and i’m looking forward to seeing some of your results in the forums over the next few weeks. Today’s interviewee is another for those that like to delve into the conceptual side of the art form. I’d love to know your thoughts on conceptual photography, have you tried it? Comment below.
Tell us a little about yourself?
I am a California native, although almost everyone I meet tells me they think I’m from somewhere else. I’ve always been creative and artistic and I’m very lucky that my mother really encouraged that in me growing up. I’ve at least dabbled in most areas of creativity and I also truly love painting, writing, and jewelry and costume creation, the last two of which also serve an extra function of being useful for photography.
What made you get into photography?
I got into photography through frustration. At that time I was doing a lot of modeling for other photographers. I had lots of ideas which I was sure would make great photos, but other photographers were rarely interested in them. Finally, I just decided to start taking these photos myself, using myself as a model too. It was purely for the sake of fulfilling the artistic vision I had, wanting to express these concepts, even if it was just to myself.
How did you get started?
I began shooting with my digital camera and the 10-second timer. I figured out a lot of what I needed to know by trial and error, and yes, I had to throw out many of my first attempts, but I also eventually got the photos I wanted. I pinned down my husband (photographer Geoff Ashley) and made him teach me the basics of camera settings; speed, aperture, ISO. I had a vision of what I wanted to create and I didn’t let any lack of experience, budget, or equipment stop me.
What sort of photography do you mainly do?
I do conceptual, fine art photography, about half self portraits and half portraits of other people. I want my work to be visual poetry, something that tells a story and conveys real emotions. The world these character live in is not quite our world, but it is close enough to have an effect on our world.
What gear are you using?
I just upgraded my camera to a Nikon D5100, which I love!
Whats your favourite lens and why?
My Nikkor 50 mm 1.8 lens. I just love how 50 mm looks, and I really enjoy the freedom I have in such a wide range of aperture settings.
How are you marketing yourself?
Social media is a great tool; and completely free to use! I also love art and photography sites like Flickr, 500 px and Blue Canvas. Being able to connect with other artists and art lovers is, I believe, key.
Whats your favourite photo you have taken?
Right now, my favorite photo is Where Dreams And Shadows Lie. I’ve always loved horses but don’t have many opportunities to be around them. When I discovered a good friend of mine has a horse, and moreover, would happily volunteer him for photography work, I was thrilled. We had to get up very early that day to catch the dawn light, and I nearly slid of the horses’ back several times trying to maintain my pose, but the whole experience was just completely beautiful and magical.
What post processing tools do you use?
I use Photoshop; an extremely old version. Its old enough that I often have to adjust, or simply abandon the instructions altogether. But I manage to get by with my somewhat antique version 🙂
How did you shoot and edit this photo?
For The Weakest Particle Of All, I started with the raw photo of my model holding a balled-up piece of white fabric in her hands. After doing basic editing (adjusting curves and contrast, blemish and distraction removal) I used the curves adjustment to give the photo a more blue-purple tone. Since it was taken at sunset, it already had those tones in it, I just enhanced them.
The biggest challenge was obviously to turn the plain white fabric into a glowing orb. I did this by creating several different layers of the fabric itself, giving it a gausian blur to remove the folds in the fabric. For one layer, I brightened it considerably and turned the blending mode to screen. The next layer, I left in a normal blending mode but used the blending options to give it both an outer and inner glow. Then I used the eraser brush on a soft, light setting to gradually erase the bits of orb where the models’ fingers are, which gave a realistic glowing effect. I also did some subtle dodging on the model’s face and hair to give the effect that light from the orb was hitting it. After that, I added a subtle texture layer, set to soft light, and I was done!
Advice for new photographers looking to go pro?
Create what moves you. Create what longs to burst forth from your soul. Don’t give up. Keep creating work you’re proud of and that satisfies you, even if you and your cat are the only creatures who are seeing it right now. A healthy dose of positive thinking will go a long way too.