My view (pun intended!) of photography and its role in my life have grown and changed over the years. When I think about why I pursue photography, I realize that the camera helps me to see the world around me, to notice details I would otherwise miss, to watch for the play of light and shadow, and to find the essence of a place, or person, or event. When you have one tiny rectangle to show what a place, person, or event means to you, you have to be very selective.
I started “taking pictures” with an Instamatic camera when I was about ten years old, but my interest in receiving and making images began many years later when a close friend put a 35mm SLR film camera in my hands. (I reluctantly gave up film and transitioned to a digital camera in 2006.) I studied photography with master photographers and participated in camera clubs for several years. My dream (ambition) was to become a world-renowned travel photographer who exhibited her work in fine art galleries and well-respected print publications. It was very important to me that others like my work and appreciate my gifts.
By 2008, after disappointing camera club competitions and portfolio reviews, I realized that for me photography is not about competition, earning an income, gallery exhibits, and impressing other photographers. What photography is about is paying attention, giving praise to the Creator, documenting my travels, pleasing myself, and creating gifts of cards and calendars. I have had the good fortune to travel for work (in engineering education) to more than twenty countries on every continent except Antarctica. In the last two years, most of my work-related travel has been to Chile and Colombia. My camera is usually the first thing that I pack. Now, my image making extends to a class, called Photography as a Spiritual Practice, which I lead at my church.
In the early years, I concentrated on landscapes, flowers, reflections, patterns, and shapes. Now, I am more enthusiastic about photographs of people in their natural environments. Approaching people was, and still is, difficult for me. I want to respect people’s privacy, and, at the same time, persuade them that I want to show them in their best light. I prefer to make personal contacts through my camera, although there are times when I photograph people who are unaware that I am watching them. When I photograph events and liturgies at church, I am especially aware of people’s privacy in their moments of prayer and worship. When I look at the portraits in my collection I find that there is a lot of warmth and humor in the portraits. I respond with a sense that I like these people and that others will like them, even if they don’t know them. The images show people as very likable. (The portraits in this blog were made in public places. To protect people’s privacy, I will not post portraits made in private settings.)
I realize that every photograph in my collection reveals something about me, as well. What is the message in my images? What do I think the images say about me? For the most part, my Viewpoints (the name on my cards and calendars) reflect fresh perspectives of familiar places, reflective spaces, sweet moments, peaceful moments, subtle humor, simple pleasures and joys, and being at home all over the globe. I want to suggest to the viewer a sense of “Yes, I’ve been there. I know that. This is familiar. I like that. I have good memories of . . .”
One of the criticisms of my work in an early portfolio review was that my photographs had no “edge” and that they were only “pretty pictures, like postcards.” That day, I heard the remark as a discouraging criticism. Now, I take that comment as an encouraging compliment!