Nearly every week or so I receive email inquiries from art students who are working on various papers and projects for school and have stumbled upon my web site or blog as a resource. Just this morning I received an email with a series of very good questions from a “year 13” art student by the name of Shelby, from somewhere in the U.K. Shelby’s project has to do with form and texture in photography. I’m honored that she chose me as one of her resources in her research for this project. Below is are her questions, each followed by my answer.
Hi Shelby –
Thank you for noticing my photography and considering me as a resource for your school project on pattern and texture photography.
To answer your questions –
Where did you go to school and did you carry on any kind of education after school?
I am a graduate of the University of Dayton where I earned a Bachelor of Arts in Communication Management.
I also attended the graduate program of studies at Westminster College of Salt Lake City where I earned a Master of Arts in Professional Communication. Part of the required course study in that program was visual design and digital image editing.
In the summer of 2000 I completed the 10-day course of study on Professional Nature Photography at the Rocky Mountain School of Photography in Missoula, Montana.
I’ve also completed a number of one-day workshops and seminars provided by the North American Nature Photography Association, Professional Photographers of America and Professional Photographers of Ohio, including the course of study and examination for the designation of Certified Professional Photographer.
Have you had any exhibitions in galleries, and if so what galleries were they in?
Regional Print Competition, Awards of Achievement, 2009 and 2010, Professional Photographers of Ohio Convention
Color Restrained, Visceral Gallery, Centerville, Ohio, 2009 and 2010
Award of Merit, The View 2004 – All-Ohio Juried Landscape Competition, Rosewood Gallery, Kettering, Ohio
Award of Merit, The View 2003, All-Ohio Juried Landscape Competition, Rosewood Gallery, Kettering, Ohio
Honestly I prefer to stay away from local galleries in the Dayton, Ohio area. In a smaller market such as Dayton there are far too many what I would call “art gatekeepers” who tend to judge the artist before they even see his or her work. It’s a shame because it’s their loss.
How did you get where you are today, are you employed, self employed, with a company?
My journey through life has taken me down a number of different paths, some that went in the complete opposite direction than the one I’m currently on. I’ve held a number of different corporate type positions, in Ohio then South Carolina out to Utah and then back to Ohio. Job responsibilities included human resource management, marketing and public relations type. Each one of those work experiences proved beneficial in forming my understanding and respect for customer communications and relations, business organization and accountability.
I got where I am today partly due to my strong desire to follow my true talents in photography and teaching. In all of those past jobs there was always something down deep inside me, nagging my conscious that I wasn’t pursuing what it is I was meant to do and making full use of my talents. I also got to where I am today because of those within my family who knew that about me, even before I was fully aware of it, and provided the support and encouragement that I needed to move past occasional obstacles and stay on target in pursuit of what it was that I truly loved to do.
I was also very fortunate to have a number of positive influences in my early years – adults who recognized my love of nature and art. They reached-out and exposed me to some wonderful early experiences with nature photography.
Self-employed owner of Picture Ohio, LLC.
What inspired you to take the Texture and Pattern photographs, was there any particular meaning behind them?
The amazing visual discoveries that is nature’s design, often found in the smallest details. The human appreciation for art is inherent to the natural origins of all living things. Even that which is considered “man-made” replicates natural design.
I enjoy the challenge of visually communicating the additional dimension of depth in the two-dimensional art form of still photography. Using a balanced combination of technical skill, creative vision and sensitivity to the impact of unique light is my approach when confronting that challenge.
The meaning behind the resulting photographs is the creative spirit that moves me as an artist and storyteller – the strong desire to share with others what it is that I find to be beautiful in the simple and often overlooked.
Were there any particular method behind them for instance- materials or process?
It depends on the subject, setting and lighting situation. Oftentimes I will use a very limited depth of field to emphasize a particular subject or part of subject. Positioning myself and camera to the point where both light direction and shadow work together to enhance texture and form is often the most basic technique. Muted, soft-colored backgrounds are easily achieved with wide aperture settings in camera. Many times longer exposures are required to maintain image file quality and detail when photographing in very low light situations. There are some digital post-shoot techniques that I favor including enhanced contrast, saturation and definition, or “sharpening.” I’ve been using a Photoshop tool/plug-in for local contrast enhancement on many of my macro nature photographs. I prefer to keep that one a “trade secret.”
Over the last three years I’ve been doing a great deal of work with High Dynamic Range photography – combing two or more exposures – each at different settings – of the same scene. Here I am able to achieve a far greater tonal range than what is normally achieved with the single exposure. But I’m very careful in how I apply this tonal adjustment, preferring gradual application so as to maintain realism within the photograph. Where this technique truly shines is when I do monochrome conversions. The greater tonal range of HDR often results in fine art black and white photography that comes closest to the old masters and the craft of dodging and burning by hand.
How do you organize a project?
I have definite digital workflow process that includes archival storage of all original raw files, importing images to a image management program (I prefer Apple Aperture), initial edits, adjustments in other programs, file naming and metadata and preparing image files for optimal output quality for both print and web publishing.
My pre-shoot workflow process includes research of locations and a somewhat educated, experienced guess at weather and light conditions. Experience and knowing the subject goes a long, long way.
Photo essays, self-published books and print exhibitions are often planned months in advance. Being the typical artist I have a number of these projects that are “in-process.” Usually when I enter a slow period – due to a drop-off in commercial assignment work – I pick-up on these projects and finally work to completion.
Hope this helps with your project Shelby. Best of luck.
Sycamore on Autumn Equinox by Jim Crotty by Jim Crotty