Regular readers here already know Pam Hardy. She's a regular contributor to the POE blog, and she's also a very enthusiastic supporter of all the members of the Photographers of Etsy. It seems natural to want to get to know Pam better, especially because she lives in very wintery Alberta, Canada, and has a beautiful tropical bird, a sun conure named Jessie, who is the subject of many of Pam's photographs in her Etsy shop. Our talk started with Pam's intense relationship with animals....
Ann Wilkinson: You show a lot of artistic sides of yourself, in your shop, your website, but what immediately strikes me is your incredible love for animals. Tell us about your relationship with them and what inspires you to use them as your photographic subjects.
Pam Hardy: My love of animals started at 9 or 10 years old when we received a Burmese kitten as a gift. I had severe allergies, so I hadn't had animals before. We gave her a bath every week, and she didn't bother my allergies -- I just loved her. But the apartment where we were living decided on a no-pet policy, and we had to find another home for her. I tried adopting more kittens after her, but my allergies just couldn't handle them, and I couldn't tolerate other animals either. Then when I was 14 I bought my first budgie, and then got more budgies and finches until I had 13 birds! I was hooked, but it was all too much for me. I had to find homes for all of them, but I was a bird lover by this time. My mom suggested a Sun Conure. Well, looking at their beauty, I was hooked.
After a year of researching parrots, in the summer of 2001 I welcomed my bird, a male Sun Conure named Jessie James, into my home.
AW: Jessie James is a beautiful bird. Tell us about him (I've never had a bird as a pet), and how do you get him to pose for your photos?
PH: I have always loved cameras and taking pictures, so when Jessie came he was like my baby. Parrots live a long time, and since he was only a few months old, I wanted to remember his baby days, so I started taking "portraits" and I started a scrapbook for him.
I used fabric as backdrops, and I used props. And I just said, "Smile," talking to him softly so he wouldn't get scared, and he never minded the camera. Now, almost 8 years later, I just tell him to smile, and he poses most of the time. Jessie is extremely tame, and he is my best friend -- I love him so much.
AW: That's a great story, Pam. It's so cool how Jessie loves working with the camera. The image of him being showered with water is really great. How did you do that one in particular?
PH: I had Jessie on my arm, and as I was giving him his shower, I kept setting the timer on my camera over and over -- it was sitting on a tripod.
AW: How did you get into photography?
PH: I had very cheap cameras as a kid. When I was 19 I bought my first expensive camera, a 35mm film camera, and fell in love. A few years later I saved up and bought a digital camera, and last year I got my DSLR! I just love taking pictures and experimenting with different ideas. I also love editing images and experimenting with digital art using my photography.
AW: Can you describe a perfect day with your camera?
PH: It's usually a day off from work, spring weather, and a long walk taking pictures. I had a lot of fun at the greenhouses I visited last spring, and I took a few trips to the lakes and rivers around here. I also had a lot of fun when I got lost on a trail and had to walk 12 kilometers!
Pam's "lost" adventure
AW: Well, you got some great photos from your adventure. So, does photography have any relationship with your "day job"?
PH: No, unfortunately it doesn't. I work in a retail store.
AW: Pam, you mention you do web design and graphic design as a hobby. Obviously, you've got a lot of talent in that area, from your website, blog, and the like. Do you ever see this as a career option for yourself?
PH: Thank you! I design and maintain my own websites as well as a few others, and I help out with some blogs. I love to design them, but I haven't taken any courses on the subject. I just play around until I learn how to do what I want to do. I don't think I would do it as a career; it's more of a hobby for me. I started getting interested in designing websites after running Yahoo groups. My first website was one I created about 7 years ago about my bird, Jessie. It was very basic at first. Since then I've had a lot of fun creating other sites. I also love to create digital art, edit videos, create slideshows and much more.
AW: Yes, there's always a risk of no longer loving what you do if it moves from a hobby to a job! Tell us a bit more about the digital art you create. What program(s) do you use?
PH: I just love to take the pictures from my camera and turn them into bits of art! I use Microsoft Paint to edit around the edges in fine detail, and I also use a variety of other programs such as Paint Shop Pro Photo XI, which I absolutely love. I also have Kodak Easy Share and Ulead Photo Impact 11.
One of my favorite pieces of art is "Jessie & Lilies". For this one I edited a photo of Jessie and edited a different picture of some lilies, plus I edited a third picture of the sky using Microsoft Paint. I put them together and tweaked it a bit. Then I used Kodak Easy Share to turn it into a cartoon.
Thank you Pam!
A world traveler and self-taught photographer, look for Ann wandering around city streets and tromping through woods and hiking trails with her camera. After owning an international transportation business for many years, Ann has found her creative spirit again through the lens. See more at Ann's shop and her website.