Isn't this blog just a feast for the eyes? There's a lot of talent in this group of photographers, and there's a vast treasure trove of inspiration from all the amazing work here.
Please meet Karen Casey Smith, who's had her shop on Etsy.com since 2007. Karen has a wonderfully unique way of seeing the world, and she adds to her vision and camera skills some fantastic post-editing techniques from Photoshop. We had a great chat and she took the time to impart some of her knowledge, as well as divulging a bit about herself. Definitely a multi-faceted artist, Karen not only wields many cameras with ease, she also plays the ukulele to relax!
Our talk unfolded while talking about creativity:
Ann: How do you spark your creativity?
Karen: Noticing what catches my attention and following where that leads me is good for my creativity. Other people's work can definitely inspire, though often in just going through my own images something will catch my attention and off I go! There's a kind of an alchemy in working. Ideas and connections occur to me while working that planning and thinking would never bring out.
A: And, what do you do if you ever get into a creative rut?
K: Learning something new nearly always gets my enthusiasm going. I just choose something or anything that interests me. It doesn't need to be about work, though often it is, because I love what I do. It may be something I've wanted to know how to do, or an area I've wanted to improve in, and then I just have to try it out myself. Also, if what I'm working is not flowing, or if I find I'm trying too hard, I put it aside and work on something else, or play my ukulele, or pet the cats, or...well, you get the picture.
A: I really like what you say "there's a kind of alchemy in working." What kind of work do you do?
K: When I was talking about working, I had in my mind my work as an artist and photographer. More specificially, I was thinking about the processes of editing, layering images, creating mandalas, or going out on a shoot. The alchemy occures when you take inspired action on your ideas.
My work is focused on fine-art photography, digital montage and mandalas. Occasionally I do some graphic design. One of my images is being used for the cover of an upcoming CD for The Goldens, an award-winning vocal duet from Texas. I'm open to opportunity!
A: You play the ukulele? That's cool! It's not usually considered a standard piece of musical equipment, at least here on the mainland. How long have you played this instrument? What led you to pick it up?
K: I've only been playing the ukulele for a couple of years. I play my husband's, and it was one of his Christmas gifts. He wanted one, and I didn't think I really had any interest in learning to play. After picking it up and playing with it, I found it to be so much fun! It's easy to learn to play a song quickly, and depending on how much you want to learn and practice, I believe there's no end ot what you can play on one. He did get another ukulele, and the Christmas one is mine!
A: How did you get your start in photography?
K: I'd always been into drawing, painting and things like that. I love to experiment and learn new things. A friend had shown me some flower mandalas made from photographs, and I had to try to make one myself. They're so amazing and the energy around them is wonderful. Wanting more of my own pictures to make mandalas from, I got a better camera. Once I had spent the day at the Botanic Garden shooting, I was thoroughly hooked. The more I work with a camera and its images, the more possibilities I see and the more I love it.
A: What kind of software would you recommend for doing digital montage and fine-art photography refinements? Do you know of any good tutorials to pass on to the rest of us?
K: I love Photoshop. I have so much time invested in learning it, I don't even look around at anything else. Once you know how to use it, you're only limited by your imagination. You can pretty much make any vision become visible. It feels nearly like magic sometimes, or at least the way I imagine magic might be!
For anyone who has the basics down and knows the tools and their functions, I highly recommend Professional Photoshop (5th edition), The Classic Guide To Color Correction by Dan Margulis. It's not a book of formulas or steps. He teaches you how to reason and see, how to evaluate an image, plus so much more. Besides Dan, two of my favorite teachers are Deke McClelland and Scott Kelby. They both have websites with tutorials on line, and many books and videos.
There's a wonderful set of tutorials at Digital Grin. YouTube is a great resource. A fun set for photographers is 15 Tutorials for Recreating Authentic Photo Effects.
Thank you, Karen!