Saturday, July 31, 2010

From the Collaboratory

Artichoke by moonrisephoto

My Wish List just got longer.

Have you ever gone looking for an image and had to resort to SEARCH in order to locate it? Well I sure have. Is your hard drive cluttered with images you’ll probably never look at again? Um, mine is.

Zuiderkerk at Amsterdam by silviareitsma

I’ve only been at this for about a year and a half. What will my files be in ten years? I have visions of digital files stacked up like aged newspapers in a hoarder’s house until they all come crashing down.

Enter Kevin, a “boat buddy” with whom I ride the water taxi in the morning. Turns out he’s a photographer, too, and a big fan of Adobe Lightroom. (I’m guessing many of you already use it.) John Greengo mentioned it in his class a while back, but I’d never looked at it.

In the Warren by irvingplace

Well, I checked it out, and it’s amazing. One of the online videos goes through the process from image capture to sorting and ranking and creating folders for favorites. The narrator eliminated the useless images from her hard drive immediately, tagged the best ones and added them to a portfolio in about ten minutes. Most of the commands are the same as ones used in all other Adobe programs, with a few similarly intuitive additions.

Gees! I sound like a commercial for Adobe, but I’m so excited about this program! Anyone have experiences to add before I run out and buy it?

Rush by allieart4children

Nakedeye17 (Su) thinks of photography as a wake-up call: "Hey, everybody! Are you seeing this?" She loves to capture humor, too, and anything wondrous strange. Find Nakedeye17's shop here.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Wanderings: Seattle

In honor of the band Heart performing in Boston tonight, today we will be traveling to Seattle! Turns out there is a lot of work from the POE Team featuring this cool city; if you'd like to see more, just click here.

Black White Urban Contemporary by JulieMagersSoulen

Lucie Wicker is a Boston, Massachusetts-based photographer who enjoys taking pictures wherever she goes. She is particularly interested in nature, landscape, and travel photography. Her work can be viewed on her website, blog or in her Etsy shop. She can also be found writing about Boston photography happenings as the Boston Neighborhood Photography Examiner.

Monday, July 26, 2010

New Works - Forest Edition

I am camping with my family this week, and in honor of our little vacation, this week's New Works selections are all forest-themed. You can find lots more forest photography here.

Autumn Reflected by photoamato

Boisterous Berries by rebeccakier

Waterfall Mist by JWPhoto

Streaming by dsbrennan

Old Growth Rainforest by photographybymoni


New works is compiled by Jessica Torres. Jessica lives in tiny little Kuna, Idaho with her husband and three rambunctious kids. She tries to ignore housework while taking pictures of whatever is near - her family, the Idaho landscape, random objects collected by her and her family. She loves visitors at her website and her shop.

Mosaic Monday: Summer Heat!

It's been so hot this summer!  Not that I'm complaining cause I love the sunshine, the dry heat, summery breezes, popsicles, iced tea with lemon & mint, kabobs on the grill, corn on the cob......
What I don't love is the soggy heat, bee stings, ants in my kitchen, wet & smelly bodies & that lazy feeling when I can't get anything done!

I was drawn to these POE Team photographers & their fine examples of summer!

Red Hot Poker  by TwoDogGardens
Fire Takes You Up  by siriusimagery
Jelly One  by barbraziemerphoto
Orangey  by shannonpix
Angelita  by malinda612
Rose Shine   by HolgaJen
Here Comes The Sun  by Kristybee
California Sun  by littlegraypixel
Pretty Chevys, All In A Row  by PhotoGrunt

Pat of photogenicgallery lives in the Northeast USA with her husband,  2 great dogs and the newest addition to her family "Rocky".  She will be chasing that tabby for the next months with camera in tow.  She loves visitors to stop by and visit through her open window.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

From the Collaboratory

All of us, I think, want to grow as photographers, to develop our work to the point where it knocks people's socks off. Yet most of us lack the time and/or finances to, say, go back to college for a fine arts degree, or even to take classes regularly. So, how do we continue to evolve?

That question has been bugging me for a while.

I’ve bought and kind of thumbed through a few how-to books, but for me, the best lessons come from three sources: talking with other photographers, shooting thousands of subjects under different settings and light conditions to see what works, and finally, studying photos that snag me and trying to figure out why.

A good class can teach us volumes. So can the work of a talented artist. Here are a few examples.

She Remembers a Time by SherriConley

Waterbells by takenby robinlynne

The End of Infinity by NoStoneTurnedPhotography

Landscape Blue Lake Photo by JulieMagersSoulen

Cathedral Park by mesmanimages

Nakedeye17 (Su) thinks of photography as a wake-up call: "Hey, everybody! Are you seeing this?" She loves to capture humor, too, and anything wondrous strange. Find Nakedeye17's shop here.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Focus On: rrobertsphoto

Angel in a Dark World

I've been putting this feature together for about 3 months now, and in all that time, all of my subjects have been women.  That’s only right, when you think about it, because most of the people here on Etsy are women.  But there are men about, and with that in mind, it seemed like the time had come to “Focus On” someone with a “Y” chromosome, but who should be the first?  As you might expect, I had an idea about that.

I look at a lot of photographs by POE members, and there was one guy that immediately came to mind.  Most of his images are landscapes, and between the composition and tonality, his work is striking.  If you’ve been looking at the work of your fellow POE team members, you’ve probably seen his images; if you’ve visited my personal blog, you’ve certainly seen them.

Randall Roberts of rrobertsphoto is the man I’m talking about.  He joined Etsy last November, but he’s been taking photographs for several years.  I recently had an opportunity to visit with Randy; here’s how it went:

Avalon Salt Cedar No. 5

Steve:  When I encounter a photographer whose work I admire, many questions come to mind; not the least of which is, "Who is this person and where is he or she coming from?" So, Randy, tell us about yourself; where do you come from? What is your family like? What do you do when you're not taking photographs? Just who is Randy and what makes him tick?

Randy:  I was born and raised in central North Dakota – my hometown population was about 1000 people. You only had to dial the last 4 digits of anybody’s phone number to call them, and from first grade (where I first met my wife) through high school graduation, I remember only one day when the schools closed because of snow, and that was in late April. We had just won the State Class B basketball tournament, so it wasn’t really the snow that got us out of a day of school.

The wind blows incessantly from the northwest, and both trees in the state do little to block it. It’s a song that I dearly miss when I’m somewhere else (as I have been for some time). Summer days are long; winter days are short; blizzards are a call to go outside and dive from snow banks.

Corrals and Tires

The Missouri River wanders out of Montana and disappears into South Dakota as it bisects the state, separating glacial terrain in the east from buttes and badlands in the west; I’ll take the west. The Cohen brothers made Fargo famous (lived there for about 7 years). Some people do sound like that.

My children have wandered away from home, but not so far that my granddaughter can’t visit when she wants. My wife was, without question, the world’s best preschool teacher until she recently retired after 30+ years to be more available to her granddaughter. I get the youth perspective on my photography from my daughters and son, and along with my wife, the whole bunch has a great eye for lighting and composition.

We left North Dakota when my daughters were six and four and my son was two so that I could attend graduate school in New Mexico, the state where we all reside to this day. They have all grown up in New Mexico and don’t hesitate when asked “red or green?” However, when the Christmas holiday arrives, it’s lefse instead of tortillas: rumagrout instead of pesole. Our northern visitors don’t quite know what to make of black beans and green chile on a tortilla, all topped with a fried egg when we serve them breakfast. We’re a happy mixture.

When I’m not taking photographs, I’m looking at stuff I should be photographing, sometimes to the point where I don’t quite stay on the road. Usually when I finally arrive somewhere, I’m a hydrogeologist, busily engaged in groundwater studies for this reason or that. This endeavor has taken me to far-flung places around the globe, always with my camera in tow. It has its upside.

Inca Dove No. 1

And your next question: who is Randy and what makes him tick? I squandered my youth as a musician, picked up a geology degree, and then a hydrology degree. When I bought my son a digital camera for Christmas some years later, I “borrowed” it so much that my wife politely suggested I get my own. I did just that and eventually sold off my last guitar. Who knows what they want to be when they grow up when they haven’t even passed their mid 50’s?

S:  Talk about your "long and winding road"; had you been interested in photography before the serendipitous gift to your son? What was it, do you suppose, that lit your "photography fuse"?

R:  I remember running around with a small camera when I was young, trying to photograph birds. I'd sneak oh so carefully until I thought I was close enough to get a shot. In those pictures, once the long wait had passed and they were finally delivered to the house, the bird was never more than a speck in the photo. I kept trying, but lost track of the camera somewhere along the way.

Cassiopeia and Thor II

Jump ahead 35 years. I had read an article about photographing the moon through a telescope by simply holding a digital camera up to the eyepiece. I was setting up my telescope before dinner, getting ready for some stargazing after dark, when I decided to point the 'scope at a starling in a nearby tree and try photographing it through the eyepiece with my son's new digital camera. It worked! The bird in the image was BIG, at least relative to my youthful attempts. I was hooked. Visions of National Geographic flashed through my mind. I still have that photo.

S:  The first time I ever saw a digital camera was 19 years ago in the Persian Gulf; I'm guessing it was some time after 1991 that you first started borrowing your son's digital camera. When did you get your start? Have you had any formal training, or are you, as they say, "self-taught"?

R:  My son got his camera for Christmas 2001. By the spring of 2002, I had bought myself a Nikon Coolpix 5000. I also bought a Pentax 80mm spotting scope and had a machinist make an adapter that allowed me to attach the Coolpix directly to the Pentax eyepiece. A friend of mine ran the numbers and the setup was roughly the equivalent of an 1800 mm lens. I did a LOT of bird photography in those early days. Swore I would never shoot landscapes because it was too difficult to make them interesting. Once I discovered that I could shoot IR with the Coolpix, I very quickly shot almost nothing but landscapes. For a while, I shot almost nothing in color. Unfortunately, I can't shoot IR with either of my current bodies (D80 and D90), but I'm looking into having my D80 modified to shoot IR. I miss it.

High Plains Storm

I've had no formal training. Looking back though my very early shots, I think my eye has improved somewhat, but that has simply come from shooting, and shooting, and shooting. However, I have lots of early images captured with my Coolpix 5000 that I couldn't improve now if I stood in the same place again. For example, my shots titled "Light," "Open," "Idyll Time," and "Time" were all from my early days when I was still trying to figure out which way was up, so to speak; they’re still some of my very favorite images.

S:  Of all the things that you shoot, landscapes, cloudscapes, wildlife, architectural studies, etc., what is your favorite to shoot? Do you find you go on planned shoots, or do you pretty much take it as it comes?

R:  What is my favorite to shoot…?

People have asked me that question before and I’ve decided I don’t have a favorite, at least I don’t yet. Whenever I can get it all to come together – the subject, supporting cast, light, and composition – I’m thrilled every time, regardless of whether it is a panoramic landscape or a mushroom under a pine tree.

Do I go out on planned shoots…

North Dakota Homestead No. 2

I rarely have this luxury – maybe three times a year I get to go out on half-planned shoots. I almost always have my camera handy and try to capture shots as they appear. I’ll often see something with potential as I’m out and about. If it’s relatively close, I might study it for a few days or weeks and decide what time of day, what sort of conditions, etc., might make for the optimal photo and then come back and give it a try. I’ve photographed scenes that I might pass only a few times a year, always watching to see if conditions were right when I drove by. Some of these targets have waited for a long time. “Down the Road” and “Dirt Road” are examples of scenes that I would drive past when traveling from Carlsbad to Albuquerque, NM. I watched both locations for years before I finally stopped.

S:  When you view photographs, and I assume, as a photographer, you do look at photographs, what do you go for? Color? Black and white? Landscapes? Cityscapes? Flora? Fauna? Or is it a certain style? What catches your eye?

R:  The first things I notice about a photo are the composition and lighting, regardless of the subject matter. Color and b&w are equally interesting – each has its appeal. I am drawn to certain styles, although I find that trying to explain the differences between my likes and dislikes quickly becomes complicated. Photographers whose work I enjoy include Steve McCurry, Nick Brandt, Ansel Adams, George Steinmetz, Thomas Mangelsen, and Annie Leibovitz, to name a few. There are a number of Etsy photographers whose work I follow (yours, for example), and some other less-than-famous folks like Chuck Kimmerle, a wonderful North Dakota photographer. One particular preference of mine is anything with a painterly look.

Old versus New

S:  How would you describe your perfect photographic day?

R:  A perfect day: The backlog of my day job is reasonably in check. The weather promises great clouds, maybe scattered storms. Somebody in my family is able to break away and experience the day with me -- the hunt for the next wonderful photo. The hunt starts early and ends late. Somewhere between sunrise and sunset, I found a shot that made me smile. Only need one to make it a perfect day.

S:    What does the future hold for you and photography? Where is photography taking you, or where are you taking it?

R:  Ah, the future. I'd love to do photography full time, but I don't see that happening any time soon, and that's okay. I still have a lot to learn about the whole business, particularly the marketing aspect. Selling is work -- hard work -- and I don't have the time to devote to it that I should, so I go forward in small steps. Along the way, I still get to work on the photography aspect, and that just gets more and more enjoyable. A few perfect photography days a year and I'm a very happy photographer. My photography path forward is hazy at best, but not all those who wander are lost.

Road to the Storm

S:  Not lost, indeed! Especially if one is more concerned with the journey rather than the destination.

Thank you for taking time to do this, Randy! I've enjoyed getting to know more about the man behind those fantastic images.

Randy's shop can be found at


PhotoGrunt is Steve Raley, a photographic documentarian from Seattle, Washington.  He captures images wherever he goes, and he  frequently even uses a camera.  His work can be seen on his websiteblog and his Etsy shop.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Mosaic Monday: The Series

Well hello POE Team!  Sorry I'm a little late this week with the Mosaic Monday.... To give you the background about how I choose the content or theme for the mosaic.... It's random!  I sit down at the computer & start looking through the POE Team results on Etsy.  Within a few moments, a thought pops into my head & I go for it.  This week I am showing you some of the series that our talented team offer.  Please enjoy!

the york series  by SlothArt
tiny flowers III by jessicatorres
tree series by LauraTrager
elephant-on-merry-go-round by jrzygirlphotography
hardly there by JoannasPhotography
blue bike ny street by poofny
ttv beach series by sunraven0
lillies square no 1  by GesturesPhoto
french bisto series by pinestreetphoto

Pat of photogenicgallery lives in the Northeast USA with her husband,  2 great dogs and the newest addition to her family "Rocky".  She will will chasing that tabby for the next months with camera in tow.  She loves visitors to stop by and visit through her open window.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

New Works - Christmas in July

There is an Etsy-wide sale going on during the month of July - it's Christmas in July! Below are some lovely photographs available at a special discount during this event. Find more photography on sale here.

Somewhere Over the Rainbow by celticcatphotos

Balconies in Villefranche by Metroline6

Lavender Tonic Daylily by OlGramma

Sepia Weather Vane by Knight27


New works is compiled by Jessica Torres. Jessica lives in tiny little Kuna, Idaho with her husband and three rambunctious kids. She tries to ignore housework while taking pictures of whatever is near - her family, the Idaho landscape, random objects collected by her and her family. She loves visitors at her website and her shop.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

From the Collaboratory

Offaly by DeconstructTheWorld

The conversation continues regarding marketing strategy for etsy photographers. Everyone who commented on the last Collaboratory posting agreed that money for showcases would be better spent posting more photos.

Jay B. Wilson of JBWPhoto said, "I've done a handful of showcases, with mixed results. Page views certainly go up, but if you look at spending $7.00 for a Photo Showcase Spot, you could spend that $7.00 on 35 new listings or renewals (at $0.20 each) and probably generate more traffic."

New Orleans French Quarter by JBWPhoto

I'm not sure why showcases don't seem to work as well for photos as they do for craft items. Anyone have any ideas? Or the opposite experience? Another marketing tool I tried - with absolutely NO benefit - was taking out one of those right column ads on Facebook. Total waste.

Taryn (Just Me) of BornBarefoot logged in with this great reminder: Here is a new tip that I think will keep people in your show longer. It was recently talked about on one of the ETSY emails. The goal is to reduce your bounce rate and keep people on your site longer looking at more photos.

They recommended that you put a url to another similar photo in the description body of your listing. For example, if you are listing a butterfly photo and have another one already listed in your shop, put a note, that "If you like this photo, you might like this one as well: (Put url of second photo here). This will show up as a link in the copy and will encourage people to click further into your shop.

Gears by CLCPhoto

The other thing I’m finding is that exposure through art festivals and one-to-one selling increases traffic on my etsy site. I created business cards with the Smith Tower shot on one side and my etsy shop info and phone number on the other. They seem to help. They're just another way to bring us visibility.

So .... please continue to post your good ideas in Comments, or convo me. If I get enough strong feedback, we can - and certainly should - revisit this subject again.

Nakedeye17 (Su) thinks of photography as a wake-up call: "Hey, everybody! Are you seeing this?" She loves to capture humor, too, and anything wondrous strange. Find Nakedeye17's shop here.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Our July slide show is LIVE!

Created by Taryn of BornBarefoot.

The theme is Red, White and Blue. Here is a selection of beautiful images from our very talented team of photographers on Etsy! Visit Etsy and search POE team for more great photography!

And the August slide show will be announced on the yahoo group on the 20th but you can start shooting now if you like, the theme is "Household Objects" - Have fun!

If you haven't joined the yahoo group / mailing list yet here is the link, all of the slide shows are listed on the calendar there.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Mosaic Monday: New Discoveries

I've been on Etsy for some time now & have established "favorites".  I know where to go to look at jewelry, ceramics, fiber arts, vintage & of course, my favorite photographers. I also have my favorite treasury curators & that's where I find alot of new shops.  It's not my normal routine to use search options but that's what I did to do this week's mosaic.  I searched "POE Team" & chose places where I've never been......

If you haven't done so before, try a new search.  Maybe you'll find some new favs!

reflection  by pneuma
jellyfish by 4blankwalls
goose in flight by rebeccakier

love graffiti by Seedsstudio
what-r-we-waiting-for by AmelieAPoulain
Turquoise New Jersey by AglaeaDesigns

Absence by stephmel
Seagulls by lesleypayne
Fences and Friends by DeepCreekStudios

Fairytale by bluemoonstudio
Brooklyn by anikatoro
Rattle That Cage by moonangelnay

Pat of photogenicgallery lives in the Northeast USA with her husband,  2 great dogs and the newest addition to her family "Rocky".  She will will chasing that tabby for the next months with camera in tow.  She loves visitors to stop by and visit through her open window.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

New Works - Fireworks

In honor of Independence Day in the United States last week, this week's new works post is dedicated to the amazing fireworks images captured by the Photographers of Etsy team. Check out these stunning fireworks displays, and see more fireworks photography here.

Fireworks Display by lbilbs14


New works is compiled by Jessica Torres. Jessica lives in tiny little Kuna, Idaho with her husband and three rambunctious kids. She tries to ignore housework while taking pictures of whatever is near - her family, the Idaho landscape, random objects collected by her and her family. She loves visitors at her website and her shop.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

From the Collaboratory

I wrote last week about exploring the whys and wherefores of successful marketing for photographers on etsy with Taryn Pyle of BornBarefoot. At the end of our last e-mail exchange, right before I posted, she discovered that she had gotten more than 500 hits on her site. She also sold 5 prints, all of the same photo. After much research and discussion, here’s what we’ve discovered: It’s all about visibility.

The more photos you list, the more your work will appear on the etsy homepage under “newly listed.” The more people see your work, the more likely it is to be chosen for a treasury or as a Handpicked Item.

Laughing Out Loud by ara133photography

I took a close look at two etsy photographers, ara133 and ketzelphotography, both of whom have been selling on etsy since 2007 and both of whom have sales figures approaching 8- or 900.

Here’s what they do:
Post several new photos at a time
Do so frequently
Divide their shops into sections, by either subject or style of photography
Purchase Showcase spots
Use all 14 available tags.

Rust Reflections by ketzelphotography

On the other end of the spectrum, I looked at “undiscovered shops looking for their first sale” under Pounce (Home>Buy>Pounce). Almost all of them had listed fewer than a dozen items, though some of them were new to etsy and still building their shops. It takes time to get rolling.

Hummingbird Nest by Teha

Taryn also suggested adding a link to the photo description whenever one is selected for a treasury. As she said, it lets people know that someone else liked the image.

We continue to welcome everyone to this debate. Please share your successes and lessons with us!

After the Storm by Larry 727

Nakedeye17 (Su) thinks of photography as a wake-up call: "Hey, everybody! Are you seeing this?" She loves to capture humor, too, and anything wondrous strange. Find Nakedeye17's shop here.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Focus On: Firstlight Photo

Rainy Day Flower


What comes to mind when you think of “focus”?  For me, it’s usually an image’s sharpness, you know, “tack sharp”, that sort of thing.  But focus can also mean narrowing one’s attention, excluding those things on the periphery and bringing one’s attention to the center.    

We’ve all produced those images, and a lot of photographers even specialize in closing in on the subject, but few do it better than Sue Templin, the proprietor of Firstlight Photography.  I first “met” Sue six months ago, about a month after she opened her shop, and it didn’t take me long to realize she was a talent.   I recently had an opportunity to visit with Sue about her and her photography, and I’d like to share that conversation with you.

Steve:  As a photographer, when I encounter images that grab me, I want to know more about the photographer that created them. Who is this person? Where are they coming from? What inspires them? So, Sue, can you tell us a bit about yourself, your family, your background, where you come from, that sort of thing?

Following in My Father's Footsteps

Sue:  I'm trying to think about why I take the photographs that I do ... hmmm I'm from a "medium-sized" town outside of Chicago and my grandparents came from a small town in Wisconsin. If I had my choice to go to Chicago or to the country it would always be towards the country.  I'm not much for the big city.

My father and his sisters are all very talented. My father was a woodworker (making all the furniture in his Northern Wisconsin cabin) in his spare time and his sisters are artists; one of them does bronze sculptures that are exquisite. My father's hobby was photography when he was young and I believe that's where my interest comes from.

Currently with my daughter taking horseback riding lessons and being out at the barn four times a week, the country is where my interests are.

Amish Hats

Steve:  OK, Midwest values, country sensibilities and creativity in your blood; sure, I can see those things in your work. Tell me, where are you today and what was the path, what were the life experiences, if you will, that brought you there?

Sue:  Well, let's see ... I went to SIU-C (Southern Illinois University Carbondale) with a major in Photography and proceeded to not do anything with it.

I had a number of jobs and ended up working for a friend who owned her own little ad agency. There I learned desktop publishing and the like.

I had my daughter and then I wanted a job with the school district so I could be there for her. I loved my little job with a middle school; I had it for seven years, but then the economy fell, I lost my job and then I got to
My cousin, a portrait photographer, told me about Etsy and here I am.

I love the images I’m creating; it’s a learning process, and I have so many fellow POE friends to thank. They've helped with their insights, helpful hints, opinions and referrals to different links to help create a broader base from which to work.

The Back Door

Steve:  Leaving photography and returning to it later seems to be a recurring theme among many photographers' narratives, myself included. I'm sure many folks would be curious, as am I; with so many programs to choose from, what was it that made you decide on photography as your major, and once you had your degree, what were the circumstances surrounding your decision to pursue a path other than a photographic one?

Sue:  You know I had an “a-ha” moment a while back. I had brought home some of my father's old photography equipment which included two cameras. I photographed it all and in doing so realized that he was the reason why I got into photography.

Growing up, there were many photos that my dad took of my mom when they were dating. They are beautiful, not the typical stuff you tend to see. I also don't remember my parents arguing with me on my choice of major at college.

Anyway, at college all the teachers talked about how we needed to go "knocking on doors" to find ourselves a job. Well for me that meant in Chicago. I did spend one day in the city with my portfolio and doing just that, going to photographers' studios, kind of out of the blue, looking for employment. I did get one interview, but in the end, Chicago wasn't for me. Neither did I want to do wedding photography in my home town. Thusly, various jobs led me to my friend's advertising agency.  And now, you know the rest of the story.

Spring Thaw

Steve:  I know what that's like! "Knocking on doors", asking for work, is never easy, especially in such a specialized field as this one. How did you feel when you set photography aside? How does it feel to once again be looking at the world through the viewfinder?

Sue:  In setting my photography aside I think I felt guilty for not doing something with my degree. My parents had paid for my education, and while nothing came of it, I don't remember any harsh words or recriminations from them.

Now, even though it’s 28 years later, it feels wonderful to be back at it again. It does something to the psyche knowing that you're doing something you love. This photography thing is a tough field, but I'm not letting it get me down ... yet.

Steve:  You know, Sue, your images are very easy to look at, the lighting, perspective, composition, they're all very pleasing to the eye. What's your approach? Are there certain themes or subjects you find yourself drawn to? Do you go out with a plan, or do you take it as it comes?

Old Country Door

Sue:  I guess I'm just a simple person who likes simple things. For whatever that's worth, I hope it shows in my work. I usually don't have a plan; I just know what appeals to me.

Steve:  I guess that's what I'm getting at; what is it that appeals to you? From a visual and thematic standpoint, what inspires you to create the images you create?

Sue:  Hmmm, that one made me think for a while. I guess just the simple beauty of the subject, whether it's a flower, an old and falling apart barn or building or anything out there in nature. I tend to see things in a close up way. I don't look at a whole entire "scene," instead I focus on one thing in the scene and do my best to capture it.

Steve:  Turning our attention to look inside ourselves is not the easiest of tasks, to be sure.

Here's an easier one, the answer to which I always find interesting: What's in your bag? What tools do you use to create your images? And, setting cost aside, what one thing would you like to add?

Aged Wall

Sue:  My bag ... ha! I don't have one, shocking isn't it? I only have my Canon XTi with the lens that came with, an 18-55 mm. But, I'm pretty happy with the photographs I've been taking, so it can't be too bad. I do, however, have a wish list. I'd love a Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM Lens. I just ordered another less expensive one to get the ball rolling. It will have to do for now.

Steve:  Which just goes to show that photography is less about equipment and more about vision, perspective, imagination and creativity. A truckload of expensive gadgetry may be nice to have and fun to play with, but strictly speaking, it's not required. It makes me appreciate your work all the more knowing that you capture it with a relatively basic digital outfit.

Every photographer I know enjoys not only creating photographs, but viewing them as well, so, what sort of images are you attracted to? What grabs your attention, what draws you in?

Sue:  Well, first of all, thank you for the kudos in regards to my work. What images do I like, hmmm ... photography's roots are in black and white and that's where we all started in school. I'd say I still love an orchestrated black and white photo. They can be so much more powerful when all the color is removed and we're left with the beauty of all the grey tones and deep blacks. I've turned a few of my photos into a sepia tone because the color wasn't working for me. Since being involved with Etsy my eyes have been opened to all the different works out there, but black and white still tops the list.


Steve:  Are there any photographers that you admire or that may have inspired you? What influences, if any, have they had on your work?

Sue:  Well, with this one I'm going to go back to my photographic roots and say those who I first learned about in college and whose images remain in my head. Photographers like Ansel Adams, the hard-core environmentalist and his images of Yosemite; Dorothea Lange and her haunting images of the Depression; Annie Leibovitz and her wonderful portraits. I remember sitting and looking and looking at those images by Ansel Adams; I have never seen better.

Steve:  What influences, if any, have they had on your work?

Sue:  Okay, now that's kind of hard. With Ansel Adams I would say it's how he found the right order in nature and created an image that stands the test of time. With Dorothea Lange and Annie Leibovitz I guess I've have to say the same ... their images can stand up to all others in their detail. I like detail in my photographs, I usually seem to stick with the close up. Though I don't do portrait work, there's still that quality of detail in Dorothea's and Annie's work.

Back in the Day ...

Steve:  Where is photography taking you, or where are you taking it? What do you see down your photographic path?

Sue:  I think I can more easily say what's not down the path. I don't want to do weddings or portrait work. Other than that, I'm just taking life as it’s thrown at me. I didn't expect to lose my job, but that ultimately led me to Etsy and all the work I've created. I want to focus more locally and see if I can get into any galleries and the like. I'm doing a couple fine art shows this summer, hopefully something will become of them. I can be disgustingly cliché and quote Forrest Gump, "Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're gonna get." I do try to be positive though.

Steve:  Thank you Sue, I enjoy your images, and I've enjoyed this opportunity to get to know you better!


PhotoGrunt is Steve Raley, a photographic documentarian from Seattle, Washington.  He captures images wherever he goes, and he  frequently even uses a camera.  His work can be seen on his websiteblog and his Etsy shop.