BEHIND THE LENS
"God gave me photography so that I could pray with my eyes" Dewitt Jones
I am happiest when I am traveling, exploring new places, meeting people, and creating memories. Photography is an essential part of the experience – ask anyone who knows me.
I grew up in a small town outside of Cleveland, Ohio. I was a complete science nerd and that was unusual for a girl at the time. My parents didn’t really understand my need to explore the world around me; however, they supported my interests and I had the kid’s version of a chemistry set, microscope and telescope before I was a teenager. I pursued my interest in science in college studying biology. One of my professors/mentors had a passion for photography, and he soon had me shooting nature photographs both outdoors and through a microscope. I learned how to process film and create images in the darkroom and was fascinated by all of it. A creative spark was ignited.
During the ensuing years however, the creative spirit in me did not flourish. My focus was on my family and glass ceilings, and I became the typical vacation shutterbug. Then I experienced my “mid-life crisis”, a re-awakening of the artist within. I began taking piano lessons, tap classes, and a few photography classes. Out of the three, photography is by far the way I like to express the beauty I see in the world.
I literally see in pictures and use a camera to record moments in time that are beautiful, inspiring, humorous, authentic and/or touching. I tend to see things that many people don’t, particularly when it comes to water. I am attracted to water – it energizes me and at the same time soothes my soul. I love to photograph reflections and create abstract images of ordinary objects. In some images you will recognize objects such as flowers, buildings and boats; others are a palette of colors and patterns that look like an abstract painting.
Having had the opportunity to travel across America as well as abroad, I tend to focus on what’s special in each place I visit. I have found beauty in unexpected places: hand painted fans in the Tai O market, wildflowers defiantly growing behind a little store in Swansboro, painted shoes hanging on a fence in a market in Camden Locks, reflections of mooring poles in the water. I do not pose or direct my photographs, nor do I use any specialized techniques to manipulate the image in post-processing. I much prefer being outdoors taking photographs than working on images on my computer.
I knew that being outdoors and taking photographs had a positive impact on my mood and well-being but didn’t know how my images affected other people. I won a photography contest at work many years ago and the image of painted shoes was on the cover of the company magazine. I heard from someone I didn’t know that her young son carried the magazine around with him because he loved the picture. I have clients who have my artwork in their home who tell me what a sense of peace or joy they feel when they look my images. My work is displayed in patient rooms at a major academic medical center and in waiting rooms of doctor’s offices. This is especially gratifying to me given my career in healthcare research. The power of art to foster positive feelings for patients, loved ones, and healthcare workers in times of stress is amazing. I feel blessed to have had a great career advancing ways to improve healthcare on a broad scale and with my art I have found a way to directly impact patients, providers and caregivers.
Surprisingly to me, people enjoy looking at abstract images of nature. I believe abstract images engage people in a different way – the patterns and swirls of color can be perceived as anything the person wants and they can forget about day-to-day issues. Given the current pandemic, abstract art gives people something different to think about. It’s so gratifying to know that my photographs, abstract and non-abstract, can elicit such positive feelings in people.
My technique and joy is to capture the stark and finite beauty of the departing moment, when the ordinary becomes the extraordinary, when the real appears unreal.