Images are much more than a simple record. Photography speaks to the best and most generous part of our human nature–the desire to share what we find beautiful and interesting with others. Photography allows us to express ourselves through an art form. We notice a beautiful landscape or a sunset and we want to capture it. Each of us will have a different reason to do so but,essentially, we want to create something. However humdrum our nine-to-five lives may be the creation of an image makes us an artist. Photographs can grab our attention and speak directly to our emotions. Photography at it’s best, is a powerful language which speaks to us. It allows us to tell our story and show others our framing of the world around us. And for the photographer who trips the shutter, it feels good.
When did you first become interested in art, in general?
For me, it was in my early teens. I tried to express my self through painting and it became painfully apparent I had no talent for that medium whatsoever. So I decided I would “paint” with a camera.
When did you first become interested in photography, specifically?
As I said, when it was obvious I had no talent for painting, I decided I would express myself through photography. I have always been visually oriented. I have always been fascinated by what I see around me more so then the average person I think. When I look at something I’m always seeing a potential photograph.
Photography is my only artistic form of expressing myself.
On which style(s) of photography do you specialize?
My eyes are always open to anything and everything I see around me. However, if you look through my portfolio it is obvious I am partial to bold color,graphic design compositions, landscapes, which I refer to as natural beauty, flowers, and cityscapes.
Has your style changed from when you first began?
I don’t know that it has changed but that it has gotten better with experience and newer and better equipment. One of the best ways to improve is by learning from mistakes and not repeating them. By that standard I should be world class but of course you can always learn to do things better.
What kind of equipment do you use?
When I started in my teens, there was no digital photography. I used SLR’s from Konica and Minolta. As I became more interested and invested in photography I graduated to Nikon.
I stayed with Nikon up to and including my switch from film to digital about seven years ago. I transitioned from a Nikon N80 to a Nikon D5000 and then to a Nikon D5100 with a Nikor 18-200mm zoom lens which I am still using today.
I also have a Canon Rebel T2i which unfortunately I inherited from my brother who passed away recently. The Canon was a body only so I purchased a Canon 10-22mm zoom. With these two cameras I can cover most situations from extreme wide angle to medium telephoto.
If I have a need for a special lens such as a macro or long telephoto there is a large camera store near me that rents equipment at very reasonable prices for a day or longer.
What made you choose that equipment?
I originally chose Nikon basically because it just felt right in my hands. Now that I also have a Canon I love that also. You can’t go wrong with either one. They are both great cameras.
Are you a specialist photographer?
I don’t specialize in one area but shoot what excites me. Photography allows me to express myself through an art form and tells others what it is that motivates me.
Do you have favourite times of the days to take shots in?
My favorite time of the day is when the light is best for photography which is the two to three hours on either side of sunrise and sunset. However, I don’t really like to get up at the crack of dawn (probably a stigma from my Army days) so I take more pictures during the sunset hours. I find though that good pictures can be taken almost any time of day.
Are you a patient photographer, waiting for the right moment, or do you tend to just shoot and hope for the best?
Patience is not one of my virtues. As I have gotten older (I will be 72 in July) I am getting better at it especially when I use a tripod because it forces you to slow down. Honestly though, if I am not using the tripod I tend to shoot quickly.
Tell us about one of the longest shoots you had and why you were willing to be patient?
I’m not sure I would call it patience but determination and discipline to get the shot. The iconic image in Arches National Park in Utah is the Delicate Arch. To get to it you have to hike about a mile and half over rough terrain and right before you get to the Arch you have to navigate a ledge about a yard wide with a scary drop into a valley if you are not careful. Plus it was about 95 degrees with high humidity. But I made it and got my “trophy shot.”
How often do you go out just to photograph or, do you have your camera ready at all times, even shopping?
I do not carry my camera with me at all times. Most of my photography is done while on vacation with my wife. Our vacations are always planned with photography in mind. When home, I must admit, I am a “fair weather” photographer. I don’t go out much in the winter months but I am active the rest of the year. I am lucky to be so close to New York City since there is a never ending supply of subjects there.
Do you edit in Photoshop or another programme? Or do you outsource to someone else?
My brother was my Photoshop guru but now that he is gone I have purchased PhotoShop Elements and Corel PaintShop Pro X4 and will be learning to use them in due time. Right now all my editing is done in Picassa.
How much time (on average) does it take to edit a work?
When editing in Picassa I normally spent 5 to 10 minutes on an image.
How do you know when a piece is finished? Is it easy to walk away?
I know a piece is finished when my “gut” tells me it is. I walk away if I feel I am becoming frustrated. If I work when I am frustrated I find that I force things so I will walk away and stay away until I feel my equilibrium has returned.
What do you do to overcome a ‘block’?
If I sense a block I step back and do something else to clear my mind. Go for a walk, ride my bike,watch a movie, eat ice cream, etc.
How well do you take criticism and how do you make use of it?
I don’t mind criticism if it is constructive. If it is I can usually learn something or approach the image in a way I might not have thought of previously.
Who is your favourite photographer?
There are several photographers whose work I admire : Jay Maisel,Tom Till, Pete Turner, David Muench, Moose Peterson, and Galen Rowell come to mind. I have at least one book from each of them in my collection.
Which one of your photographs is your favourite?
I have many that I am partial to but my favorite is the “next one.”
Have you exhibited any of your work in galleries?
I have never had my work exhibited in a gallery but I did have an exhibition of about 25 of my works on display at my local library for a month. In addition I won the Grand Prize in a contest sponsored by the St. Thomas Chamber of Commerce taken while I was on my honeymoon. I have won the Top Award 10 times in camera club competion and have had several photos published in contests run by New Jersey’s largest paper. Most recently, in 2008 I had 4 pictures published in the book Great Destinations: NJ. one of which won a monthly prize of $1,000.
I have nothing pending at the moment.
What are your plans for the future?
My plans are to continue doing what I have been doing and get better and better at it. Probably do more macro work.
What advice do you have for budding photographers?
Follow your heart, do what makes you happy, and learn as much as you can either by taking courses or reading photography books and magazines and go to photography websites.
Have you done any courses to help you?
Yes, I took a course with Jay Maisel at the New School in New York City as well as a course at the New York Institute of Photography. The camera store, to which I referred earlier, gives courses in what they call Unique University, (The camera store is called Unique Photo.) I took a landscape class with Moose Patterson, a macro class, and an introduction to HDR. In the near future I will be taking a PhotoShop Elements class. Plus I subscribe to Popular Photography and Outdoor Photography where I am always picking up pointers.
What do you do to market your work?
I have business cards to hand out and I use Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and LinkedIn. I wish I had the ability to write a blog because that is a very effective way of marketing but the written word is difficult for me.
Do you enter your work in contests?
I do enter contests occasionally.
Do you use social networking in your day to day life?
I use social networking solely for my photography and to keep up with my daughter and nieces and nephews.
Are you available for work (commissions)?
I am available for photography projects.
Have you got hobbies?
My hobby is my passion for photography and travel which of course always involves photography. I also enjoy hiking which usually involves photography and riding my bike.
Where are you based?
I am based in Livingston, New Jersey.
© 2013, Isabella Francesca Abigail Shores. All rights reserved.