Interview with Photographer Nancy Ingersoll

About Nancy
*Part-time high school art teacher.
*Practicing artist.
*Full-service creative resource.
As a teacher who guides high school students through developing a portfolio which is submitted to The College Board to earn college credit for the work, Nancy’s students have a 100% pass rate for the Advanced Placement Studio Art portfolios.

Her work on yearbooks has earned the National Award of Excellence year after year for the content, design, and management of the creative process.

Nancy’s creative expressions vary from photographs to digital designs to hand lettering, and prints of each are available on FineArtAmerica(dot)com. Additionally, she maintains the identity of a full-service creative resource by freelance marketing work that includes all aspects of a job from idea to design and all the way through to execution working with printers/fabricators and mail houses/installers.

When did you first become interested in art, in general?

I grew up around art with a talented mother who has developed her style throughout my life, changing mediums periodically. In high school, I had a great teacher who encouraged my abilities but it was not until college, sitting in accounting 101 (because everyone was a business major) and bored out of my mind that I decided the following semester would only include classes that sounded fun. I enrolled in a Graphic Art class, and was super excited when I realized you could actually major in something where every single class appealed to me.

When did you first become interested in photography, specifically?

I got my first 35mm camera for Christmas when I was in 10th grade (age 15) and enjoyed it so much that I enrolled in a photography class at the local community college just for fun while I was still in high school. I remember being fascinated with the results when the shutter was open for long periods of time.


In what other forms of art do you also work, if any?

Digital Design and Hand Lettering.

On which style(s) of photography do you specialize?

Like most artists, my style evolves. In college, I liked creating art pieces that don’t fit in categories like places or people, but focused more on the elements of art like texture, leading lines, and repetition. When my children were young, I was all about portraiture. As of late, I have been more interested in capturing the essence of a place, be it local or during my travels.

Has your style changed from when you first began? If so, why?

(see answer above) I guess my style evolved because I evolved as a person. My interests changed, thus my artwork changed.

One of the downsides of being an art teacher is that it is part of a teacher’s DNA to want his/her students to succeed and when they encounter a block, brilliant ideas are often given away so that they can be executed by the student.

What kind of equipment do you use?

I dearly miss my darkroom and would still be shooting in both digital and film, had I not moved 9 years ago. I use a macbook pro and shoot with Canon. I use Photoshop and keep both CS6 and CC on my computer as I have some plugins and programmed some actions that I like to use on the old version.


What made you choose that equipment?

My first expensive SLR was a Canon and when I went digital, I was able to continue using some of my nice lenses, especially my macro lens – it has been good to me for some of my freelance commercial work. Over a decade later, I have upgraded my body several times and still use that faithful little macro lens.
For the software, I have to keep my choices the industry standard as both a teacher and a freelance graphic designer doing marketing work.

Do you have favourite times of the days to take shots in?

Morning. Don’t get me wrong, I can hit the snooze button over and over, but that morning light is amazing. Speaking of light, I love natural light. There is something about the way that the sun can warm up a space and make it so much more inviting than lamps can.

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Land of the Free

Are you a patient photographer, waiting for the right moment, or do you tend to just shoot and hope for the best?

A little of each. I regularly designate a shooting day, usually monthly, but also tend to have a camera with me most of the time.

Do you edit in photoshop or another programme?

Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign get regular use on my machine.

What was your worse job?

My mom said that if you can’t say anything nice, you should not say anything at all. But I will add that it is people who are not nice that makes a job miserable.

What was your best job?

Right now – I teach one Advanced Placement Photography class (high school kids, who are creating portfolios in hopes of getting college credit for the work) and advising the high school yearbook (allows me to keep my Digital Design skills up). This leaves the rest of my time available to either freelance marketing graphics (I have a couple regular clients) and to work on my own artwork. I appreciate the way that my teaching job forces me to stay on top of current technology trends and allows me to immerse myself in a creative environment.

How do you know when a piece is finished? Is it easy to walk away?

I think there is a point that requires a step back, sometimes just for a cup of tea and other times for longer. I recently revisited some of my digital design pieces and reworked a few.
And then there are advances in technology that push us to revisit art. For example the way that FineArtAmerica now accepts PNGs with transparent backgrounds so that clients can designate the background color of their choice had me modify some of my digital pieces to enable this function.

Another upside of being an art teacher, besides having summer off, is that you are in the mushpot of creativity with ideas whizzing around you, a constant refresh of new imagery to look at, and the thrill of collaboration to execute a group show what maintains a single cohesive theme while demonstrating over a dozen perspectives and styles to the theme.

What do you do to overcome a ‘block’?

Look around. There is inspiration for art EVERYWHERE!

Musse Dorsay

How well do you take criticism and how do you make use of it?

With a grain of salt. Another perspective is always welcome, and sometimes sheds light on something I missed because I was too connected to the piece. But remembering that the one other person’s perspective is not the opinion of the world.

Who is your favourite photographer?

Edward Westin is my favorite photographer. Although, I think that what Jerry Uelsmann showed us in the darkroom is compelling, at least for any of us who have spent time in the darkroom. And the way that Galen Rowell captured light took my breath away (I had planned on saving my pennies to take one of his workshops before he was so tragically taken from us).

Which one of your photographs is your favourite?Sell Art Online

It is a toss up between two… One being a photo of my children interacting with each other as toddlers, so it is very personal to me and is not for sale anywhere. I took it with black and white 35mm film, and used it as my sample for hand coloring year after year with my high school students, never getting bored of it. A large uncolored print hangs as a focal point in my studio.

My favorite piece that is for sale as artwork is Docked in Portofino. I am very happy of the richness in the colors and the sky that day created the perfect backdrop.

Have you used smartphone cameras?

Yes, and it has been exciting to see the progression in technology. The first few generations only allowed for small prints without sacrificing quality, while now you see Apple’s billboard sized prints aside the freeways.

And the apps. It is mind boggling how programmers are able to create apps that control shutter speed and simulate tilt-shift cameras.

Do you think Smartphone cameras will change the whole world of photography?

They have definitely hurt the portrait photographers because with everyone taking so many photos all the time, it makes it easier for that luxury to be eliminated.

Hope Anchor

Have you exhibited any of your work in galleries?

I usually showcase my work, alongside my students so that they see me practising what I preach. Last year, we had two shows – one on campus and in conjunction with a concert whose theme was all work inspired by color, and the other was at a shop a block away from campus with a theme to create a cohesive show from several artists.

Will your work be included at any upcoming contests or galleries?

I suspect that this coming school year will follow the same model of one on campus art show after new year and another off campus exhibit with a theme that ties the work from all of the artists together.

That is one of the great things about being a practising artist and an art teacher – I can kill two birds with one stone when I go out in search of venues for a show.

What are your plans for the future?

Since I am a high school teacher, in addition to a practising artist, I have to keep up on current trends which I don’t mind at all. I am happy to be a life-long learner. Exploring new places and developing new skills is just the icing on this cake.

What advice do you have for budding photographers?

Don’t over edit. The high school photographers that I instruct have moved toward a model of over-editing their work. The boundaries of increasing the saturation are often pushed. To help in this arena, try shooting in only black and white so that you can focus on composition and content. When you have that under control, you will need to decide if the subject you are shooting is better off in color or black and white.

Bacon Makes Me Happy

Have you done any courses to help you?

Yes, I took a Photography class at the local community college, followed by coursework at the local university, then part of my bachelor’s degree at San Diego State University included photography and graphics, but that was before Photoshop so that part is mostly self taught with the exception of a few workshops that I attended.

What do you do to market your work?

The artist community is amazing, and building relationships with other artists allows for a wider audience. Mutual marketing, where you promote someone else’s art along with your own and they do the same for you, allows more ground to be covered without much additional work. Think of it like making dinner – adding another serving to something that you are going to make anyway is not much trouble but yields results that fulfil more people.

It is one thing when my mom says she likes my work, but when a stranger puts their money where their mouth is and buys an image I created, now that is a confidence builder.

Do you enter your work in contests?

I enter some contests on Fine Art America, but I must admit that just cruising the contests will sometimes inspire a new piece for me to create. Occasionally, I will enter other contests outside of Fine Art America.

Do you use social networking in your day to day life?


Are you available for work?

Yes, especially hand lettered prints (not to be confused with addressing envelopes or making place-cards).

Have you got hobbies?

My latest hobby is hand lettering. I have recently started adding some of the results to my offerings on Fine Art America.

Where are you based?

In the San Francisco Bay Area of Northern California

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One Thought to “Interview with Photographer Nancy Ingersoll”

  1. Thank you very much Nancy for such a great interview!

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