In November’s HubPatron of the Arts contest, Sarahredhead won the $500 first place prize in the photo category for a beautiful collection of photos titled PHOTOGRAPHY: A Living Palate.
To learn more about this impressive photographer and her work, we contacted her for an interview. Read on for a fun peek into the life of a truly artistic explorer!
HubPages: First off, congratulations on winning first place in the photos section of the HubPatron of the Arts contest! Were you surprised to find you had won, or did you know you had created a major contender?
Sarahredhead: I was shocked. I read Hubs almost everyday, and because this contest was dear to my interests I read several of the entries. The talent represented on HubPages is intense, and my admiration extends to several Hubbers.
I got so excited when the contest was announced; this is the first HubPages contest I have entered. When I sat down to write my article, I wrote from the heart. I simply defined why I love photography and then chose about twenty of my all-time favorite images. I remember telling my husband I felt my entry to be too simplistic. He said, “Let the photography speak for itself.”
In your Hub, you share how you were given your first camera at age 10. Would you say your photography has changed significantly over the years, or is there still a similar feel to it all?
Absolutely. I never included people in my earliest photographs, and I am not sure why. I wish I had more photos of loved ones in my youth. As an adolescent, I always focused on animals, architecture and trees. It wasn’t until later, when I was a young adult that I shifted to capturing portraits.
About ten years ago I became enthralled with industrial photography, which stays with me to this day. Lately I have seen some incredible photographs by other artists using the genre of street photography. My fascination with such imagery has led me to begin experimenting. I have definitely improved and changed over the years. It is fascinating to see how different styles and subjects have defined different stages and events in my life throughout the years. My photographic portfolio is my journal.
You also share in your Hub that you’re a purely amateur photographer and care less about special settings and fancy cameras – why is this the case?
First and foremost it was a total lack of funds. For years I used any camera I could get my hands on, but I always wished for the best equipment! I remember in college I bought $4 disposable cameras at WalMart just to have one at all times. Some of my best works came out of those cheap disposable cameras.
I couldn’t afford photography classes, and we never owned a computer. I read books on photography and even dreamed of having my own dark room. I was a self-starter and a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants kind of gal so instead of worrying about my inferior devices I concentrated on recording whatever scene caught my interest.
By the time I did get a decent camera, the world of photography had already shifted to the digital realm. This was intimidating for me because other photographers were excited about the latest equipment and I had no idea how to speak the language. How ironic is it that my old school camera days required more hands on manual skills whereas my newer cameras required a vast array of “easier” but frightening technical knowledge.
I am not adept at technical knowledge. For many years I used a Kodak EasyShare point and shoot. It was a sweet camera, and it was user friendly. The Kodak ushered me into the digital age. I would show up to take pictures at a friend’s wedding and they would take one look at my camera and laugh. “You’re taking pictures with that? I have THAT camera…”I think they were expecting big things.
Many of my fellow shutterbugs proclaimed the better the equipment the better the quality and talent. I knew this was not true. I encountered some prejudice over the years concerning the status of my equipment, which was completely ridiculous.
I remember I once courted a gallery in the hopes they would show one or two of my works. The owner asked me what kind of camera I used to shoot. I told him I was using a friend’s Sony. He never even looked at my work! It is bogus, I know, but it reminds me to openly encourage anyone who is passionate about photography! Ignore the Photog Snobs (but respect the true professionals!) and start shooting. Experiment, learn, make mistakes and grow.
What kind of camera do you shoot with?
Last year my husband bought me a Nikon D60 and for the first six months I used it in manual mode, with an old Nikon Nikkor 24mm lens my dad used when he was in college. I loved it.
Now I alternate between the old lens and a newer digital lens. I am much less intimidated by the technology. To assist my research I watch a lot of YouTube and read tutorials on both HubPages and deviantART. My goal is to learn how to use photoshop. The sky’s the limit!
Most of the photos in your Hub emphasize color- either in vibrant bursts or altogether absent. How do you decide whether to remove all or some of the color in an image or whether to emphasize it?
My life as an artist has placed me in the habit of dictating strong visual ideas using my imagination. I have done oil paintings for many years, and most of those images are composed from my imagination.
I have a habit of seeing my photographs as though they are also paintings (of a sort). When I view some of my photos, I immediately see them some other way. I can visualize an image in black and white, pastel, or any other combination.
A grand example would be the image entitled AUTISM. The original photograph was remarkable. Rosemary’s jumpsuit was primary red and the woods in the background were made up of strokes of vivid greens and rich browns. The first time I viewed that image I saw the rooster competing for attention. To allow him his chance to show off, I silenced everything else by removing their colors. I fell in love, and so did Rosemary.
Even as a very young child I was smitten with black and white photography. Sometimes a very ordinary image becomes extraordinary when I transform it into a monochromatic piece. Suddenly, all pretensions are stripped away and the simplest, rawest, purest most basic reality is revealed.
For some reason, some images thrive in black and white. Such imagery is frank and honest and acts as a validation of some bygone memory, era or intention. I used to think of black and white photography as the skeleton of all other photography. You can begin with the bones of a great photo and build upon that with color, texture…whatever. I will look at my color photos and see the strength of the bones beneath. I also enjoy sepia tones, but my judgment is not as good when it comes to sepia interpretations. Hopefully I’ll get the hang of it.
How did you decide on which photos to include in your Hub?
I held my breath and picked my personal favorites. My family and friends have opinions about which photographs are their favorites, and they give me excellent feedback. However, this article was very personal so I risked choosing my private collection. I attempted to choose a variety of styles – even the mistakes and the experimental ones. I wanted to offer samples of my works the way the waiter at a fine restaurant walks by pushing that fancy dessert cart. I want the viewer to look at those images and feel as though they have several choices.
If you could encourage people to try one new thing with photography, what would it be?
I’m trying new things right now! A friend let me borrow a macro lens, which I have never used. It is weird and I am not yet sure what to do with it, but I plan to figure it out.
Try new lenses. A different lens opens up an entirely different world for a photographer. It also keeps you on your toes! If your camera has a fixed lens, try something you have never done before, like extreme close-up portraiture, or night photography. My favorite moments are when I make a mistake and find a way to utilize that process (an example would be COMETS or FIRECRACKER) For me, it is all about fun and adventure.