Many speakers focus on technical aspects of photography or post-processing--the "how." My presentations focus on the "why."
Mindful nature photography implies a passionate (but not passive) receptivity to gifts of Presence that reveal themselves when we notice what we notice, honor what catches our eye and our breath, and seek to distill the movies of our lives into Moments that deserve to be remembered. This moment, this encounter, this light: Now. That is living a mindful life. In our individual ways, we pause. If we are photographers, we adjust a lens, we press a shutter. We say, Yes. This. Now.
In my presentations, I invite audiences to consider questions like these: What are the emotional keywords that define us, and inform our image-making? For nature and wildlife (non-studio) photographers, how do we respond to and recognize the gifts inherent in changing conditions out in the field? How can a mindful approach to photography benefit not only our work, but our larger lives? Examples from my own award-winning work illustrate and amplify my own answers to those questions as I share my perspective on being a Mindful Nature Photographer.
Through 15 years of field experience, I believe that we can connect with wildlife and wild birds in much the same way we can with our domestic pets. All of my programs touch on this notion, as I think connection is key not only for nature photography, but for its implications for stewardship of our planetary home.
I've had a camera in my hands since my 10th Christmas, when I got a Polaroid Swinger and raced my way through that first pack of film in about 10 minutes. (Would have been faster, but as I recall, each of the 10-pack images required about 60 seconds to fully develop.) Happily since then, photography has both taught and rewarded patience! I learned to develop black and white 35mm film in high school; my first adult job, as a news reporter/associate editor for a weekly paper expanded those skills. My career experience includes a decade as Dare County’s Public Information Officer, followed by serving as Community Manager for unincorporated Colington Harbour, and as Engineering Coordinator for a local engineering firm, prior to my husband and I purchasing Yellowhouse Gallery from its founder at the end of 2005.
I completed my academic degrees in mid-life, earning a BS in Environmental Studies from Eastern Oregon University and a MA in Environmental Education through Prescott College.
Speaking engagements include programs for the Outer Banks chapter of the Carolinas Nature Photographers Association, area Chamber of Commerce, Rotary Club, numerous local church and civic organizations, and directing a weekend-long women’s retreat for approximately 110 women.
I've given field workshops here on the Outer Banks, at the Pocosin Center for the Arts, and at Mountain Lens in Hendersonville, NC; I also offer private instruction for folks who want a more targeted, personal approach in a smaller timeframe than a several-day workshop. (All of that I put on hold in 2020. Safety first.)
Reframing Your Portfolio through Emotional Keyword
Most of us, I feel sure, organize our portfolios—whether loosely or formally—by subject. Living on the coast for the past 45 years, I have thousands of images of sunrises and sunsets over sea and sound, lighhouses, piers, fishing boats, dunescapes, pelicans, and shorebirds. But this isn’t a program about organization per se—though I could sure use more of that myself!
Years ago I read an article in Outdoor Photographer magazine in which African photographer Andy Biggs described how he reframed his portfolio and his photographic experience by applying emotional labels to his images, rather than subject labels. As both a life-long writer and photographer, I know how our words matter. The idea of describing photos emotionally gave me immediate ideas to challenge myself to create fresh images when out in the field.
My program touches on Andy Biggs’ philosophy and provides examples from my own work to show how a broad portfolio of subjects can be powerfully synthesized into a few emotional responses, giving viewers solid ideas for examining their own work through a new conceptual framework and inspiring the creation of more powerful, intentional imagery.