What is your background with photography? How did you get started?
Like many people, I’ve been shooting for years, but when I moved to the mountains above Reno, just 22 minutes from Lake Tahoe, my whole style of shooting changed. I went from point and shoot at any time of the day to sunrise and sunsets reflecting off of Lake Tahoe. I read articles and blogs from other photographers on lighting and editing, and browsed through countless images taken by professional photographers to get ideas and information on perspective, filters, and post processing. Darken the highlights, lighten the shadows, play with the contrast and some of the color sliders, watch out for rogue shadows and too much contrast in your image.
What is your favorite piece of camera equipment and why?
My 8 stop filter that allows me to photograph water at any time of the day and still achieve that dreamy filmy affect. It’s especially fun when the waves are huge! That’s when it’s time to play with the length of the exposure, creating all kinds of different versions of the same scene.
What’s been the most exciting thing that has happened to you with your photography the past year?
I’ve been asked to speak at the Shooting the West Symposium in Winnemucca, NV in April. My topic is Wild Women in Photography, basically talking about getting off the beaten path and exploring into the wild parts of the landscapes. If you’re shooting from the side of the road, your photos will look like everyone else’s. Climb a mountain, get into a river, and don’t be afraid to do something a little out of the ordinary. Find your own image. Inspire yourself!
What was your favorite image that you took while on a workshop? What about this image makes it your favorite?
Pillar of Light which I took with the AA on The Narrows Extreme Workshop. I had experience shooting water, but only sunrise and sunset reflections. I had no perception of how light bounced back and forth between the walls of the canyons in the Southwest, and without the help of Brian Rueb, I would have walked right past this location. I’ve since been back three more times in The Narrows, venturing in by myself, finding more beautiful images, understanding that the rocks continually move in the Virgin River, creating ever changing lines and flow.
What advice do you have for other photographers who are looking to improve their skills with photography?
Attend workshops, join a group of photographers, read about your craft, and make it a point to get out and shoot every chance you get, especially when there’s a perfect storm brewing or the sky is cloudy and the sun is setting. Be fearless.
What are three advantages to the workshop experience for learning that you can’t get with a book or video?
1. Immediate help and advice when you encounter a problem
2. Positive encouragement and direction
3. Someone to scout out the best locations based on the current conditions
What is the one piece of non-photographic gear you can’t live without on a trip?
My morning coffee!
Mountains, Deserts, or Seascapes? Which would you rather shoot for a solid year, and why?
I love capturing beautifully colorful reflections on the water, so I would have to say a Seascape. But ideally a mountain, reflected in a lake at sunset, surrounded by fall foliage, would be the image I could shoot every day.
The biggest “A-ha” moment I’ve had while shooting was what?
I was with the Aperture Academy on my first workshop, which was in the Narrows of the Virgin River in Zion. I had always shot in Aperture Priority mode, and when I was told to go Manual or go home, (kidding), I realized I had no idea where to find my light meter. We were photographing a waterfall in the early morning light, and one of the instructors, Ellie, noticing the crestfallen look on my face came over and asked me how I was doing. When I explained the problem, she showed me where the light meter was on the viewfinder. I was pretty embarrassed, but eternally grateful, and never went back to shooting in aperture mode.
What do you think is currently keeping you back from being the best photographer you can?
My early morning 3 mile run…
Do I head out and wait for a sunrise, standing there quietly, patiently, or just start running? Decisions, decisions! On a serious note, I’m not technical. I don’t do very much post processing, in fact, most of what I do is accomplished in Adobe Camera Raw. That’s it! I don’t like to learn new tricks, and that’s where a really great workshop can help.
What’s one thing you’ve photographed that would surprise people who look at your portfolio?
Street Art in NYC. Hopping on a subway at dawn and riding into Noho and Soho all alone. That’s part of being a Wild Woman, the ability to venture out into an environment that seems intimidating. But after you’ve done it once, that fear of the unknown goes away. And you’re free to be an adventurer. You do need to be aware of your surroundings, and walk with your head up. And if you look someone straight in the eye and smile, you’ll be amazed at how many people smile right back at you!
Do you prefer to shoot alone or with others and why?
I truly prefer to shoot alone because I love the peace and serenity of experiencing the beauty of a moment without anything or anyone to distract me. Capturing an image becomes meditative, Zen like. Plus sometimes I like to climb right up the side of a mountain or wade out into a river, and I don’t want to be responsible for anyone else. And I definitely don’t want to hear someone tell me it’s too early to get up at zero dark thirty. After all I’m a wild woman.
What has been your favorite Aperture Academy workshop and why?
The American Southwest Extreme, with Stephen and Ellie. We were definitely way off the grid, driving by moonlight on jarringly bumpy side roads, dodging elk and rabbits who thought it would be fun to play chicken with us, shooting ruins that would be impossible to find unless you did a lot of hiking and backpacking into the wilderness. I’m eternally grateful to Stephen for sharing these sacred places with us.