The subject matter of fine art photography can vary from landscape and floral studies to still life and portraits. Producing art requires the maker to be imaginative, creative and expressive. Theme, mood, and technical skill create emotive works of art. Fine art should stimulate and move the viewer.
An artist’s intention plays an important role in creating fine art photography. Deliberation is the act of doing something with purpose. As fine art photographs are not snapshots, it can take time and close study to create the perfect image.
My life experiences comprise both challenges and transitions ranging from managing my life partner’s long-term medical care, leaving the corporate world, and entering the art world as a professional artist. A significant transition occurred later in life when I finally started to live my life as a transgender woman. The combination of these experiences not only allowed me to develop a unique set of skills that personalizes my artwork, but also reflects who I am—a confident, strong, compassionate, caring and creative woman.
In 2011, the oyster mushroom captured my imagination because of its bizarre and varied shape, alien texture, and intricate detail. More recently, I expanded the range of mushroom images to include wild varieties, such as the lobster mushroom. The uniqueness of each mushroom provides me the opportunity to push my creativity. These images now represent a significant and revered component of my artwork.
While it has been said that my mushroom images are reminiscent of Edward Weston’s “Bell Pepper” series and that my photographic style echoes the Group f/64, the development of the unique set of skills allows me to personalize my images.
Here is a glimpse into my approach.
· Selection of the Subject:
The process begins at the local summer farmer’s market where I make my selections based on an initial visualization of various clusters of oyster and other wild mushrooms. By the way, these are edible mushrooms, so after I create the images, I can prepare a delicious dinner.
· In the Studio:
Working in the studio allows me to experiment and control the staging and lighting of the subject. Normally, I will create at least one image from the single mushroom cluster. However, by experimenting with different positions, I have created multiple unique images with the same cluster – a good example is Oyster Mushroom 42 and 43. Also, by combining two clusters I will make an one of a kind image ; Oyster Mushroom 37 is an excellent example.
Lighting is a key factor in creating a successful image. It determines not only brightness and darkness, but also tone, mood and atmosphere. Generally, I shoot in the evening to eliminate ambient lighting. I light my subject by positioning two strobe lights and use reflectors and/or diffusers to shape the light.
I create my images using a Mamiya RZ67 film camera with a Sekor Z 110mm f/2.8W lens. In this film, the negative is rectangular in shape; however, I frame each subject to create square image. For oyster and other smaller mushroom clusters, the square format provides for a powerful statement.
· In the Darkroom:
I use traditional black and white chemistry to print the image on Ilford Multigrade FB Warmtone Glossy paper.
Ilford Multigrade FB Warmtone paper is a premium quality, variable contrast black and white photographic paper on a heavyweight, baryta coated, fibre base. It has been designed for ultimate image quality, with warm image tones and has long been regarded as the discerning printers first choice. The advanced emulsion design means that Multigrade FB Warmtone delivers luxuriously rich prints with warm deep blacks and creamy whites.
After enlarging the image to fill the space I select an appropriate filter, aperture, and exposure timing. Then, using my dodging and burning skills, I expose the photo creating the unique voice and story behind each image.
Rather than giving a separate title to each photograph, I number the images sequentially to allow the viewer to form their own interpretation of the photograph. The mushroom images are an ongoing series of silver gelatin prints which can easily be ordered as large scale canvas prints.
January 2014. Reviewed in arte fotografico (Spain)
In 2014, I was invited to have ten images from my mushroom series featured in the Spanish magazine ‘arte fotografico‘ along with thirteen other international photographers. This edition of the magazine features still life images. This is a true honor and represents another significant development in my photography career.