Short Version About Me
There's nothing quite like the smell of pine in the air as I walk down a path and feel the crunch of pine needles and fall leaves under my feet. I enjoy the adrenaline rush I feel as I see quick movements in the vegetation around me that puts my senses immediately on alert. Give me the outdoors and give me birds...lots of birds to photograph! I've traveled the country this past year, looking for special moments to capture. In January, 2016 it was to see bald eagles in Iowa. Then in March I went to Kansas with a photog friend to capture shots of prairie chickens and shorebirds. The list goes on. With a camera in my hand as I savor each trip, I realize more and more how precious moments like this truly are.
Photography has been a rebirth for me, particularly as I delve into wildlife photography. In the fall of 2016 I made a decision to focus on wildlife and announced it to the world. In doing so I made a conscious decision to focus on an artistic endeavor that brings a tremendous sense of joy and peace to me when I am out in the field. The first thing I think about when I wake up in the morning is photography - typically as it pertains to birds. It's also the last thing I think about at night when I go to bed. When I am not actively creating art or learning about how to improve I feel as though I can't breathe. I get antsy and anxious. I retreat from the general population to regroup. For this reason I am either out taking photos virtually every weekend, reading up on new techniques or working on editing and improving my skills as a photographer. Because I must.
In 2019 I further refined my focus to pursue conservation photography in particular, and have been working with Appalachia Ohio Alliance and the Arc of Appalachia to provide visual support for their mission through imagery.
The Longer Version
I'm a jeans and hiking boots kind of woman, having spent the majority of my life savoring those moments when I get outdoors. As a young girl I dreamt of becoming a park ranger, until a family feud led to a move to Maryland where I ended up becoming a military wife and a mother. Since those days my focus has changed...particularly recently.
In January of 2016, several members of the Friends of the Hocking Hills Camera Club drove eight hours each way to Lock and Dam 14 in LeClaire, Iowa. Anticipation was high when we got there and we photographed scores of eagles during cold, blustery winter days. Heated hand and toe warmers made life so much easier! The walkway of the site was frequently lined up with photographers and we raced to get there first so we could get a good spot. There was steady action and the eagles would swoop down into the water to grab a fish and then swiftly gain altitude to fly somewhere safe to dig in to the feast. Often they'd land in nearby trees. I was smitten. It was a bonafide adrenaline rush when we captured a good (or even great) photo. At the end of one day while there, we saw a group of American white pelicans circling the air above the dam looking for fish. All of a sudden they started diving and fishing...putting on one of the greatest shows on earth! It was quite a sight to see as they lifted off afterwards, circling once again and heading toward the setting sun. I was hooked. Most of the other photographers missed the pelicans because they'd already left for the day. The experience taught me a lesson - stay where you are and work the area as long as possible, photographically speaking. Dusk and dawn are some of the best times to capture wildlife in action.
Something else I've learned in the past few years is that you never know who you'll run into when out taking photos, or the impact they might eventually have on your art or your life. In February of 2016 I met a local natural history expert while driving a back-country road in Pickaway County, Ohio. I was hunting for short-eared owls to photograph. I asked if he'd seen any. The answer was no. We struck up a conversation and for all I knew he was just another birder who seemed confident about when and where the owls would target for an all too brief appearance. What I didn't realize was how much knowledge he would end up sharing with me throughout the year, and my wildlife photography skills have developed quickly as a result. Another lesson was learned...always talk to strangers, particularly if they're photographers as well.
If those events weren't enough to help me on my way to a decision of which genre resonated the most to me as a photographer, add in the fact that I have several friends who are creatives as well...restless, inspiring souls who I connect with on a routine basis so we can discuss our work and processes, nurture and support each other. One friend helped me prepare for an art show when I was at my wits end and didn't think I would get done in time. Another has challenged me to write more frequently. Whether their interests are the same or not in terms of genre, we have similar struggles and epiphanies. It's important to have friends to bounce ideas off of and it's critical to have someone you can trust to provide an honest opinion of where you are at and how you might improve. When you find a person who helps you grow artistically, keep them in your life!
As far as my latest progress goes, the biggest push has been to get out and shoot. Often. The sheer number of parks, bogs, wetlands we have in Ohio and the lakes and shores of the state are a treasure to all the residents that live here. It's humbling to think about really, in terms of the possibilities for exploration. That being said, as time goes on I've felt an inexplicable sense of urgency in accomplishing my goals with my art. Some call it a passion. Others call it craziness. Whatever naming convention you choose to use, the time I spend on my photography is what brings a sense of purpose to my life.
Artist in Residence - Arc of Appalachia April, 2019
Board of Directors - Appalachia Ohio Alliance, 2019
2017 and 2018 Ohio State Fine Arts Fair Juried Exhibition
2018 Depth of Field: Metro Parks at the MAC from March 22-May 20, 2018 Juried Exhibition
Awards and Published Photos
2016 Arts in the Alley, Grove City
Photography - Best of Show
Bird Watchers Digest November, 2017 edition - Sandhill Crane
Sedge Wren - Audubon.org and Columbus Metro Parks Publicity Material
NANPA Top 100 Showcase Competition - Chosen in 2019, to be published in 2020
Arc of Appalachia - 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019
Multiple Images in Annual Magazine
Front page photo in the December, 2016 publication to members
Appalachia Ohio Alliance - http://www.appalachiaohioalliance.org
Arc of Appalachia - http://arcofappalachia.org/
NANPA - North American Nature Photographer's Association