Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Feature Wednesday with Vanessa Day Photography!!!

We're thrilled to learn all about our last week's challenge winner, Vanessa Day of Vanessa Day Photography!   Thanks so much for giving us a peek into what makes you tick Vanessa!

1. Please tell us about yourself…

I am a wife of ten years and stay at home mother of four. I grew up and just recently relocated back to Eaglesham in Northern Alberta, Canada, a very rural community. Photography is only one fascination of mine out of many, the others ranging from permaculture and gardening to theology and politics. 

2. Can you describe your style in 3 words? Why those words?

The three words I would select to describe my style are documentary, rich and gritty. The initial drive to any photograph I take is to tell a story, to draw the viewer into the scene I see, either to make them laugh or reflect. When using words I am a clumsy story teller so the photograph becomes my voice. The second and third words are the elements I use in my attempt to tie my body of work together. I love the richness of yellows and reds particularly in the skin tones and hair but when I opt for a black and white processing I tend to underexpose the image which adds grain to the mid tones and shadows. I feel as though this grit brings depth and a tactile element similar to the richness in my colour images.

3. What sparked your passion for photography?

I would have to say the incredible work of photographers like Steve McCurry first drew my attention to the power of the photograph. As a child I would spend hours flipping through National Geographic and Equinox magazines marvelling at the potent images. 

4. What’s in your camera bag right now?

Currently I am using a Canon 5D MkII with 50 1.2L, 100 2.8L, and 16-35 2.8L lenses. I also carry around a Mamiya C330 with the 80mm lens but shoot it sparingly. 

5. What is your dream shoot or project?

Since I am drawn to the personal work of photographers like Joey L I would like to say my dream is to travel afar to capture incredible portraits of everyday people and perhaps this journey will come in the future. However my heart is drawn to my home province and the dying rural communities within it. I would love to put together a body of work that captures the incredible spirit of rural Alberta.

6. What are some of the misconceptions you had about photography and photographers at the beginning of your photography journey? Have they changed, and how?

My biggest misconception about photography was that the hard work and discouragement would all be early on, that once I had a reached a particular level of competence in the craft that it would be smooth sailing from there. The continuing battles with operating a viable small business and the constant push to improve don’t go away. I had also assumed that photographers were sacred guardians of secrets however I quickly discovered that they are more often than not very happy to share their expertise with the newbies. I cannot tell you how valuable mentoring was in my early growth.

7. What advice would you give to newbie photographers? What advice do you wish you’d been given at the very beginning?

First bit of advice I give to any new photographer I talk to is, learn how to fully control your equipment. Often copying the work of other photographers to get a particular look gives you tools to use and also knocks them off their pedestal in your own mind. Experiment with the gear you have and push it to all of its limits. This is time consuming in the beginning but taking shortcuts will stunt your growth. Once you’ve copied the masters and grown comfortable shooting in a variety of scenarios, throw it all out the window and start again. Go back to the beginning and find your own voice. Now is a good time to become a student of everything in the creative world. Figure out what makes something beautiful or compelling. Learn form and composition, tone and texture. Find an artist (not a photographer) who is educated and can give you a new perspective. In all of this also become a student of the self. I love the G. K. Chesterton quote “What embitters the world is not excess of criticism, but an absence of self-criticism.” Take an honest look at oneself and delve into all that is found. Determine what motivates all that you do and don’t gloss over what you find there. Brutal honesty is necessary. No humble brags allowed.
The advice I wish I had listened to when I had started (because it was always there) is photography is not an end in itself but rather a tool to be used to a greater purpose. 

You can find more of Vanessa's fabulous work here:

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