What a great interview. I enjoyed reading this very much for two reasons. First, because Lori is a fellow Mainer and second, because she’s extremely thoughtful. In the following interview, you’ll learn a lot about Lori. You’ll learn how this extremely talented photographer and digital artist began navigating her way through the field of art and photography, how she took some time off and then finally, how she found her way back to something that’s become an integral part of her life today. It’s a great story and I’m glad I read it.
Lori, thanks so much for participating in this interview. You are truly gifted at what you do and I look forward to seeing more of your work in the future.
Can you please tell our readers a bit about yourself?
My name is Lori and I’ve had a lifetime of interest in fine arts. I started working towards a BFA after high school and particularly enjoyed studying art history, drawing, and design. At the time I was in school, there were few careers available in the arts. Without finances or support, I dropped out after my second year. While I was raising a family and pursuing various careers, I had completely stopped creating art. When my children were older, I purchased a Canon Rebel to document my perennial gardens. One day a flyer from a local Adult Education program arrived and I noticed a class called Intro to Photography. With very low expectations, I enrolled. The course changed my life. Years later, I finished my degree in art and psychology and developed a deep love of photography and digital art.
Where do you call home?
I’ve been living in the western foothills of Maine all of my life. It’s a good fit because I love lakes, mountains, and fertile soil in which to garden. The biggest source of inspiration comes to me directly from my gardens. Flowers are my first love.
Although I don’t live there, I consider Sedona, Arizona my home away from home. To me, it’s the most beautiful place on earth – inspiring for its physical beauty, spiritual essence, and place in history.
After browsing through your work and reading your “About” page, I see that you’re truly immersed in the field of photography and the graphical side of photography. What is it that led you towards this field and how long have you been working in it?
The digital darkroom part of photography is relatively new to me. When I first started studying photography more seriously, I had few resources and had to use whatever I could. For example, one day I was shooting with several professional photographers at a ballet class. I wanted to produce some soft focus images with a film camera so I found a nylon stocking, wrapped it around my lens, and fastened it with an elastic band. Later, when I showed my images to the others, I heard murmurs of approval. A year later, at a different shoot, I saw other photographers with nylons on their lenses. When resources are scarce you need to be resourceful and creative. I’ve managed to find what I need to get the desired effect.
It’s been a long road from working with a film camera to digital cameras and processing. Having the opportunity now to work with Photoshop and build images with a crazy amount of layering brings a new level of creativity to my work. It’s exciting.
Are you self taught or formally taught?
A little of both, actually. My knowledge of digital imaging is largely self taught; I rely on youtube videos and trial-and-error to develop my skills with Photoshop.
Where have you found the majority of valuable information along your journey?
Coursework in art history and design theory provided an excellent foundation. I am always conscious of the rule of thirds, leading lines, attention to white space…to name a few, though sometimes I disregard the rules.
I credit two contemporary artists with providing valuable information to inform my work. Jay Stock, a documentary photographer from Ohio, was an early teacher. He taught me to understand the art of composing with a camera, how to find the best angle, and, in order to maximize the opportunity to get the best shot, he encouraged me to shoot hundreds of images. I remember Jay bellowing at me to continuously click the shutter as we were photographing dancers. I went through dozens of rolls of film that day! He also taught me to look closely and continue to study your subject through the lens. You’ll never get the best shot with one click.
In 2011, I enrolled in a creativity seminar with John Paul Caponigro, an environmental fine art landscape photographer. JP approaches photography in a unique way. He taught about the value of sketching the images before picking up a camera. He encouraged me to think about creating a body of work, not just a single image, and to create a storyboard to include each image in the series. And, he reinforced the idea that it was critical to write extensively about the work. At first I thought, why would a photographer sketch the image before shooting? But once I started using his method, it was literally transformative to me! I had missed sketching and it came back to me swiftly and joyfully. Now my workflow begins with sketching and writing before I pick up a camera. I recommend this practice to all photographers.
From looking through the galleries on your site, I can see that you’ve captured quite an array of subjects. Of those you’ve photographed, which was your favorite and why?
My work this year features florals, along with some of the antiques I’ve collected, in a quasi-impressionistic style. I am, and will forever be, inspired by the masters of impressionism – Renoir, Cassatt, Monet – along with Klimt, Van Gogh, and others. Georgia O’Keeffe is my favorite artist. Several years ago I had the good fortune of visiting O’Keeffe’s historic home and museum in Abiquiu, New Mexico. It was magical to be there.
Regarding your styles of photography, which do you prefer the most?
You can probably guess my answer – florals.
What is your favorite part of being a photographer and digital artist?
I enjoy synchronicity and surprises. I live for that moment when you think an image is going in one direction, and then something unexpected happens. I accept happy surprises as a gift from the universe.
What is the most challenging part of both of these?
My biggest challenge is finding enough quality time to do creative work, since I work a full-time job at a local college.
What do you do to keep your photography and art fresh and how do you stay motivated?
Inspiration is the key to doing good creative work. I find inspiration in museums, art galleries, and art books. I follow interior design and fashion trends. Being in nature is important, too. I keep sketchpads all over my house since you never know when inspiration will happen!
Who or what inspires you in your personal life and work?
This is a tough question. No one person inspires me to do creative work – it comes from within. It would be impossible not to create. It would be like not breathing to me. My husband provides an enormous amount of support and encouragement.
Who is your favorite photographer?
I enjoy all photography, especially images that push the boundaries of traditional work.
What type of camera(s) do you shoot with? What’s your favorite lens?
I like Nikon equipment and I’m currently using a D200. My favorite lens is my 105mm macro lens.
What is your favorite photography accessory?
I’ve got a sweet tripod with a pistol grip.
What piece of equipment would you most like to acquire that you don’t have yet?
The Nikon D850 is on my wish list. Nikon – are you listening?
Was there a point in your journey when you started to feel really good about your work? If so, what did it feel like to get past that “tipping point?”
A quote by Mark Twain has haunted me until a few months ago. He writes, “The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.” This summer, while I was arranging a still life of flowers from my garden in an antique soap dish, I realized that I had found the ‘why.’ I’m finally doing what I’m supposed to be doing.
Are there any areas of photography or art that you have yet to pick up on that you’d like to learn?
I have a lot to learn! Of course, technology is always changing and I feel like there is so much more for me to know about the technical aspects of the camera. I consider myself a Photoshop novice and I’m constantly working to add to my knowledge base in digital imaging.
What do you think the future holds for you? Where do you see yourself in the next few years?
When I look into my crystal ball, I see transition in the near future. Perhaps within a few years I’ll be sitting in my studio near a large body of water, enjoying the view and sketching, with my Nikon D850 by my side.