Carmen, tell us about your journey with photography...
I owned a film SLR camera for many years and then upgraded to a DSLR. I enjoyed taking pictures of my family, vacations, and occasions but only shot on “auto” settings. Five years ago I decided that I wanted to take my photography to a new level by taking a beginner’s in-person photography class. Since then, I have been passionate about photography and continue to seek opportunities to learn and grow.
How would you describe your photographic style?
I feel like my style is something that is constantly evolving. I enjoy photographing unique angles, perspectives, and details that many people would not even notice in a scene. I also love simplicity and minimalism.
Why does photography mean to you, why are you passionate about it?
At the start of my journey, photography was my “me” time. I still enjoy the escape that photography gives me from the duties and stresses of day-to-day life, but it has also become a creative outlet that fuels my soul! I love the power of photography to tell stories, preserve memories, and bring joy to others.
What are you shooting with?
I shoot with a fairly old, crop sensor Canon 60D. Someday I hope to own a Canon mirrorless camera.
Can you choose a favourite photo?
One of my favourite images is from this past summer (July 2020). It is an image of myself, standing in a canola field under the milky way. The whole concept was an experimentation, especially the flashlight, but I was thrilled with how it turned out. Just when I thought I was done for the night, I turned around to the north, and saw the aurora borealis starting to dance across the sky with the comet NEOWISE. It was a magical night!
You live in Canada, do you have a favourite location there?
Canada is a beautiful, but very vast country. There is so much of Canada that I have not yet seen. My favourite location is anywhere in the Rocky Mountains, where I love to camp, hike, ski, photograph, drive, and so much more! My favourite urban location is Toronto, Ontario. I love the cultural and artistic diversity that Canada’s largest city offers.
What are the group photography opportunities like near you, do you have camera clubs, photographic meetups etc?
I belong to a camera club in Red Deer, Alberta and am aware of numerous other clubs throughout our province and beyond. There are many opportunities to participate in workshops, although they are currently more limited due to Covid. In the winter of 2019 I participated in the Canada Winter Games as a volunteer photographer, which was an amazing opportunity. Through these activities, I have met many fellow photographers with whom I plan casual meet ups and outings.
Tell us about your Porch Portrait campaign…
Life changed so drastically for most of the world in March 2020, the start of the Covid-19 global pandemic. I, like many people, was stuck indoors and struggling to find motivation, inspiration, and hope. One day on the news, I saw a brief clip of a fellow photographer in Calgary who was taking porch portraits. I decided to get a little more information, and then to see what kind of response I would get to porch portraits in my local community. The response was overwhelming - I visited over 35 homes to photograph individuals, couples, families, and many pets, on their step or porch, while maintaining a safe distance. This campaign made me feel alive! The sessions brought joy and a sense of purpose to everyone on both sides of the lens. I thoroughly enjoyed documenting this historic time for people of all ages, ranging from just a few months to 90 years of age!
You recently had 'Home Is Where You Park' featured in NZPhotographer magazine as part of a Top 10 Excio Images feature... tell us how you felt when you saw your photo had been chosen.
I was thrilled to have my photo chosen for this publication and to have it recognized in a different part of the world. Photography really is a universal language and is such a beautiful way to connect with others no matter where you live.
What tips can you share with readers for capturing the night sky?
Capturing the night sky has been my “pandemic project” and I have learned so much in the past few months. I did a lot of online research for the things I wanted to photograph and made myself “flash cards” so that I would have some tips handy when the time came. The most important gear for night photography (stars, aurora) is a tripod and a wide angle lens. One of the biggest challenges of night photography is achieving accurate focus. I recommend focusing during the day on a distant object, and then taping your focus ring in place with gaffer tape. For photographing the moon, I recommend a longer lens as well as a location far away from other objects, such as a city skyline or other buildings. Most importantly, enjoy being under the night sky… capturing a great image is only second to the experience.
What else should we know about you or your work?
I greatly enjoy photographing my local surroundings, and sharing my images with others in my community (Sylvan Lake, Alberta). I believe it has helped others to truly appreciate where they live and to view the world in fresh, new and interesting ways.
Photography has helped me to embrace and even enjoy the long and cold winters in Canada. My best photos are often created in the worst weather!