I loved making things since I was a child from peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to school projects. My mom gave me a Kodak disc camera for my birthday when I was twelve. I think she knew she had a creative kid on her hands and thought this would be a way for me to channel my energy. The camera started as a way from me to capture the moments with my family and friends and commit them to memory. It all seemed very natural living in Rochester, New York the birthplace of George Eastman and the Kodak Company. Photography and its history were at my fingertips. As I grew, so did my curiosity and my Mom encouraged me to take photography as a junior in high school. I was fortunate to have a teacher that was willing to invest her time and energy in me. I will never forget the day she gave me the oatmeal can loaded with photo paper and told me I could go outside and take a picture with it and then develop it in the darkroom. She constantly fed my curiosity with projects, books, and artists. I was drawn to the work of photojournalists like Margret Bourke –White. It struck me then that I could use my art to make a difference as I reflect on the world around me.
I aspired to go to the Rochester Institute of Technology and become a photojournalist. I was fortunate to achieve this dream and graduate with my Bachelor’s in Fine Arts in 1997. I went on to work for the Niagara Falls Gazette for five years. Some days were great photographing features and events and some days wore on my body and soul. I liked creating images of everyday people doing extraordinary things but the fires, floods and car accidents made me reflect on my morals and ethics. I was fortunate to have the opportunity to see many careers in the five years that I was with the newspaper through the lens of my camera.
I opted to start taking classes part-time to attain a teaching certification to help adolescents start creating their future. I have been teaching now for sixteen years and I am very happy to be able to come across my graduates in the grocery store and know I helped create their success.
My photography is currently focused on portraits, events, and nature. Training as a photojournalist influenced my style as a photographer. I try to leave the image as close to the original scene as I can with the interpretation through the medium. I use traditional methods such as the reaction of my to the individual person or scene through the frame of the camera and lighting the scene for the best exposure. One of my proudest moments of doing this was at Flag Ponds Park in 2014 as I watched the sunrise. You have no control over Mother Nature you just have to observe, react with the camera and edit for the best images in Lightroom. There are times when I look at an individual and see them in black and white, then use the tools of Photoshop to create the vision I originally conceived at the moment. As new mother Mary Strain reached down to kiss baby Maya on the head during our studio session I knew the color would only distract from the intimate moment. I work in a digital darkroom with the traditional understanding of how the software can help me convey the image in my mind’s eye to the viewer. I have always liked it that photography is a balance between technology and creativity.
A camera is a tool that helps capture the special moments in life. I think that is why Graphic Design has appealed to me as my second passion because it is also both technical and creative.