This week on Photog Friday: Mary Angelini. She started in the art world at the ripe old age of 9 but it wasn’t until a trip to Switzerland that she was bitten by the shutterbug. She bought a Nikon Digital SLR and keeps busy shooting landscapes, macros and wildlife? What’s her secret? What does she look for when setting up a shot? Read on…
Name: Mary Angelini
Country of residence: USA
My start in art began when I was 9 years old, my parents discovered I had an aptitude for drawing and for watercolor. They pushed me pretty hard in school to the point where I became burned out right around the end of high school. After an 8 years stint in the army I began a career as a paralegal. However, there was always a voice nagging in me to express myself in some creative fashion, however I was not able to find a satisfactory outlet. I did picked up a camera shortly before having my daughter in 1994, but with the advent of motherhood I could neither find the time nor the financial means to continue with it, even though I thoroughly enjoyed it. While the interest in photography remained, it was not until I went on a trip to Switzerland with my feeble little 2.1 mega pixel digital camera that I caught the bug again. When I returned I purchased a higher end point-and-shoot that soon gave way to the DSLR that I use now, a Nikon D60. I also enrolled in a certificate program for digital photography from which I just graduated with an “A” and have been reading as much literature on photography as I can find as well as following a number of podcasts. While I have only been shooting as a serious amateur for about nine months, I believe I have really come a long way in a short period of time.
How did you first get interested in photography?
I went on a vacation to Switzerland to visit my brother and his wife who live and work there. Despite having a low end digital camera I loved the pictures that I took, as did those to which I showed them. I also enjoyed that I could shoot as much as I wanted without the expense of developing and that I could see them as soon as I shot them. Since then I have forced myself to overcome my fear of being unable to learn the basics and fundamentals of photography and eagerly tap into whatever resources I can find to continue my learning.
What do you like to shoot?
My natural inclination is towards nature and landscapes, but I also find I am drawn to macro as well as industrial and urban photography as well. Additionally, I have found I enjoy shooting portraits which is helping overcome my shyness about approaching and interacting with people.
What’s your approach to photography, your philosophy? What do you look for? How do you set-up a shot?
My philosophy is about capturing what I think is beautiful about our world, whether it is the incredible magnitude of Grand Prismatic Spring or the hidden beauty of urban decay such as the Gas Works in Seattle. I look for that which moves me emotionally or something that reminds me of a time or place from my childhood. As far as setting up is concerned I like to try and capture it as it was when I happen upon it, after all, it struck me as beautiful for whatever reason at that moment, so why not capture that beauty right then and there. If time and expense permit I will go back and try when the light is different, such as during the golden hours.
What is the best photo you have taken? Why? Background and details, please…
I think my favorite shot thus far is one I took of the sun rising in an area of Yellowstone just before we approached Yellowstone Lake from the west. It reminded me of when I camped with my family in the Sierras as a child – the crisp air, the unobstructed view of trees and water and the absence of non-natural sounds. To me it felt perfect and I think I captured that pureness in that photograph. As for the details, we were actually running late to get to the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone before sunrise and I knew we wouldn’t make it so I figured what the hell, I’m stopping because I can’t mss this shot. I saw it and pulled off the road, I don’t even think there was a turnout there, and threw down my tripod, pulled out the remote release, metered my shot and fired away. It was simple and spontaneous and the result was breathtaking.
What gear are you using? What else do you want to buy?
I am shooting with a Nikon D60. I use a kit 18-55mm Nikkor lens for most of my work and occasionally will change that out for a 55-200mm Nikkor lens. I would like to move up to the Nikon D300s and get some better glass, such as an 18-200mm lens, but I have to save up or that for a little while.
Which area of photography would you like to explore further ? (macro, landscapes, portraits)
I really enjoy macro work because I know there is a lot to see that is very small and can be easily missed because people never really take the time to look beyond the surface. I also would like to work more on portraits. I love people’s faces and expressions and would love to capture them as well as work on my people skills at the same time.
Where do you see your photography 5 years from now?
I envision having either pulled together a few gallery shows of my macro, nature and landscape work ands/or have a portrait studio opened or at least run one from my house.
What the best advice you would give to fellow photographers?
Never stop learning, never stop looking for resources to tap into. While I would love to drop a load of coin and attend the Brooks Institute in my hometown, for me it isn’t realistic given my financial and familial obligations, so self-teaching has been the way I have had to learn. It teaches you to be resourceful and it exposes you to a myriad of different people with different ideas which helps not only with your own learning but expands your creative mind to think differently than you might otherwise think.