EWW: I am curious to know if someone was asked to make a comment about your work as a whole, what do you think they would say?
Celeste: In general they might say I see things others would miss, or that I have the ability to create art from unexpected subjects. People have made both of those comments to me on several occasions. When it comes to my flower photography, in particular, they might say that many of my floral portraits are distinctly mine, taken from an unexpected angle perhaps, offering a somewhat abstract interpretation, or revealing something different from other people’s photos of particular flowers. For example, the manager of a gift shop that sells my floral greeting cards has told me she loves my flower photos because my interpretations are unique, sensitive and revealing.
EWW: What would be your comments about your work, as a whole?
Celeste: My work is frequently inspired by and based in nature, with flowers being my first photographic love going back to my film photography years. The underlying reality is that I respond to curves, shapes, lines, colors, patterns and textures not only in nature but in manmade objects as well. I am always trying to get at the essence of some object that appeals to me and to communicate that essence to viewers of my photograph.
EWW: What photographer/digital artist, past or present, has been an inspiration to you and your work? Why?
Celeste: One of my greatest artistic inspirations is Georgia O’Keeffe, who of course was neither a photographer nor a digital artist. Her flower paintings are a strong influence because I connect deeply with her emotional portrayals of curves, lines, and color in nature. My favorite O’Keefe quotation: “I found I could say things with color and shapes that I couldn’t say any other way – things I had no words for.”
Among photographers, I am especially inspired by David duChemin. I have read many of his books, and I love that he cares about vision and expression above all and doesn’t give a hoot what kind of gear you use. To my way of thinking, he has his priorities straight. Some of my most gratifying photo sessions have been influenced by creativity exercises David suggests in his books such as The Visual Imagination. Another favorite photo author who has inspired me is Mark S. Johnson, particularly for his imaginatively sensuous explorations of plants and flowers in Botanical Dreaming.
I am also inspired by regular interaction with my fellow photographers as well as artists in traditional media at Redbubble.com. The brave risk-takers there have encouraged me to be bolder and more willing to experiment with my photography and my digital art explorations in painterly directions.
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EWW: What do you look for in deciding on what to shoot or what digital image you decide to continue working with?
Celeste: I sometimes give myself an assignment, such as “intentional camera movement,” or “urban patterns and textures,” but I usually head for an appealing spot and allow myself to settle into the place and observe mindfully. If I’m in the right emotional space, my photo subjects tend to find me. Lately, I’ve also been doing some tabletop photography because I’m blessed with north window light in my kitchen. Having that wonderful natural light has encouraged me to experiment with glassware, gadgets, vegetables, and whatever else strikes my fancy at a particular moment. One morning I delayed breakfast because I was fascinated with the patterns made by eggs and milk as they met in a glass pie plate.
I upload files from memory card to computer after every photo session, and I nearly always sort, rank, and add keywords at that time. I may work with one or more images immediately, but most may sit for a time until I want to work on a particular subject or technique. Then I search by keywords and see what appeals to me at that moment. I might even go back to an image from several years ago because I just learned some new technique from a webinar that I think might be a good new direction for that photo. Processing an older photo in a new way can tell you a lot about how much you’ve learned and improved since you first processed it.
EWW: Excluding subject matter, are there themes that consistently run from one work to the other such as colors, perspective, lighting, movement, style, etc.?
Celeste: My favorite themes are curves and edges (especially petal edges), and where I go from there depends on my mood and the feeling I get from a particular photo subject — I may go soft or hard with those curves and edges. Light is another favorite theme. Like most photographers, I am always aware of the direction and quality of light. I love working with backlight on translucent subjects, and I also love natural light on overcast days (the big softbox in the sky).
EWW: What do you see, or have experienced, as the most effective way for you to market and promote you and your work?
Celeste: On a local and personal level, I participate in competitions and am known as a regular visitor at various public gardens in my area (and a photo contributor to garden newsletters). I’ve made many contacts over the years, and those have led to my work being promoted in gallery shows and gift shops, for example. I also enter some international competitions, and any placement in those is a great promotional boost for my work. My best result to date was having two photographs chosen as Grand Finalists in the 2013 “Gardens in Focus” contest and being part of the resulting 2014 gallery show at the Royal Botanic Garden of Sydney, Australia.
I’ve had an online photographic presence for some years, starting with Flickr in 2004 (a passive presence from a marketing standpoint, yet one that has led to photos being licensed for use in books and to a British magazine feature on my work). Since 2011 I’ve been an active and enthusiastic member of the artist community at Redbubble, a “print on demand” site where my sales have grown each year and my interactions with fellow artists have been truly inspirational.
For me, participating and creating seem to be my best marketing tools.
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EWW: What is your philosophy about social Media. Do you use social media platforms to market and promote your work? If you do, which social media platform seems to work the best for you?
Celeste: For me, social media is a mix of blessing and curse. The blessing is potential exposure to people who may not have seen my work before, while the curse is that sites such as Facebook can be such a time-sink and a distraction from one’s creative efforts. I maintain a presence on Facebook and promote there because I feel I must; the benefits have been real but minimal.
EWW: Just to wrap up this interview, do you have any final thoughts about you and your work that you think would be important for others to know about?
Celeste: Don’t expect me to stand still. I am constantly learning and experimenting, both with my camera and with post-processing and digital art techniques. That means in a few months I may be trying something entirely different from the works you see accompanying this interview, and I consider that willingness to experiment as a positive. I will leave you with a personally meaningful quote from George Bernard Shaw: “We don’t stop playing because we grow old. We grow old because we stop playing.”
Website Celeste: http://celestem.redbubble.com/