View Artist Statement
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Gallery Direct Interview with CYNTHIA FLEURY|
Cynthia’s photographs impart a sense of beauty and quiet serenity. As a former painter in oils she approaches her photography on an artistic and intuitive level rather than technical. She captures the beauty around her through the interplay of color, light and composition both in her color and black and white images.
At what point in your life did you realize that art was an integral part of your being?
I am not sure that I would recognize when it occurred, since I have been drawing since I was a small child. I have always had an artistic outlet in my life. When I was raising my children, there was no time for drawing or painting. However, my daughter was a figure skater so my artistic outlet was designing and creating figure skating costumes.
Your education in the arts is extensive. Could you tell us what formal or informal education has been most useful to you as a photographer?
All of my education has in one way or another been useful. My early education as a chemist exposed me to chemicals so creating a chemical darkroom to process my images was not a challenge for me. I have studied many art forms throughout my life at art schools in Wisconsin and Minnesota. I have studied watercolor, oils, pastels, charcoal, and acrylics. Each form is different and I love them all. When you look at the world with the perspective of an artist, you see an entirely different place. Education just tells you how to do it technically, but how you view the world as an artist comes from other artists and feedback on your own art.
I understand you were a painter before you became a photographer. Could you tell us why you decided to pursue photography as a career?
I was very disappointed in my photography of my children in their activities. I decided it was time to do something about it and signed up for classes as Minneapolis College of Art and Design. I realized that photography was another art form and delved into it in great depth in the chemical darkroom and later in the digital darkroom.
During your career as a photographer, who or what has given you the most inspiration and whose work do you relate to the most?
Originally it was Ansel Adams in black and white. My photography professor at Minneapolis College of Art and Design asked what I was going to do to be different. I took a couple of years to think about it and decided that artistic photography was to be my focus. This was before digital and it took quite a bit of darkroom and in and on camera work to accomplish. My inspiration now comes from other artists and from feedback from my peers and clients.
Having been a painter first, do you feel you approach your photography differently than other photographers? If so, in what way?
As a painter, I appreciate the look and feel of the paint on the canvas. I often wonder if I can in some way put paint on my photos to create a more painterly effect. I have used the paint tools in software to paint on my images where needed, but I am not to the point where I am happy with it yet. My peers tell me that my images look like paintings and that makes me happy since that is the effect I am trying to achieve.
In your opinion, what elements are required to make a good photograph and how would you describe a “Fine Art” photograph.
In my opinion an image that is interesting, well composed and evokes a positive emotional response is a good “Fine Art” photograph. I don’t equate “Fine Art” photography with documentary or photojournalism. I believe they are two different categories. I equate “Fine Art: photography more with the painters of beauty rather than photography of hard core negative realism. Fine art is something that I want to put on my wall and look at day in and day out and be refreshed, not shocked by it.
As an artist/photographer do you feel you perceive the world differently than most people?
Clearly I do. I believe that an artist must see the world differently or they are not an artist. I get up early to enjoy the twilight before sunrise and I stay up late to see the aspen glow after sunset. I always notice the atmosphere and the cloud formations. Certain cloud formations and light make great infrared photographs. I try to take advantage of those times. Sometimes infrared and color occur at the same time and I need to do more than one image. I also look for good composition constantly. When the light is good, my mind goes crazy with compositional possibilities. If I am at an event where I cannot photograph, I am clearly disturbed that I cannot get out there with my camera.
Could you tell us what subject matter you enjoy shooting the most and why it’s your favorite?
I love beauty whether it is in a landscape, cityscape, seascape, a flower or a situation. Anything that lifts my spirit and attracts me emotionally is fair game.
When you go out in the field to photograph do you find you photograph at certain times of day to achieve certain effects?
I mostly enjoy the golden hours of twilight and the aspen glow of the evening sunset. Midday I shoot infrared if there is a clear day with clouds or blue sky. If it is cloudy, waterfalls and non sky images are best since waterfalls require a slow shutter speed for the silkiness to appear and flowers and leaves are more saturated and detailed in diffused light.
Has digital photography made any kind of impact on your work with regards to your camera and computer/software that you use?
Absolutely! The chemical darkroom was dismantled and I set up a digital lab and studio. I had to learn new software like Photoshop and Lightroom. I bought substantial amounts of computer equipment and memory and internal and external hard disk drives to store all of the very large images. I bought a large archival pigment printer to print my own images rather than outsource to a lab (i.e., I am very particular about what I see is what I get).
What would you say has been your biggest challenge during your career as a painter/photographer?
There are a couple of things: 1) I have to focus on one thing or one type of portfolio. It has been difficult because my interests are so wide and varying and I am still struggling with going back to painting which to me is much easier and less technical. 2) There is also the perception that anyone can do photography if they have the equipment. Photography is the only art form where the image is attributed to the equipment rather than to the artist. The finest paintbrush or the Stradivarius violin does not make an artist or musician. It takes years of study and mastery of the art. Photography is no different, but the perception that it is easy is there.
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