View Artist Statement
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Gallery Direct Interview with SHIRLEY CROSS|
Shirley takes her photography beyond a realist's perspective by manipulating and combining her subjects to produce an image with an ethereal mystical beauty. Her fine art photographs are awe-inspiring and go beyond what is normally expected or anticipated.
At what age did you have an interest in photography and when did you decide it was something you wanted to pursue as an art form?
I was interested from a very early age, perhaps 10, but did not pursue it as a serious art form until around 1984.
Whose work has inspired you the most and in what way?
My first great inspiration was Galen Rowell, the nature and adventure photographer, because he made wonderful photos using a 35mm camera and not a medium or large format so I knew it was possible. Secondly, Jerry Uelsmann, who created magnificent surreal darkroom composites long before computer manipulation was prevalent. Also, I enjoy the paintings of Maxfield Parrish.
What formal or informal training have you found most useful during your career?
I learned mostly on my own through reading and experimenting. Later, I took the New York Institute of Photography course, which fine-tuned my skills. Of course, I am always learning.
Do you still use your Nikon N90 exclusively or do you also have a digital camera? If so, which one?
I still use my Nikon N90. Cannot afford a digital camera right now, and I have a high-end film scanner.
What advantages/disadvantages are there to using a digital camera versus film?
I believe there are wonderful advantages to the high quality digital cameras available now. For one thing, you can see immediately how your photos turn out and make any necessary changes right away, instead of having to wait for film processing. Also, in the long run, digital is much more cost-effective. No buying film, no paying for film processing.
Has digital photography made any kind of impact on your work? If so, in what way?
In the sense of being able to put my photos in the computer and create new visions...tremendous impact!
How important of a role does the computer play in your work and what special software would you recommend for photographers?
The computer plays a huge role in that my photo creations would be next to impossible without it. I use two simple and inexpensive software programs: Microsoft Picture It, which I've pushed beyond what most people think possible, and MGI Photosuite III, which has some extra features that Picture It does not. However, I plan on learning Photoshop soon, and highly recommend that software as the standard.
Many of your pieces are combinations of different photographs that you have used to create your final image. When you are out doing a shoot, do you take images with a final artwork in mind or do your ideas come to you later?
Sometimes I have something specific in mind, sometimes not.
Many of your pieces have a surreal or mystical feel to them. What role do you think your emotions play in your creative process?
Oh, my emotions play a major role in my creations. I was brought up on the classics and fairytales, and I am by nature an extremely romantic person. I love fine music, well, music of all kinds, and poetry.
As a photographic artist, do you feel you perceive the world differently from other people?
Yes, I 'see' differently than the average person. I think most artists do. Although, each in his or her own way.
How would you describe "Fine Art Photography"?
That is a difficult question, and can vary with the viewer's perception. It does not necessarily mean manipulated, but it can. The most important thing about any art work, is how does it affect the viewer's emotions...what impact does it have?
What has been your greatest success and your biggest setback during your career as a photographer, and what advice would you give to aspiring photographers?
I've won many lovely awards both locally and internationally, and I do sell my prints from time to time. However, photography is such a passion...an obsession...that I would have to do it, no matter what. If I don't get my photo 'fix' on a regular basis, I feel something is missing. So, to the aspiring photographers, don't expect to make a living at it, even though a fortunate few do. But if you feel the passion, pursue it, learn all you can, and just enjoy yourselves. Never be afraid to break the rules, experiment and try new things.
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