Project 52/Artistry: Audience (1) – Introduction

For the next few weeks, the Project 52 group at Who We Become are going to be examining the role of the audience in our photography.  After all, what is art without someone to experience it?  That said, can worrying too much about what others will think of our work change the work and in what ways.  Does it alter how we approach our photography?  How we set up our shots?  How we edit?  What we share?  Are we driven by a desire to improve, to more clearly communicate our vision, or are we simply seeking approval?

This week we are each choosing one photo and explaining how audience was a consideration in taking, editing and sharing that picture. I took this photo of the sunrise through a wet ferry window on a foggy morning. There was no doubt in my mind that I would share it to my Instagram audience, a small band of friends, relatives and fellow photographers. The small screen size and strictly photos format of Instagram makes me willing to share more creative or unusual pictures than I would in other venues.

Sawyer Week 3-1


Project 52/Artistry: Gut check

This week is an introduction to the Artists of Who We Become. Yes, we said it, Artists. We even put a capital ‘A’ on it! Introducing ourselves as artists is pretty terrifying for most of us. It makes us vulnerable to put ourselves “out there” so boldly when we have so many questions and doubts inside. But this is the journey that we are ready to embark on and first steps can be tough.

We have spent the last few weeks exploring our fears and creating personal goals. This week each Artist has prepared a short bio including our goals and dreams for this year’s project and perhaps beyond. We will revisit this exercise a few times over the year to see where we are and how our goals have evolved. A periodic gut check to keep us always moving forward, even if we are unclear of the ultimate destination.

My choice of words to introduce myself to the group audience:

I am a full-time professional in a field far removed from photography, as well as mom to two school-aged girls. Life is a constant juggling act. I started learning about photography to better document my family, and the technical and compositional challenges captured the quantitative side of my brain. But now that I have a good handle on the foundational techniques, and have no professional aspirations in photography, what’s next?

I don’t have strongly defined personal goals for this project yet. The very title Artistry is intimidating for me, since I have never thought of myself as artistic. I expect it to be a year of exploration, which may range broadly. I hope to devote more attention to capturing breathtaking or intriguing images of natural or urban surroundings; half the battle will be to get myself to beautiful or interesting places with time to concentrate on taking photos. I hope to improve my ability to photograph people in both posed and candid settings. Most of all, I hope to work past my discomfort with sharing images publicly and committing my photos to large prints.

Below are some pictures from the pursuit of my first “hope”. They were taken on a very chilly evening over the Christmas holidays, when I took an hour to go to Sandy Hook at sunset and take pictures back toward the New Jersey Highlands and Twin Lights.

Sawyer Week 2-2

Sawyer Week 2-3Sawyer Week 2


PUSH creative challenge: Backlighting

After falling off the PUSH wagon for a few months, I’m back on track…at least for now. We are following the Clickinmoms monthly creative challenges. This month’s topic is backlight. I played with the setting sun and trees in two different locations in the last couple of weeks.

My parents’ backyard:


Push-July 2014

Push-July 2014-2

Atlantic Highlands harbor, NJ

Push-July 2014-3

Push-July 2014-4

You may have arrived here from Lisa’s blog. Click on to Michele’s site to see her creative take on backlighting.

Project 52/Framed: Creative complexity – filling the frame

While the setting is often important in a photograph, sometimes our artistic intention is to draw full attention to our subject. Filling the frame edge to edge with our subject(s) by moving closer, zooming in, or cropping the image in post-processing eliminates background distractions and forces the viewer to examine the subject in close detail. In a portrait, filling the frame with the subject—particularly close-ups of the face—can capture personality or mood that would get lost at more of a distance. Non-human subjects also benefit from this close inspection of all or part of the object. Filling the frame is often used in macro photography to isolate important details. While filling the frame is a compositional technique in itself, combining it with other techniques, such as repetition or rule of thirds, can lend even more impact to the image.



See the full collection at Who We Become.

Project 52/Framed: Creative complexity – depth of field

This month on Who We Become we are exploring some creative composition topics. Depth of field is a fundamental technical concept in photography. It refers to the amount of the field of view that is in sharp focus, and results from three factors: the lens aperture, the length of the lens, and the distance from camera to subject. In a photo with a very shallow depth of field, only a few inches—or even less—may be in focus. The blurred background that results is often considered ideal for portrait or macro photography, ensuring that the viewer’s eye is not distracted from the subject. For landscape photography, more depth of field is generally desired, so that all elements of the photo will be in focus. In this week’s post, we go beyond the basic understanding of depth of field that is typically gained in an introductory photography course and use depth of field as a creative compositional element. A shallower depth of field can bring a sense of dimension to what would otherwise be a “flat” photo, strengthening the separation of foreground and background. Alternatively, shallow depth of field can be used to bring focus to an unexpected element of the composition.  Conversely, the photographer may choose a wider depth of field combined with carefully placed background elements to create a sense of movement through the photo. Wide depth of field is also frequently used in environmental portraiture, where background elements are important to the context of the portrait.



Project 52/Framed: Classic portraiture – group

These two little nuts were the only group I had handy for this week’s group portraiture assignment. All of my attempts at formal posing this weekend turned out hideously so I’m going with a bit more of a lifestyle shot (though it did involve getting them to “pose” side by side on the slip-n-slide).


This post is part of a weekly collaborative blog project at

Project 52/Framed: Traditional contrast

In the last two weeks of Who We Become, we looked for patterns: repeated similar elements in our compositions. For the rest of March, we shift our focus to contrast. A broad definition of contrast in art is the juxtaposition of opposite elements. Contrast between adjacent elements intensifies the properties of each and adds dynamism or drama to a work of art. The most well-known application of contrast in photography is the degree of difference between dark and light elements. This week, our photographs employ contrast in this traditional sense as the foundation of our compositions.

In this photo of my husband and daughter birdwatching at Huber Woods Environmental Center, the contrast between the bright outdoors and dim indoor space throws my subjects into partial silhouette.

Click here to see the Who We Become group mosaic.