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Photography as Art

by Kathleen Messmer

Photography is not just a technical skill; it’s also an art form. As a photographer, I believe that my camera is not just a tool; it is an extension of my creative self.

When I was a kid I hated going to art class because the extent of my artistic abilities was drawing stick people, and not very well at that. Consequently, when I found a camera in my hand, suddenly, I had potential as an artist…at least in my mind.

One of my favorite subjects to shoot is nature. I love how nature can surprise you with its colors, textures, and patterns. I try to capture the essence of nature in my photographs to evoke the feelings of peace, wonder, and awe that I experience when I’m in nature. Occasionally, I turn those shots into abstracts using apps on my phone.


When I approach photography as an art form, I look for the beauty in the mundane, the extraordinary in the ordinary. I try to find unique perspectives, angles, and compositions that can turn a simple subject into a work of art. 

But I also enjoy experimenting with abstract photography in-camera. I use light, shadows, reflections, and shapes to create surreal, dreamy, and sometimes eerie images that challenge the viewer's perception of reality to the point that they’re asking themselves, “What the hell is that?” I find that abstract photography allows me to express my emotions and thoughts in a more subjective and personal way. And the beauty of it is the viewer has the power to make it whatever they want it to be in their mind.

Photography is not just about the technical aspects of exposure, aperture, and shutter speed. It's about the creative choices we make, the stories we tell, and the emotions we evoke. As a photographer, I feel privileged to be able to capture moments of beauty, to freeze time, and to share my vision of the world with others.  How about you? What’s your story?

Come and join us on one of the outings or, on one of the Weekday Wanderings, or in one of the portfolio groups. It’s fun, you’ll learn something about yourself and your photography that you may not have known before. Where else can you find yourself and explore your talent for free?


Another New Year, More Great Opportunities

By Kathleen Messmer

And so it begins…another new year to take advantage of a clean slate. We all make New Year's resolutions, but how about we resolve to refine our craft this year? Learn or explore something new, and recollect on the past while planning for the future. How about capturing new memories through photography? As we enter 2024, it's an excellent opportunity to explore more of the world of photography and see what new techniques, equipment, and trends will emerge.

For example, one such trend or technique that is relatively new is using artificial intelligence in photography. That's not to say you have to use it. It's merely a tool in your toolbox. AI-powered editing software can help photographers enhance their images quickly and efficiently. With AI, photographers can adjust lighting, color, and other elements to create stunning images in seconds.


As we move into the new year, it's important to remember that photography is not just about equipment and technology. It's about capturing moments, telling stories, and sharing experiences with others. Whether you are a professional photographer or a hobbyist, embrace your creativity, experiment with new techniques, and always keep learning.

So, grab your camera, explore the world around you, and make some fantastic images you can look back on for years. Then, come and join us for the annual LaJolla outing. What a blast that is! Also, consider signing up for one of the 2024 portfolio groups. Both the outings and the portfolio groups are open to all members. You just have to sign up.

Lastly, we are implementing a weekly "meet-up" type outing where it's not necessarily an outing, just an opportunity to get out and shoot. It's called "Weekday Wanderings". We'll meet at at the  location and head out with our gear. So, speak up if you have somewhere you're dying to go to shoot. We'd all love to hang out!

Happy New Year and happy shooting!

The History of Christmas Photography

By Kathleen Messmer

With Christmas just around the corner, I did a little research on Christmas photography. I was surprised to discover that Christmas photography dates back to the Victorian era. During that time, photography had become more accessible to the general public, and families began documenting their holiday celebrations with photographs. They often visited a professional photographer's studio to have their portrait taken before a festive backdrop.


As photography technology progressed, families began taking photos of their own Christmas celebrations at home. This included capturing the excitement of opening presents, the joy of spending time with immediate and extended family, and the beauty of holiday decorations. With the rise of social media, Christmas photography has become even more prevalent, and for the most part, families share their holiday photos online for everyone to see.

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But, in recent years, there has been a trend towards more creative and personalized Christmas photos. Families are incorporating props, dressing up in costumes, and staging elaborate holiday scenes for their photos. Some even hire professional photographers to capture their holiday memories more creatively and artistically.


No matter how Christmas photography has evolved since the Victorian era, one thing remains constant — the importance of capturing and preserving holiday memories for generations to cherish for years to come.


So come and join us for the Christmas Caravan on the evening of December 10th. We’ll begin our adventure at South Coast Winery and end in Old Town. Bundle up. It promises to be chilly.

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The Impact of Photography on Mental Health: How Taking Pictures Can Improve Your Well-Being

By Kathleen Messmer

When you go out to photograph, do you “get in the zone”?  Totally focused on what you want to accomplish or just out there shooting willy-nilly?  No judgment.  It’s just something to think about. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve nearly stepped off a rock into a deep crack or into a river because I wasn’t paying attention to my environment, only what was in front of my lens. So, I guess that qualifies.

As humans, we constantly seek ways to express ourselves and to capture the beauty of the world around us, and photography is just one of the most popular ways of doing that. Plus, it has been proven to have a positive impact on our mental health.

Taking photos or creating art, whether it’s with your smartphone or a professional camera, can help you to feel more connected to the world around you. It allows you to capture moments that you may have otherwise missed, moments that will never be again, and to appreciate the beauty in everyday life.

In addition to increasing mindfulness and awareness of the present moment, photography has also been shown to reduce stress and anxiety — and who couldn’t use that in these crazy, uncertain times? The act of taking photos can be a meditative practice, allowing you to focus on the present moment and forget about your worries — or the river that’s rushing by.

Furthermore, photography can be a form of self-expression, allowing you to communicate your feelings and emotions in a visual way. This can be especially beneficial for those who have difficulty expressing themselves verbally.

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Photography can also be a social activity, bringing people together and fostering a sense of community. Sharing your photos with others, whether it’s on social media, in person, or in a club environment, can be a great way to connect with others and receive feedback on your work, which, in turn, helps you grow.

So, all in all, photography has a positive impact on mental health, allowing us to connect with the world around us, reduce stress and anxiety, express ourselves, and connect with others. So go ahead, pick up your camera, and join us for one or more of our outings. It’s a really fun way to spend the day, maybe learn something you didn’t know before, and get to know your fellow club members. Come on out, you know you want to!

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When I shot film, I was more of a planner, but now, with digital, I plan less but still don’t spray and pray.  I always consider what I’m after and let nature handle the rest. Even if I never get a shot of what I thought I was going after that day, I always get something. And that’s ok with me because it’s always a delightful surprise. Surprises are good.


Is it raining? Cool. Is it foggy? Even better. Are you going to the beach? Do you want to get there at the crack of dawn or golden hour for a sunrise/sunset? Do you want to do some long-exposure photography? What about surfers? Sealife? Sailboats? Piers? People? Food when you go to breakfast after an early morning shoot? What is your passion?


Photography is so much more about inspiration than just pointing a lens at a subject and hoping for the best. It’s about what YOU love. It doesn’t matter what everyone else does. Do you. Make your passion, your inspiration, your own. Oh, and have fun. Fun is good, too.

What Inspires You?

By Kathleen Messmer

I love Monet’s work. Not only was he a great master, he was very closely aligned with nature. One of my favorite quotes from him is, “I have no other wish than to mingle more closely with nature.”  That’s probably why I photograph more nature than anything else.


Monet is one of my many inspirations, along with Cunningham, Blossfeldt, and O’Keeffe, all of whom inform my work to an enormous degree.  Even the abstracts I create are full of color and, more often than not, are variations of flowers, trees, or plants that no longer look like any of those things once I'm done with them.  Such is art.


So, what inspires you?  Are you a spray and pray kind of photographer who doesn’t care what you shoot as long as you get something, or are you more of a planner, a shot list kind of guy or gal who plans everything to the inth degree?


By Kathleen Messmer

The first thing people ask me when I tell them I’m a photographer is, what do you shoot? Well, the standard answer I give is usually Fine Art. No one knows what that means, so they tell me that’s cool and go about doing whatever they were doing before they asked the question. But amazing things can happen when we push ourselves outside of our comfort zone. 

I learned this lesson during a National Geographic photography workshop that challenged me to stretch my boundaries and try new things. Despite my initial nerves, I walked away from the experience with a newfound sense of confidence and a collection of stunning images. 

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Since then, I've continued to explore new areas of photography, from artistic nudes (where I was the only female in the class) to wild horse photography (without getting trampled by the wild herd!). It's been an incredible journey, and I've discovered that the possibilities are endless when we're open to trying everything, even if we think we’re not interested in the subject matter. 

So here’s my thinking…when someone asks me what I shoot, I proudly answer “EVERYTHING!" because I know that anything is possible if we're willing to step outside our comfort zone.  Try it, you’ll like it.

"Picture-Perfect: Exploring Areas of Photography to Improve Your Craft” 

By Kathleen Messmer

As a photographer, there are countless things you can learn 

to improve your craft. Whether you're just starting out or 

you've been shooting for years, there's always something 

new to discover. Here are just a few areas of photography 

that you may want to explore.


First and foremost, it's essential to master the technical 

aspects of photography. This includes understanding your 

camera's settings, such as aperture, shutter speed, and ISO. By learning how to manipulate 

these settings, you can achieve the desired exposure and depth of field for your images. 

Additionally, understanding lighting and how to use it to your advantage is crucial for capturing 

high-quality photos.


Another area of photography to focus on is composition. This involves thinking about the 

placement of your subject within the frame and the overall visual flow of the image. A well-

composed photograph can make a massive difference in the final result.


In addition to technical skills and composition, it's also important to develop your own personal 

style as a photographer. This can involve experimenting with different types of photography, 

such as landscape, portrait, abstract, or street photography. It can also involve finding unique 

ways to capture your subjects or using post-processing techniques to enhance your images.

Finally, as with any creative pursuit, continuing learning and growing as a photographer is 

always recommended. This may mean seeking out new inspiration, taking workshops,  

classes, or simply practicing your craft on a regular basis. By staying curious and open-

minded, you can continue to develop your skills and create truly stunning photographs.


So take a second and really look at or think about what you want to learn or improve upon.  

Then, attend one of our Education Nights or Casual Critique to see what’s up and get some 

feedback on your work. There’s always a nugget or two you may happen upon, even if you 

think you know everything there is to know about that particular subject. Join us! You’ll be glad you did.

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