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Grand Dahlia - mystical.jpeg

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?

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. 

Great Gray Crane copy.jpeg
Contemplation copy.jpeg
Sunburst Cowgirl.jpeg

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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