June 27, 2011

Interview: Susan Tuttle

Susan Tuttle's photography invites you into her daily life, but you will feel as if you're walking within a dream.  She captures and edits her photos so beautifully, you can't help but stare into each one and wonder about the story it tells.  I am enamored with her work and so beyond thrilled to introduce her to you.  Please meet:

-Take me back and tell me a bit about how you became interested in photography and how the medium began to play a more important role in your creative life.

For my ninth birthday I received a Kodak 110 camera with attachable flash packs -- remember those? As I looked through the viewfinder I began to feel the stirrings and flutterings of my love for photography -- I'd capture flowers, hot air balloons, animals and portraits of friends and family. I could feel my eye for photography and my love of composition unearthing and emerging as I framed my world through the camera. I was disappointed, however, when my printed film came back looking less than stellar, bearing little or no likeness to what I had seen through the little plastic square of my camera. The limitations of the equipment eventually put a hold on my love of this art form.

I did not embrace the art of photography until 2003, when my son was born and we were gifted with a Nikon Coolpix 5700 -- of course, he was the best subject matter and he immediately sparked that deep, inherent love of photography in me that has been growing and evolving ever since. I now shoot with a Canon EOS 450D and am in love with my macro and zoom lenses. I have recently become totally addicted to iPhoneography (taking photos with an iPhone or iPod Touch) and posting these pics/viewing others work on Instagram.

Photo by: Susan Tuttle

-I'm interested in how your digital photo editing process developed.  You create both digital art pieces and dreamy enhanced photos.  Did you have any formal graphic arts training or did you take the time to learn and teach yourself?

I am a self-taught photographer and digital artist. I rely mostly on my inner knowings when I take pictures -- shooting from the gut, most likely breaking all the rules:) When I see something special I wish to capture, I can literally feel my heart rise in my chest. I follow those gut instincts. Not to say that I don't think about composition, color, tonal value, etc. -- I certainly do and am meticulous about these aspects, but I seem to mostly follow an internal set of rules as opposed to ones that have been imposed upon me. I am a formally-taught flutist, so I know what it is like to be instructed to follow pocketfulls of rules and technical procedures. For me, this type of learning can crush some of my creative spirit, so with photography and digital art I made a conscious decision to have full ownership of my output and growth -- thus I am self-taught in this area. 

I taught myself Adobe Photoshop and enjoy using both Elements and Creative Suite. I currently use PSE 9.0 and CS5.

Debut:  New Digital Art by Susan Tuttle
(Image credits:  Girl, Ocean Scene, Dove, Brush: glitter brush

-Your photos are so visually appealing - it's almost as if each one tells a sacred story.  What (or who) inspires you to pick up your camera and shoot?

Thank you -- that is a very kind thing to say. Subject matter that inspires me daily includes my natural surroundings (I live in the woods in Maine, so there is plenty to feast the senses upon), my children and husband, friends, the sky, light, shadow, everyday objects (especially if they are worn and infused with character), food, landscapes... -- um, gosh -- I guess you could say that I can be inspired by almost anything I encounter. One thing I am aware of, is that I am drawn to objects that are in some form of decay -- there is beauty to be found in practically all things; not just in the vibrant, alive subject matter.

Photo by: Susan Tuttle

-What do you feel most comfortable taking photos of?  If you were to step out of that comfort zone, what would you photograph? 

I wouldn't say I have a comfort zone, necessarily -- it's more like, I am only able to shoot from the environment that surrounds me, so in some ways I am limited. I do think it would be interesting to spend more time in a city taking random candid shots of people. Iceland is a place that calls to me -- I long to photograph the landscape -- the Blue Lagoon, blue-tinged ice formations, volcanoes, rich soil and green, green flora. Someday :)

Photo by: Susan Tuttle

-Can you share the links to the photographers that inspire you or the books / courses that have helped you improve your photography skills?

Sure, here is a list of photographers and digital artists I love:  Sarah Moon, Maggie Taylor, Cig Harvey, Maura Sullivan, Rodney Smith.

Photo by: Susan Tuttle

books/publications that have inspired:

Expressive Photography: The Shutter Sisters' Guide to Shooting from the Heart
Adobe Photoshop Master Class: Maggie Taylor's Landscape of Dreams by Amy Standen
If you hit the magazine stacks at the bookstore, look through the plethora of Photoshop magazines -- I enjoy Photoshop Creative

Photo by: Susan Tuttle

There is so much good inspiration to take in here.  Thank you Susan for sharing a bit of your journey with us today.  It's been such a pleasure!

Bio:  Susan Tuttle is a photographer, digital artist, author and online Photoshop instructor who resides in a rural Maine town. She has published two books with North Light Books -- Exhibition 36: Mixed Media Demonstrations + Explorations (2008) and Digital Expressions: Creating Digital Art with Adobe Photoshop Elements (2010) and is currently working on book #3, co-authoring with Chrysti Hydeck -- the book will be a mixed-media and photography-based publication to be released by North Light Books in August 2012.

Susan teaches a series of online workshops called Visual Poetry on digital art and photomanipulation with Photoshop.

Susan invites you to connect with her through her online web spaces:  Website, Blog, -if you have an iPhone or iPod Touch, you can also connect with Susan on Instagram where her user name is ilkasatticdotcom.  If you don't have either one of those devices, you can view Susan's Instagram photos here.