July 25, 2011

Interview: Graciel Evenstar

I'm so excited to share this next interview with photographer, Graciel Evenstar.  Graciel and I were in class together for the Unravelling ecourse.  She was open to listening and always there to encourage, a kind voice that stood out within a big group.  I'm so happy that we've connected again and I'm super delighted to feature her soulful, creative work here at 52 Photos Project.

Can you remember when photography began to play a more important role in your creative life? Could you describe that time for me, specifically when you realized that taking photos was no longer just a hobby, but something you felt a deeper passion for?

In the late 1990's, when I had a 35mm film camera, I used it as a tool for calming myself and for artistic meditation. I would walk through the woods, stalk an abandoned horse farm and troll through country ditches taking photos of flowers and trees and unclaimed bridles. I would compose a little piece of art in the lens and snap away, all the while leaving the world to fend for itself. It was rejuvenating. But I never developed the pictures. Eventually, I threw 25 rolls of film away, knowing the effort had served its purpose to ground me.

Then, in 2005, I started a blog just as I was headed to Northern Germany to visit family. With a 3.5 megapixel pocket digital, I documented my journey to Berlin and the North Sea. It was there my soul was pulled awake one step at a time through the lens. From  that time on, the digital camera became a tool for documenting my viewpoint and my artistic vision of the world. The cheap, easy and instant nature of digital photography was everything I didn't know I was waiting for.

What do you feel most comfortable taking photos of?  If you could step outside of your comfort zone for a day, tell me what you would photograph?

I am most comfortable taking picture of nature and things: flowers, always flowers, architecture, serendipitous textures, the pretty side and the not-so-pretty side of nature. (If you see someone crouching on the side of the road taking pictures of something that has died, it's probably me.)

People pictures are outside my comfort zone. Candids are okay, but purposeful, posed images are a rare thing in my collection. I find few people truly comfortable in front of a lens, myself included. But Bella, I think I shall give it a try...

Imagine in your mind's eye the most beautiful picture you haven't yet taken.  What does that photo look like?

A bird in flight seen from the viewpoint of also being in flight right next to the bird. A formation of Canada geese or the great blue heron.

Describe for me your process.  Do you carry your camera with you at all times or do you take it with you when the mood calls for it?  Do you have a post editing process to enhance your photos or do you prefer SOOC (straight our of the camera).

I carry my camera on most days because lighting and opportuntiy strike quickly and unexpectedly when your love is art, nature and documentation.

I have no editing process. I haven't the patience (so far) to figure out Photoshop, so there is no cropping~ the image is framed in the viewfinder on the spot~ and there is no color adjustment~ the lighting and focus of the moment is what I get. A bit of an old-fashioned approach to the digital age, called straight-out-of-the-camera.

Tell me a bit about your magazine, Soul In Bloom.  How did the idea come about and how did you bring the project to fruition?

For 4 years, I have had readers of my blog ask me to put my essays in book form. I write to uplift and encourage and remind people (myself included) of the presence of their best selves. After 5 years of essays and photos, I felt I had enough material to make my offerings 3 dimensional. Magazines are my weekly obsession, so I decided to follow my heart and make a series of 4 keepsake magazines for 2011.

The Soul In Bloom series follows the 4 seasons in its images and content. In a busy life, this has been a challenge and a labor of love to follow through on. Once I setteld on a spacious, colorful and clean approach to the design of the series, my confidence rose and I reached out to Kelly of The Blue Muse for help in transferring my layout and design to a publishing/ pdf format. The feedback from people who have taken a chance on my offering has been breathtaking and humbling. The magazines have turned into more than I could have hoped for. The Autumn issue is my summer's muse.

Can you share any names or links to photographers you admire or who have helped you improve your skills?

Lisa at the blog Curious Girl has inspired me with her color-soaked and unique-perspective photographs since I found her. She has a consistent and appealing look all her own. She oozes true-to-yourself sensibilities in her art.

Debi at the blog Emmatree is a masterful story teller in her words and the pure-art images she creates with her camera. She knows how to work the Photoshop juju like nobody I've seen.

Anna Williams Photography for unrivaled food and still life photography. When I grow up, I wanna take pictures like Anna.

Gregory Colbert and his incomparible Ashes and Snow. He had me at the elephants.

Graciel, thank you so much for sharing a bit of your journey here today. You inspire me to dig deeper within my own creative process. Much love!

Bio:  Graciel Evenstar is a professional floral designer, writer, nature freak and tea addict. She makes magazines and is in love with her not-quite-ready-for-slr finepix s8100 camera. You can connect with her via her blog and her magazine, Soul in Bloom.

*All of the photos were posted with permission by: Graciel Evenstar


kelly@thebluemuse said...

lovely, lovely graciel. i was so happy to work on her magazine, so filled with love and beauty and the grace that embodies her very soul. and i am always amazed by her sooc photos, she has such a wonderful eye.
thanks for sharing this here!

lisa said...

"a kind voice that stood out within a big group" is such a perfect way to describe graciel. she is one to listen to and watch and learn from and be comforted by. i just love her so.

i'd not seen her photo of the cats in the doorways before...breathtaking! i imagine her stopping short at the scene and love just pouring from her. i'm sure she said aloud, "good afternoon friends."

d smith kaich jones said...

Graciel throwing out that undeveloped film makes me smile so big - I love that, love that the act of photographing was what she needed, not the photos themselves, and that she knew that. Her intuition is something to be trusted. She is a questioner and a believer, and indeed a kind voice. Her kind heart goes without saying.

Her images tell the tale of her life.

Thanks so much for this.

Anonymous said...

Thank you SO much for this introduction! I am impressed and thrilled with her SOOC skills ... love that she doesn't post-process.

Will be a new follower (and fan) of her! Thanks Bella!

Graciel said...

Dear Bella,

Thank you from the bottom of my heart for the sweet interview and the project as a whole.

Love, Graciel

Anonymous said...

Graciel IS all those things and more. She embodies kindness and talent and well, she's just REAL.

You've gotta like that. In this medium it's often hard to sift through the chaf and find real people. When I met Graciel for lunch and photography in Niagara-on-the-Lake a few years back we connected as kindreds. She truly is a gift to this internet and this world.

Gillian from dreamingPress

deb did it said...

I am so happy to know just a bit more about you Graciel...I kinda adore you

Anonymous said...

Wow, what a wonderful interview.
Your pictures are magical. I am now wondering where you live. I have lived in Turkey for 2 years and speak some turkish as well. So the first picture and a two pictures on your blog made me wonder if you are so fortunate to live in Turkey as well? It was by far the most wonderful experience in my life to live there.
The picture of the perfume bottles reminds me of Germany (4711 the smell that both of my grandmothers used from the day they were young girls to the ends of their lives). This was almost like the magic in the bottle for them. It helped with headaches, fainting, nausea and I ma sure many other things.
Thank you for these wonderful reminders through your pictures.
Love from Eva

Graciel said...

I have been to Istanbul twice in the past 2 years. It was a photographer's dream with all the colors and cultural wonders. The cats were near the Galata tower. How lucky for you to have lived there!!

And the 4711? It was a staple in my Oma's cologne collection. :)

Your blog is beautiful, Eva.

Love, Graciel

Pierre BOYER said...

I particulary love the cat's picture...
Enjoy your day !
Greetings from France,