August 29, 2011

Interview: Ninotchka Beavers

I was looking to explore TTV (Through the Viewfinder) photography and who better to ask than Ninotchka Beavers, who I have so enjoyed getting to know.  Through flickr and facebook, Nino shares glimpses of her everyday life, her family, and her travels from an array of cameras that she loves shooting with. Today Nino shares with me how photography fell into her creative toolbox and how she discovered TTV.  I'm so happy to welcome: 

How did you & your camera meet :) Take me back to when you first became interested in photography?
I've been interested in photography ever since I can remember. I recall being fascinated by and coveting the complete Polaroid Instant kit one of my big sisters got one Christmas in the late 70s and the SLR the same sister got later in high school. However, I didn't really start taking pictures until I was 12 or 13. I took one of those early 80s point and shoot pocket cameras on a school trip; if memory serves, that is the first film I ever had developed that was all my own. Hooked doesn't even begin to describe it.

When did you discover TTV photography?
My then new friend (now best friend) introduced me. Frankly, I thought she was a little crazy and I had no intention of trying it until she bid on and won a listing for 2 old TLR's on eBay. I paid my tiny share, named my camera "Greta," built a contraption out of a Girl Scout Cookie box and the rest, as they say is history.

I love how your artwork and photography often fall into a collective series (dots, ornament countdown). Tell me about some of the TTV series you've created and the stories behind them.
Something I've recently realized about myself is that I'm a natural collector. I've collected things I've loved (toys, writings, art, books, memories) since I was a child. I find I do this with photography. One picture, one subject just won't do. It happens very organically. I just feel myself called to group images into studies: fruitshoesthe alphabet. My tiny collections. I love them!

What lens do you typically use on your dslr when shooting TTV?  What's the best materials you've used to construct your tube contraption?
I use a 50 mm with inexpensive macro filters that screw right on to the lens. I should add that my very first TtV (the apple on my kitchen counter) was shot with a point and shoot digital set on "macro" (the little flower icon on your camera). It's still one of my favorites to this day! 

The best material I've found for my contraptions are cereal boxes. They're sturdy but not too hard to cut and manipulate. I usually use scrapbook paper and accent ribbon to decorate them but I've also used fabric and I've just acquired some Limited Edition Hello Kitty duct tape that I can't wait to play with!

Tell me a little bit how you shoot - which cameras do you carry with you most?  What inspires you to go out shooting?
Very rarely do I "go out" specifically to shoot, though I thoroughly enjoy going on photo dates with my bestie. On those shoots, we'll take specific cameras: film, Polaroids, TtV, etc. My everyday camera of choice is my iPhone4. I resisted getting an iPhone for a good year or more after they came out. I viewed "smart phones" as too expensive, frivolous and I thought the last thing in the world I needed was to be more connected. My husband got one for himself and, still, I wasn't necessarily impressed. When he got me one for my birthday later that year, I was sure I wouldn't use it to its potential. Enter my discovery of photo apps. It was a match made in heaven. I now adore iPhoneography. I shoot every day. There's always something interesting to capture and it's too easy not to!

Could you share the names and links to photographers you admire?
First and foremost, my best friend Tracy Croysdale ( She's the first "in real life" person who shared my passion for photography in a very practical, everyday sense and she has taught me pretty much everything I know. She is an incredibly generous friend and teacher. Russ Morris ( is also a huge inspiration and the TtV king as far as I'm concerned. His tutorial on TtV is the best I've seen. Even though I've never met him in person, he has become a dear friend and champion in photography. Someday I'll get to join him on one of his fabulous San Francisco TtV walks! Lastly, I'm besotted by the story of Vivian Maier ( She was truly a photographer and woman ahead of her time. What a treasure John Maloof discovered and shared with the world! Her story just to goes to show that you don't need to share your work with the world to be a photographer, you just need to love it and keep shooting. Always keep shooting.

Perfect words of advice to end with! Thank you Nino for sharing a bit of your journey here today :)


Ninotchka Beavers was born in Puerto Rico and raised in South Florida. In 1994, she moved to Dallas, TX to "play house" with her then-boyfriend, now-husband. They've been married 16 years and are the proud parents of three marvelous girls, ages 15, 9 and 5.
Ninotchka worked in the Advertising/Marketing industry for several years before choosing to stay home to raise her children. A (very) part-time student and freelance writer/publisher, her articles and essays have been published on,,, and in Pregnancy and InFertility Times magazines. She is also the independent author of the books “Twice Blessed: A Diary of Secondary Infertility” and "Through the Viewfinder ABC's."
Ninotchka's photographs have traveled to Ireland and Italy. Locally, she has participated in several group art shows. Her Through the Viewfinder work was featured on NPR's photography blog and her "In Her Shoes" series was featured in the Summer 2011 issue of Square Magazine. This summer (2011) several of her Dot Series paintings are showing in a delightful tea house in Paris, France. 
Ninotchka's greatest passions in life besides reading, gardening, party planning, running and yoga are her family and creative expression. Also? Famous Elmo cupcakes (as seen on Woman's Day Cupcakes Take the Cake and Fiesta Facil).
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urban muser said...

a great interview. i've been wanting to try TtV--it's on my list!

Paula said...

Really enjoyed this interview - adore Nino's 'green scarf' shot and the TtV technical info great too, thanks :)