Welcome to Poetics! This is Mish, your host. Today I would like to introduce you to the photography of Sharon Knight. She captures the subtle beauty of the midwest with her lovely rural scenes. The intricacy and warm glow of her macros has always inspired me. For this reason, I thought it would be interesting to take a closer look at her photos for penning a poem. Sharon has kindly given us permission to borrow her images at sunearthsky.com for our poetic muse today. Please give proper image credit to her work.
Sharon also agreed to answer some interview questions about her work via email. Enjoy!!
How did you first become involved in photography?
I’ve always had a good eye for composition and liked taking pictures. I became serious about the hobby in 2013 when I started a photoblog of mobile photography–that is, all the images had to be shot on a cell phone. This was limiting and freeing at the same time. It forced me to concentrate on composition, and it was a good way to learn what I liked shooting. After six months, I was ready to try something new and bought my first DSLR.
Can you share with us some of the techniques or equipment you use?
I keep it simple. I used a Nikon D3200 for four years and loved it. About a year ago, I upgraded to a Nikon D7200 because I wanted something with better low-light sensitivity, since I don’t use a flash. I have five Nikon lenses: 18-200, 60, 35, 50, 18-55. I shoot handheld using only natural light, either in aperture priority or manual settings, and I always shoot in RAW.
Learning the technology of the DSLR and then how to process the images to bring my vision to life was the hardest part of the journey. For some, the technology is everything. For me, it was a necessary evil–one I had to learn to get where I want. My blog reflects this journey, and I’m glad to have those early images out there to remind me how far I’ve come.
I keep the poetry of Mary Oliver near my bedside all the time. She is inspired by her natural surroundings, and I relate to that. I love the paintings of Andrew Wyeth. As far as photographers, I admire Sally Mann’s work very much. Her images are evocative and ethereal. Personally, I find peace through walks in the woods, drives in the countryside, the sun streaming across a field or pasture, grey skies, and wide open landscapes with endless possibility.
I am drawn to visually appealing and striking compositions that are out of the ordinary in some way. The rural Midwest isn’t a place most people think of as typically beautiful. My job is to show them the unseen and unappreciated beauty they might otherwise overlook.
Can you tell us about your published work or other places it has been featured?
The most recent was being selected as an Editor’s Pick and featured artist on Discover WordPress. That was quite an honor and brought a lot of traffic to my site. I am also a contributing Midwest artist to Farmboy Fine Arts, an art consultancy firm based in Vancouver. My work has appeared in the Fifth Wednesday Journal, the Neville Public Museum in Green Bay, and the National Wetlands Program in Washington, D.C.
Locally, I’ve had two solo shows and currently have an ongoing, rotating exhibit in a local restaurant. I try to participate in local and national juried competitions when I can. I also participate in local art fairs where I sell calendars and framed as well as unframed work.
What do you think makes a good photo stand out from the average photo?
Good composition is key. I love images that evoke an emotional response. I admire technical perfection, but I would rather feel something than see pretty.
Do you have a favorite photo or one with a special meaning to you?
The first photo on my blog, “Landscape Layers” holds special meaning. Although it’s simple and technically flawed, I see the spark of what I wanted to do. I look at that image and see how far I’ve come in five years.
The blog itself is a visual diary, but the first couple years’ images hold the most emotion. I was learning the art. Everything was exciting and new. I remember every shot and what was happening in my life at the time. My mother passed away about a year ago, and many of the images I got while driving the 2.5 hour trip to visit her on weekends. I would take side trips to remote and rural areas. Sometimes, I would take her with me on drives through the country, which she loved. Shortly before she died, she picked her favorite images and together we bought frames for them. She sat and watched me frame the prints, then made sure I hung them properly in the foyer of her assisted living facility. So, there is a small display of my work in a lovely senior facility in a small Midwestern town, because of her.