What's your background in photography?
My interest in photography was sparked when I was about 10 years old by an enlightened schoolteacher who set up a make-shift darkroom in our classroom. I was fascinated by seeing a print emerge but opportunities to train as a photographer were absent as we lived in a remote rural area so I trained as a dietitian.
I’m now retired and live on the Kapiti Coast. My love of the countryside inspired me to pick up a camera again, I wanted to be able to capture the ever-changing mood of the landscape around me.
I love being creative and learning new things - new techniques, new processes. I am not afraid of failure when I try new things and I think that helps to embolden me when it comes to photography.
How would you define your photographic style?
In a word - probably eclectic!
I try to photograph what I feel rather than what I see. Sometimes in a landscape, I just sit there for a while absorbing what I see and how it makes me feel. I like to add something that takes the image beyond representational.
Do you edit your images?
For my still life photos, I often add a texture and also play around/experiment with different effects in Nik software or Topaz.
From your point of view, what makes a good Still Life photo?
I think that it has to be beautiful in some way and there should be some element of the photographer’s personality.
What is the hardest part of taking photographs?
Perhaps getting inspiration, knowing where to start. I also think a good knowledge of lighting helps and for me that is an area where I need more skill.
What advice would you give to people just starting photography?
Spend time looking at other photographs in your chosen genre to get inspiration. I don’t mean copy them, instead, get ideas then put your own interpretation and style
Tell us about the competitions you’ve had success with...
I have had several ‘nominations’ over the years with photos I’ve entered into the International Color Awards and in 2019 I won the whole Food - Amateur section which was a huge surprise - someone texted me that I had won (nearly a year after entering) and I thought they must have made a mistake!
I have also had various acceptances and a couple of bronze medals in the north Shore Salon, acceptances in the PSNZ National Exhibition and other similar salons.
Do you have any favorite photos?
The images which I am most pleased with I have managed to “prevision” after having started with an idea and then doing a fair bit of research.
My favourite photo is of the cape gooseberries, the image which won the amateur food section at the International Color Awards. It turned out just as I had previsioned. For me, whether or not an image does well in a competition is generally not all that important although when something does really well it is a bonus!
To make the Cape Gooseberries photo I placed a sheet of black velvet over a 60cm square chopping block, then a sheet of glass and then the cape gooseberries. I closed all the blinds to darken the room and used a couple of Lume cubes to light the scene. I did very little in-post, just some cleaning up of blemishes/spots of dust etc. on the glass or velvet. I was using my Fuji XT2 with XF60mm F2.4 macro lens on a tripod.
What else should we know about you and your photography?
I regularly have large gaps in my photographic activity as I get bogged down with other things - my husband tells me I do too much!
Find Shona on her website - www.shonajaray.com or www.shonajaray.nz