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When My Photography Grows Up, I Want It to Be Like Susan Hay’s

I have not known this Memphis gal forever, although I feel that I have, given our church and photography club connections. I have noticed a dramatic evolution of her work. Particularly recently, it seems to me that she has moved from what I would consider well-done documentary photographs into what to my eye is clearly a high level of fine art. You know, photographs with an ethereal, an almost from-another-world look, something that originated in the hands of a classic painter and belongs on an exhibit wall. A main reason for my selecting her for a BPG member profile was honestly that I wanted to find out how she does this.

She blames a lot of it on workshops (normally 3 each year, depending on her personal budget) and getting out regularly 2 or 3 times a week, often with someone else, where things can be talked through. Bottom line, she told me, “I discovered creativity I did not know I had.” Somehow, I personally doubt this. It sounds to me that something I have heard others say has turned out to be true in Susan’s case: you don’t have to be born with creativity; it can be learned. (Listen up, BPG members!)

She has been at photography awhile, getting her start as a teen. Her grandfather made his living carving tombstones and bought a camera so that he could record accurately what his customers wanted. The camera was a Polaroid that he could never figure out how to operate so he turned to his teenage granddaughter and a lifelong interest was born in this now-Canon shooter.

She is a dedicated user of both Lightroom and Photoshop, along with plug-ins, all of which she has taken the time to learn to use by classes, workshops and conversations with other users. Her present workflow starts with basic enhancements in Lightroom. She then moves the image into Photoshop to take advantage of layers, within which she works with Topaz, Luminar and the Nik suite as each is suggested to her. She depends on Photoshop and makes use of layer blending, its other tools as well.

She says that one of the areas now undergoing work is “getting in closer,” whether zooming in on a landscape for detail, or getting nearer flowers. When I asked about the piece of advice she would give to a new photographer, it was right up my alley: “Learn all the features of your camera, read the manual, watch YouTube videos about settings” and get out there and shoot. And this gal herself is a constant learner; check out her Facebook page to see how much of one she really is.

I admire this woman and I admire her photography. You will too if you take the time to get to know her.