AmericaDnaFive minutes with Vanessa Paxton

Either I tell too little and say nothing of interest, or tell too much and still say nothing at all. I’m a struggling artist. I’m riddled with self-doubt and self-deprecation.

Can you tell us a little about yourself?

Either I tell too little and say nothing of interest, or tell too much and still say nothing at all. I’m a struggling artist. I’m riddled with self-doubt and self-deprecation. I’m currently in a deep funk that needs to move along so I can breathe again.

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How did you get interested in photography?

I think it was actually National Geographic that got me interested. I used to subscribe to them while living in Jamaica. I got a copy in the mail every month for six years. I used to pour over the pictures and try to draw them. When I moved to Canada I had the chance to experiment with digital photography in school and I guess I just ran with it. It’s been 9-10 years now.

Have any artist/photographer inspired your art?

Too many over the years. I can hardly remember names. Early on it was Richard Avedon and Henri Cartier-Bresson, the classics. Then I discovered Flickr and that changed the game a bit. To name a few, some of the people who inspired me back then were: Denis Olivier, Lissy Elle, and Rosie Hardy (who I’m sure inspired a whole slew of other photographers who I’ve subsquently fallen in and out of love with over the years). Now I’m inlove with the works of Katerina Plotnikova and Oleg Oprisco. I find myself more drawn to images that are real. As opposed to composited creations. Sometimes you just need to change it up! Too much of one thing leaves a bland taste in your mouth.

Could you please tell us anything about your technique and creating process?

I used to tend toward the square format look by taking multiple pictures and stitching them together in post. I did this to achieve more depth and detail. It’s funny actually, now that I can afford better lenses I find myself doing that process less and now that I think about it I’ve produced much less work. It’s as if the challenge of not having the right gear made me better somehow. Ha! What an epiphany!

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Describe your ideal photographic situation

The ability to swish my hands around and command the sun to shine and the clouds to shield and the rain to start and the wind to blow. I really have no idea what my ideal photographic situation would be. My taste has changed so much. I’d like to travel more and happen upon fascinating faces worth photographing and spectacular scenes worth capturing and epic catastrophic events.

How much preparation do you put into taking a photograph?

In most cases only a few days.

What’s your useable-to-unusable ratio when you review images from a shoot?

Now-a-days I take less than 50 and end up using the first shot. 90% of what I shoot is usable, but only one image is ever perfect.

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What quick advice do you have for someone who wants to improve his or her photography skills?

Practise. Don’t be afraid to fail. Learn as much as you can. Practise some more. Take a photography class to understand how to use your camera. Most people these days think they can fix everything in Photoshop and so they get sloppy when it comes to doing things properly in camera. So my advice is try to do as much as you can in camera. Learning is inspiring.

From time to time many photographers find themselves in a creative rut or uninspired to shoot. Does this ever happen to you and if so how do you overcome these phases?

I’m currently in that rut and I have no idea how to get out of it.

What future plans do you have? What projects would you like to accomplish?

I have a sketchbook full of drawings waiting to become a reality but I cannot find the time to execute them. My future plans include getting through this wedding season unscathed and hopefully finding some time for myself. I have another color project underway that I’d really like to get at. I’d also like to submit to more galleries and become more involved in that community. [Official Website]

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