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General Blogs

#InternationalWomensDay - How did you get into photography?

Posted: 05 Mar 2021

#InternationalWomensDay is an important day to recognise the achievements of women. Throughout history, the day has been an important milestone in the calendar, and has been used to promote the rights and achievements of women throughout the world. 

We thought it would be interesting to reach out to some of our friends and discover how they got into photography, why they love it and why they print.


Elke Vogelsang - Pet Portraiture photographer


How did you get into photography?

My photography obsession started during a very stressful time some years ago. My husband and I took care of my mother-in-law when she was diagnosed with dementia. She was a lovely lady, but dementia is not that lovely. Two years into this journey I decided to look for a creative outlet. I planned to start a one-picture-a-day project, beginning on the 1st of January 2010. But shortly before this, at Christmas 2009, I found my husband unconscious in the bathtub. The diagnosis was a severe brain haemorrhage due to a ruptured aneurysm.  

I decided to start the project, despite my husband being in hospital, or rather because of it, as I wanted to try to keep up a bit of normality and have something like a visual diary for my husband of that time while he was in an induced coma, and later on had no short-term memory at all for months. Often, my dogs found themselves in front of my camera which, alongside my photography, were a welcome distraction.

Thankfully, my husband recovered fully, but the care for sick and old relatives went on. Photography had turned into a passion of mine and I didn’t want to stop taking pictures. More and more people asked me if I could photograph their dog too. Finally, I decided to try to do more of what I love (spend my time with photography and animals) and registered a business as a photographer. That was in May 2011. I was a freelance technical translator, which is a good job, but not all that fulfilling for me. Nowadays I work exclusively as a commercial and editorial photographer with specialisation in pet portraiture. I live my dream and couldn't be happier about it, even though it's a very challenging business. You could say that's my silver lining story.


What is it that you love about photography?

During this stressful time the only spare time I had, I spent with my dogs. I had to take them for walks. They found themselves in front of my camera very often. After a while, when my pictures got better, more and more people asked me if I could photograph their dog, too. At that time I worked as a self-employed technical translator. This is a fine job, but it’s not very creative and I felt stuck in a rut and wanted to do more creative things. Photography was my creative outlet and stress relief. 

That’s when I decided to register a business as a photographer to be able to spend more time with what I love. To have pets as my specialization was only natural and I enjoy it very much. What I love most about photography are the endless ways to be creative. I still do projects entirely for myself. I try out different approaches and techniques. For example, I love to print out pictures and add props on top of the print to get a new result without using Photoshop or having to dress up a dog. It’s just a little project on the side, which gives me pleasure.


Why did you decide to print?

When I still did private photography sessions for dog owners, my clients got a print with every purchased image. The impact of a tangible print of a picture is more real and complete than having dozens of digital files on your computer, which you just swipe through once in a while.

Nowadays I do time-for-print sessions to shoot images for my licensing archive. The owners of my models are over the moon when they hold the prints in their hands. They proudly display them at home. They also get a web file to be able to show the images to friends on the go, but I often get feedback that people cherish prints more than anything else. And rightly so.


What paper is your favourite to print on?

My favourite paper for most occasions is the Photo Smooth Pearl 290. The beautiful finish fits every motif and is wonderful for colourful, sharp studio portraits. If I want to have a more vintage, nostalgic feeling, I choose Platinum Matt.

In general love to experiment with the different papers. The positive impact a paper can have on your image is astounding. My model owners often never came across a paper like Metallic Lustre, for example, and are stunned when they see their dog shine like a star in many ways.


Rachael Talibart - Seascape photographer


How did you get into photography?

I have enjoyed photography since my teens, when I was given a little cartridge film camera for my birthday. I used to enjoy recording what I saw in a very simple way and I still remember the excitement, many days or weeks later, of opening the envelope when the prints came back from the developers. As a young adult, I travelled a lot, including a round-the-world backpacking adventure. The wonderful things I saw fuelled my interest in photography and, when I returned, I spent my first paycheck as a qualified solicitor on my first SLR camera.


What is it that you love about photography?

Photography allows me the fulfilment of creating art. It is the artistic medium most suited to my preference for being outdoors. I love everything about it!


Why did you decide to print?

Printing is so rewarding. For me, a photograph hasn’t been finished until I’ve printed it. I enjoy choosing the right paper for the image and I even enjoy watching the print emerge from the printer. Prints are tactile, tangible artefacts and they can reveal nuances that aren’t noticed when an image is viewed on a screen.


What paper is your favourite to print on?

I like Fotospeed NST Bright White, especially for my black and white photographs. On this paper, the whites are properly white. I prefer matt paper for black and white photographs and I like the soft, natural texture of this paper.


Lizzie Shepherd - Landscape, Nature and Travel photographer


How did you get into photography?

I have owned some kind of camera since the age of 9 but it was at university I became more serious about photography, doing a lot of black and white work, including developing and printing in the university dark room. I worked for a few professional studio photographers but decided against pursuing photography as a career back then. My love of the outdoors and travel reignited my desire to do something more with my photography later in life and I’ve been a full time professional photographer for a good few years now.


What is it that you love about photography?

The fact that it allows and encourages you to really open your eyes and to appreciate and understand the world around you. As a landscape photographer I also love the fact that it takes me to some wonderful places, be they close to home or somewhere more exotic. Also, as with any shared love or interest, you get to know some wonderful people through photography.


Why did you decide to print?

Having developed and printed my own black and white work in the early days, it seemed entirely natural to replicate this at home, once technology, time and budget made this possible; I’ve been printing my work at home on inkjet printers for about 20 years now. Originally I scanned and printed my transparencies but have been shooting digitally for about 15 years. To me the processing and printing are an essential part of my workflow and I like to have absolute control of the end product where possible. I also think that watching a print emerge from a printer is just as exciting as it was to see the print emerge in a tray of chemicals in my darkroom days. And just as nerve wracking!


What paper is your favourite to print on?

Platinum Cotton 305 – it’s my go to paper. My work is typically quite gentle and I love the way it handles the range of tones and subtler contrasts in a photograph. Equally it has remarkably good blacks for a matt paper and of course it is a particularly good option from an archival point of view too. Essentially I always print on matt paper and enjoy using several of the Fotospeed fine art papers.


Vanda Ralevska - Landscape photographer


How did you get into photography?

I have always been an outside person and have had a deep passion for the beauty of the natural world. When I got my first camera in my teens, I realised that I can express how I feel through photography much more eloquently. Since then I started my quest for capturing the beauty that I find even in most ordinary places and subjects. On my journey I have tried different avenues, such as portrait and wedding photography, but all my detours led me back to my love of landscape photography. That's where I belong and that's where I am at my happiest. I strive to capture the atmosphere, feeling, and sheer wonderment that our natural world can evoke within us, always searching for those fleeting moments of magic that transform it into something extraordinary. 


What is it that you love about photography?

With time I realised that photography for me is not just about pressing the shutter. Not even capturing what I see. It is more about expressing my feelings and experiencing the moments that I find myself in. It is about being truly present in those moments and appreciating them for what they are, even if they are seemingly ordinary. Discovering beauty in unexpected places brings me an incredible joy. Photography became an inseparable part of my life, like walking and enjoying being in the outside world. It makes me feel grateful for every day of my life. Someone expressed it even more adequately: "Photography is a love affair with life."


Why did you decide to print?

Before the digital revolution we were not able to see the final photograph until it was developed. Waiting and anticipation were a part of the ritual of photograph taking. It was magical to see the picture slowly appear in front of your eyes. We lost that magic a long time ago. Nowadays we take more photographs than ever before, but do we ever truly look at them? They are almost invisible, like ghosts. They are just a number of pixels, a combination of 0s and 1s sitting on our hard drives, waiting for us to come back and look for them. However, how often do we look through our archives just to find one or two of our favourites? Printing digital images is as close to the magic of developing a film as it can be. As soon as the print comes out of the printer and you can hold it in your hands it becomes real, tangible. Something that you can touch and experience. Something that you want to keep going back to. As Ansel Adams said: “The negative is comparable to the composer’s score and the print to its performance.” The composer's score would never come alive without those who perform it.


What paper is your favourite to print on?

I have tried several different types of paper and eventually found the one that I feel really does justice to any types of photographs that I like to take. It is Fotospeed NST Bright White 315 Signature Paper. The quality of the prints is superb. The matte surface eliminates any reflections that could potentially distract from viewing the print. Its subtle texture creates a beautiful, almost painting-like effect. It lends itself to soft pastel colours which I love. However, it is perfect for black and white photographs as well. It preserves all the details in shadows and highlights and the details are crisp and clear. As its name suggests, it is pure white and so there is no colour cast that would even slightly change the way the final print looks.

Check out more of our blogs here. Looking for advice and tips around printing? Check out our Facebook group with over 2,500 members!

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