(AW) Have you always been a photographer?
(AW) Could you talk a bit about your process?
(SF) I've always been very observant, curious about the world and fascinated with light - traits I think all photographers (and most creative folk) share but I didn't start getting into photography in earnest until a couple of years ago. I have been all over the map when it comes to choosing a profession and always felt that it was unfair to be asked to pick one thing to do. As a teen, I wanted to be everything from a game ranger to an illustrator, and even actress! I then developed a fascination for film and was determined to produce features for children like The Neverending Story or land a job with Jim Henson. I went to film school and it was there that I discovered how much I loved the still image. I took a few photography courses and really enjoyed the darkroom process. I would be giddy waiting for my image to develop. Film has a special quality that I still love today. Then came a big dose of reality and practical thinking and although I continued to shoot casually, it would be years before I really returned to photography and started using some of my graphic design training (yes, I did that, too - told you I was all over the map) for processing my images. I still struggle with the title "photographer" and I'm not sure I deserve it yet. I learn something new every day and above all else, it is a part of my life that brings me joy.
(AW) Could you talk a bit about your process?
(SF) I typically have my camera handy wherever I go and am always scanning my environment for a great subject or vantage point. Lately I can be found carrying several cameras in a homemade camera bag of sorts. I like to have my digital SLR, Polaroid SX-70 and my Yashica Mat 124G with me. It's a shoulder killer! I don't usually plan what I'll be shooting and rarely shoot indoors. I never use a flash and typically shoot in the early morning, late afternoon, on cloudy days or in the shade. I rarely leave an image the way it is straight out of the camera. I always make minor tweaks and often more extensive post-processing to my photographs on my trusty Mac. I have been known to play with an image for hours. My husband occasionally hears me squealing in my office when I achieve an effect I love.
(AW) Where do you like to create?
(SF) I'm very fortunate to live in the San Francisco Bay Area. I can easily access a plethora of interesting subjects from my home base in a sleepy coastal town. I'm also incredibly "shutter happy" when I travel. There's so much to discover. I still maintain that it is nearly impossible to take a bad photograph in Paris. I like to think that 60% of the creativity involved in my photography happens in the editing process. My true creative space is my little office. It's bright and airy with a peekaboo ocean view. I have my computer desk on one side of the room and a craft table with art supplies on the other. There's an inspiration board filled with eye candy on one wall and loads of books around me. My little fox (rescue mutt and great friend), Mina, is usually napping in her bed in the corner. I drink lots of tea all day. The room is really a pleasure. I'm so grateful for this little oasis.
(AW) It sounds like the perfect room for art-making - especially with Mina there, who sounds open to collaboration. What fascinates you about nature?
(SF) I once had a boss who used to say to know-it-all or completely disoriented people, "Now - I'm gonna bring you back" (waving his finger in front of him) and proceed to explain the reality of the situation to them. ;) Nature does this for me. It "brings me back" - it's the great equalizer and it reminds methat I am a tiny part of a much larger thing and I need to respect it. I think I show a reverence for the earth in my work. Nature also has a soothing effect on me. People are complicated, interesting creatures (I love documentary photography) but I frequently choose to omit human subjects in my work. This choice creates a sense of quiet serenity that I strive for.
(AW) Who inspires you to make your work?
(SF) I'm easily fascinated and I think a natural curiosity about lie and appreciation for simple pleasures makes a very inspired (and grateful!) person. It took me too long to figure this out. My work is certainly inspired by other photographers. Flickr is such an amazing place; I've found so many wonderful talents there; they influence my work and motivate me to improve. There are several classic photographers I love: Tina Modotti, Dorothea Lange, and Imogen Cunningham, to name a few. Etsy faves like Alicia Bock and Irene Suchocki are so inspirational in their runaway success as self-taught artists. More than anything, though, nature with its abundance of color, pattern, texture and light is my exquisite muse.
(AW) That is quite the list of remarkable ladies. Dorothea Lange was one of my first heroines, and all the others are certainly worth a deep look of their own. Thanks for stopping in today, Silvana.
Silvana's photos, "Bright Stars" and "Rosettes in Green," are hanging in the Porch on Art Wall. For a peep at her portfolio, stop by her website. Should you happen to fall in love (as we have), her Etsy shop is full of prints. And for "onlookers seeking calming distraction" - all of us, yes? - her blog is a lovely place to visit.