Written by Logan Cooper
With so much natural beauty around Santa Cruz, it’s no wonder that our funky little town is home base for so many photographers, professional and hobbyist alike: All we at Event Santa Cruz had to do was put them in one place, and supply a stage and good things were bound to come from it.
And they did. With a little help from Humble Sea Brewery’s craft beer and Sun’s Out Buns Out’s gourmet hot dogs, we were able to give ten very talented local photographers a place to talk about their passion in Verve Coffee’s wonderful-smelling Seabright roastery.
The evening started with some time for guest and speaker alike to mingle and make connections, and just generally bask in the unique community spirit that we are so lucky to have here in Santa Cruz.
However, as the sky darkened and the night cooled, things really began to get started as the crowd moved inside to be serenaded by Jake Karecki’s heart-filled ukulele jams.
Matthew Lavin of AreoGraphy UAVs bravely took the first speaking slot, and told us how his interest in kites combined with a love for photography, and eventually led him to aerial photography, which came to include the use of drones as they became available. He spoke a lot about perspective, and how different the world looks when one can observe it from above. That in mind, he has been seeking collaboration with ground-based photographers to combine perspectives from both air and ground.
Wedding photographer Carlie Statsky by contrast, started off as an aspiring travel photographer, after she captured the steamy aftermath of a hail storm on hot ground on film while living in Australia. As she travelled the world, she found herself collecting and displaying pictures that brought her back to her favorite moments of the past. Then, as she began to settle down and start a family, her photographic focus changed to trying to capture family life. That was when she was first asked to shoot a wedding; after experiencing the sheer joy of that day, Carlie decided that wedding photography was what she wanted to do.
Jake J. Thomas opened with some advice to aspiring photographers: “Love what you shoot, and shoot what you love.” He came to live by those words after shooting some photos and video of his friend Barney surfing, then climbing a rock spire to meditate. Even though Barney has sadly since passed away, Thomas is reminded of the best parts of their friendship whenever he looks back on those photos, and wants every aspiring photographer out there to be able to look back fondly on the memories that their photographs represent.
After a childhood spent around photography and photographers, it is little surprise that Neil Simmons ended up as one himself. Though he has never been able to limit himself to any one genre of photography (he considers himself a bit of a generalist) he is fascinated by alignment in pictures. This manifests itself in alignment of the sun’s rays to get the best light possible, as well as in an interest in astronomical photography. He recently opened a gallery in Santa Cruz, and advises new photographers to pay attention to the sky.
The night’s halfway point brought us an announcement from Allison Garcia about a new photography and videography venue in Santa Cruz: Open Show. It will feature both curated screenings and collections of photographs from both hobbyists and professionals in the area.
That announcement was followed up by a talk from photographer Carolyn Klein. While she is formally employed as a campus photographer at UC Santa Cruz, her true passion is stock photography. She got her start right after her daughter was born. As she stayed home with her, she would take pictures and post them on Flickr. As positive feedback began to flood in, she began to consider photography as a career. Her first break into the world of stock photography came when she received an offer to work with Getty Images. She has since broken with them, and has found herself working with Stocksy United.
John F. Hunter first became interested in nature photography while working construction in Colorado, where the natural vistas left him with no shortage of shooting material. He was really sucked in when he found his way over to Santa Cruz, where he could draw inspiration from the ocean and its marvelous creatures, and where he had access to a darkroom at Cabrillo College. After a particular dramatic encounter with a whale, he realized that photography was giving him a spiritual fulfillment which he had been looking for. He ended by urging new photographers to both draw inspiration from, and give deference to nature.
After realizing that his GoPro had its limitations, Jeff Schwab bought his first heavy-duty camera in 2015, and has been learning his way around it ever since. He gives credit to the YouTube tutorials he watched for teaching him some of the finer points of photography, and to the beauty of Northern California
Bredette Dyer began her journey into photography with analog film, and though she has since expanded into digital photography, she still finds herself drawn to the old-school feel of film. She first made a business of film while doing work with the Homeless Garden Project. The combination of natural and human beauty resulting from the Project’s work gave her plenty to shoot. Dyer attributes her skill with a camera to the fact that she is always composing photos in her mind, even when she doesn’t have a camera in her hands.
The evening was rounded off by Joop Rubens. While growing up in his native Belgium, Rubens was always fascinated by photography, but was pressured into doing something more “useful” – in his case, lawyering. However, he rekindled his passion for photography while working at a clinic in a South African township, where he was struck by the sense of community and human resilience that he encountered there. He tried to capture that with his photographs, and use them to being others into contact with that world.
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